So I started working out recently. Like really working out. In the month of March, I went to the gym 5-6 days a week. What?! That’s insane. I’ve never done anything that intense in my life. On top of that, I cut out the carbs and started drinking a TON of water (like a gallon a day). It was a whole thing, and it was really intense. At the end of the month, I felt great, looked better, and had lost 15 pounds. Yesssssssss
Then April came around, and I got lazy. Well, it wasn’t even that I got lazy, it’s just that I got busy. The good habits I had made in March fell by the wayside. I slacked off at the gym, only going 2 maaaaybe 3 times a week on average and eating whatever was convenient. In the back of my mind, I knew I should’ve been eating better and working out more, but I figured, it was just a few weeks off the regimen, how bad could it be?
After avoiding the scale for the entire month of April, I weighed myself. Whereas in the month of March I had lost 15 pounds, in the month of April I gained 5 pounds back. Son of a.
I cannot tell you how frustrating this is. Though, if you’ve ever tried to lose weight, gain muscle, or do any other kind of fitness program, you know the feeling. It’s not like I was eating McDonalds and sitting on the couch for the whole month! I was still somewhat active, and I ate relatively sorta okay.
My body’s natural tendency is to crave things that probably aren’t great for me, and to generally avoid movement. I spent the entire month of March intensely fighting those tendencies, and the month of April not paying attention at all. But by not paying attention at all, I didn’t fall into some magical “neutral” weight zone, I fell back into my tendencies and gained 5 pounds back.
By doing nothing, I was actually doing something, and it turns out, that was the exact something that I didn’t want to be doing.
So how does this relate to you? Whether you realize it or not, you’re always doing something. Even if you think you’re doing nothing.
If you’re practicing your instrument, you’re doing something. If you’re watching Netflix, you’re also doing something. You’re always headed in one direction. If you’re not intentional about where that direction is, you might end up in a place you don’t actually want to be.
I kind of hate people that are the huge goal setting type. They’re so annoying, right?
At the same time, if you don’t have goals, and you’re constantly just going with the flow, the flow is probably taking you to a place that you don’t want to be. (Zayn is lucky he got out when he did. OD has really jumped the shark recently, right guys?)
Setting goals is a great thing, and vital to your growth as a musician, as a professional, and as a person, but the awesome-amazing-gigantic goal is too much for my mind to comprehend. It’s overwhelming to think about. I’m the type of person who likes to ask questions: “Where is this going? How specifically do I get to my goal? What are the 14,000 steps that I have to take to accomplish my goal?”
It doesn’t take long for me to get exhausted thinking about all of this. Exhaustion leads to frustration. Frustration leads to procrastination, and procrastination leads to the dark side. (Sorry, it was Star Wars day this week) Procrastination leads to doing nothing. And doing nothing actually leads somewhere, and that somewhere is not where you want to be.
Making gigantic goals isn’t a bad thing. If that’s what you’re into, great (we probably can’t ever be friends though). I’d rather spend my time on micro-goals, forming habits that will set me up well down the road. I want to get to the end of the month having lost 15 pounds instead of gaining 5. How do I get there? By making intentional choices: going to the gym regularly, eating well, and drinking soooooo much water.
I also want to be better at the bass, be a better music director, and better teacher. How do I get there? By making intentional choices to practice, learn new music, listen to new music, and better educate myself.
These small intentional choices may not seem like much in the moment, but at the end of the month, they really add up. If you watch an episode of The Office every day for a month, that may only be 25 minutes a day, but at the end of the month that’s over 12 hours. What if you intentionally spent that time working on your songwriting, or practicing, or making your website, or learning how to use new software? That 12 hours is a significant amount of time that you can get some serious work done in. (Disclaimer: as a huge fan and regular viewer of The Office I am speaking primarily to myself)
Don’t get overwhelmed by the giant goal you want to accomplish, the career you want to build, or the skill that you want to get better at. Start by intentionally doing something every single day that will inch you closer to your goal.