I was eating dinner with my wife and mother-in-law recently when we began talking about how some people really excel in the early stages of dating. They pull out all the stops when they begin courting but after they close the deal and get married they cannot sustain the level of intensity they have set during the dating process. This usually comes as a great shock to the partner who has been overwhelmed by the attention and love given before the marriage. My mother-in-law Joyce is from the country and is almost always able to remember an old saying she learned from her mother that applies to whatever we are talking about. With no hesitation she gave me this pearl of wisdom. She said, “Ray, my momma always told us, you need to start out like you can hold out.”
That little saying has me thinking. Is there an application for those of us on the ‘Big Life’ journey? I think there is. I am learning steady beats big and dramatic almost every day. As a young man, I often fixated on the idea of dramatic wins, huge grand openings, and phenomenal successes. Those things were fun to think about. But they seldom worked out. And if they did, they didn’t maintain that level of success for long. My obsession with the flashy and grand seemed to be more fanciful than rooted in reality. Please don’t misunderstand. I believe in big dreams. I believe you are capable of amazing things. I just find it healthier for me to pursue meaningful dreams in a sustainable way. I want to start out like I can hold out.
When I began the Big Life webpage, I wanted to write a blog. My overachieving nature wanted to commit to writing one every day. That would be so impressive. I would be like the great blogger Seth Godin – seven days a week and 365 days a year. And I could have done that for a few weeks, maybe a month or so. But it would not have been sustainable. So the wiser Ray stepped in and said wait a minute, I feel certain I can write a blog three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That was a good commitment. It’s work. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have kept that schedule since our inception and have found it to be a rhythm that works well for me.
I have seen the same mistake when someone decides they want to get in better shape. They create an elaborate plan of workouts and diet. It is so impressive. They plan to run in the morning. They will lift weights in the afternoon. They will walk at night. They will eat 800 calories a day. And they will get down to their dream weight in six weeks. Guess what? That plan NEVER WORKS. You will do it today and tomorrow and by the third day you will be so exhausted you will not be able to get out of the bed. Then you will get depressed and when you do get out of the bed you will head straight to Dairy Queen. If you want to change your life, it is always better to think through a sustainable, realistic plan that will be achievable this week and can become truly realistic health and wellness habits for the rest of your life.
As you begin your next project, I hope you will remember the adage, “You need to start out like you can hold out.” There is great wisdom there.
And if you are dating…..take a deep breath. You don’t have to peg the speedometer every time you go out. Every date doesn’t have to be a grand-slam home-run. Relax. Find the rhythm, that works over the long haul. You’ll be glad you did….and your future partner will be too.