This morning my workout was a Plyo workout. This is the dreaded day of the week for me as plyo is a cardio jumping workout, and it’s hard. And today’s plyo was adding weights, so I knew it was going to be even harder. Cardio has never been my favorite part of working out. I love lifting weights, and I enjoy outdoor cardio like running, but cardio workouts online are hard. But, I also know that pressing past that dread and getting it done is the best thing I can do, and when I’m done I will be glad I did it, so I did. Never give up on a goal or habit just because it’s hard.
I felt pretty good when I started, so I pushed myself a little harder than I had the last several times I’ve done this particular workout. I jumped everything, usually I modify at least a couple, and I did it with more weight. I finished the whole workout without hitting pause or stopping a couple seconds early on any of the sets. At the end I had the thought hit me really clearly; I had improved, I had made progress! When I workout, I really don’t measure my progress too much, because I have enough of a habit that I just keep going every day. Often I feel sore, which is a good indicator that I’ve worked, and I do work at doing more, lifting heavier during the workout, completing it faster, etc. But rarely think about it beyond that. But today I was proud of myself. I don’t need the motivation of always seeing results in my exercise routine to keep going, but today was a great reminder how important seeing that progress is, at least some of the time. However, there are so many other areas of my life that I forget to measure, I forget to look back and see the progress. This mornings workout reminded me that looking back and seeing progress is an important part of keeping us going.
Our bodies are fairly easy to measure progress in given the right tools. It requires more than just a scale to gauge fitness, but some of the things that measure progress would be inches lost, or if you’re trying to build muscle inches gained. How your clothes fit, if you’re sleeping better, how much energy you have, etc. But other areas of our lives aren’t as easy to gauge. I paint, as my website is evidence of. About a year ago my daughter cleaned out our guest room so she could move into it. She brought me a whole bunch of my first year’s worth of paintings that I had completely forgotten I even had. I looked through all these pictures. Some I was impressed with my ability, even early on, but most I realized how far I have come. It was a great measurement tool to help me see I had improved and to help motivate me to keep going.
It is so easy to get up every morning and do the same things over and over, and never think too much about it. But as we set goals and try to live intentionally each day we can’t do that. Setting goals, creating habits, developing character – all these things require conscious effort and time. But they also have measurable outcomes. How often though do we forget to measure, forget to celebrate those small victories? As we move forward day to day, we will have awesome days, or weeks, but we will also have bad days and weeks. Looking back to see how far we’ve come is a great way to help us push past those bad days. Sometimes when we hit a wall in our progress, looking back will give us the motivation to break through that wall instead of stop. How do we measure? Look at your big goals, look at the small steps it takes to get there, break them down as small as they need to be to accomplish, and then celebrate every single step you take, don’t wait until you’re finished. Exercising is something I plan on doing for the rest of my life, but today I realized how important it is to celebrate those victories over self, over dread, the victory of completing well what I set out to do, no matter how hard I thought it was, or how hard it truly was. Next week’s plyo won’t be so dreaded, and some day I might even enjoy it!
I hope today you will take opportunity to look at your life, look back and see how far you’ve come, whether it’s just looking back at yesterday, or back 20 years, see the good, celebrate those victories. With those victories, set more goals, live more intentionally, and remember to measure your successes, because no matter how small they may seem, they are there and deserve to be celebrated.