Monday, April 28, 2014

Abandoning our Goals

In the overarching theme of keeping commitments, the most relateable analogy I can think of is the one lie most people have made in regards to their fitness plans made on New Year's. Every now and then I will renew my vow, that this will be the year my six pack will reveal itself to the world; I have yet to see those puppies. But the problem of words speaking louder than actions extends far beyond the scope of daily gym attendance. Quitting bad habits like smoking cigarettes or starting new ones like regular studying suffer from our habitual self deceptions as well. At the root of long term commitments of stopping or starting anything are the individual choices we make on a daily basis that ultimately determine if we are taking steps forward or backwards.


It starts with the super motivated commitment. 

Six pack abs. The idea forms when motivation is at the peak, when everything is as clear as day and our self-assured intentions are undaunted by the arduous journey ahead of strict dieting and long hours in the gym. We know what we want and nothing will stop us from of getting it. The first week breezes by, the passionate fire still burning inside fueled by the glorious hope of a chiseled body. It is the honeymoon period, when we are still drunk on and in love with the idea of our goals becoming a reality. Ever healthy bite purposeful, every sweaty workout fulfilling, and every dark thought of skipping a day easily forgotten.

Until the fire runs out of fuel and the daily grind becomes a test of true grit. 

So begins the descent from motivation mountain into the doubtful forest. In this forest lurks an evil that begins to chip away at us and the plans we made for ourselves. It turns our thoughts and feelings against us. Workouts are no longer enjoyable and laziness sets in, allowing dark thoughts of relapsing back into our comfortable ways creep back into our lives. Cheat meals turn to cheat days which turn to cheat weeks until we have cheated ourselves so full of salty and sweet goodness that we have cheated ourselves out of our goal.

Then the choices we make on a daily basis shape the choices we make for the rest of our lives. 

That is where our fall from the mountain begins, with the first cheat meal or the first cigarette we smoke. We rationalize that weak moment of relapse, saying things like "It's just this one time". But hardly ever is it ever just that one time, and so it becomes the most dangerous decision we must make because once we have already rationalized it to be OK one time, surely it will be even easier for us to rationalize it again. As simple addition dictates, if we keep adding on excuses and rationalizing when it is OK to break the rules, then that 'one time' will add up to a much bigger number of times. At a certain point we have to ask ourselves what number is too big. Popular phrases stem from this idea, 'Once a cheater, always a cheater.' While I don't agree that this unforgiving judgement is always the case, I do believe it is trying to say that once a person deems a behavior to be acceptable one time its more than likely they will perform that behavior a second time.
 "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."
          Romans 7:18-19

Not studying for a day, smoking a cigarette, forgetting to blog or skipping leg day may not seem evil but these little acts of negligence are the seeds to the big tree of laziness. It is small at first, but the more we water it everyday it will take root deep in our hearts and bear its poisonous fruit. Unfortunately, we all have already planted the seeds of sin in our hearts, but is it is now up to us as to whether we will choose to water it or not. If we do, we run the risk of choosing to the point we no longer have a choice and by then it will be too late.
"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
          Romans 7:21-25

Have hope in something bigger than yourself. 

Even the alcoholics anonymous groups have it in their creed, to rely on a higher power to kick them from their addiction. Because when there is no more fuel to keep our fire going we need an external push. Because when we are drowning in that ocean of sin or stuck in that that dark meaningless pit with no way of escaping we need a light and a hand to pull us out. Because when it has been 20 long years of not seeing my abs, it will take God himself to show them to me.

Long term commitment is a life long journey. It is not worth it to rob ourselves of the final reward by indulging in short term gains. It is inevitable that we will take our eyes off the prize. There will be times we will stray so far from the path until we forget why we were ever on it, when we are super motivated or not motivated at all. But remember this, the race was started for a reason. 

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