Is the work worth it if you don't get results you want?
Thursday, June 03, 2010
I was trying to write a quick supportive note to a spark buddy who has been doing her exercise and several healthy habits, has gotten quite good at them, but still isn't seeing much in the way of weight loss. A lot of people would get discouraged in working hard, doing things right but still not seeing the results they want. That's understandable, I mean, we do this for a reason, and if that reason isn't happening then what's the point, right?
Or is that right? Then it occurred to me that weight loss as a goal can trick us into thinking the results are what matter, and those results equate to only one important thing-- pounds off, the numbers on a scale falling.
But many of life's struggles don't have concrete and visible results. Even when they do, what happens to motivation when you achieve it and then lose that feedback? I am facing that now, when I get on the scale each day and it's the same-- I have to remind myself, I'm not trying to LOSE weight. But I got hooked on very visceral cues and rewards for all my work-- my old clothes started falling off, people complimented me, more men started calling, jobs started being more interested..z but what happens goals that aren't so concrete? Where the rewards are more abstract? How do you even know then if you're ON the right path?
There's a deeper courage, a more admirable strength in the person who keeps on working, struggles onward, and keeps acting toward their goals in spite of the feeling they aren't making much progress, or not making the progress they desire. The person who doesn't quit even when they aren't getting a visual or emotional reward is a person who perseveres. They persist. Maybe they don't get where they thought they wanted to go, or maybe they do...but is that really the whole point?
I like this quote by Henry Ward Beecher; "The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't. "
Is it really wasted and worthless if you have gone from a couch potato to someone who exercises 5x a week even if you haven't lost 20 lbs?
Sometimes the journey is like that; it's as though we're struggling and pushing, but we don't seem to get anywhere for a long time. While I wonder if most of life's bigger dreams aren't really like that, requiring a great deal of input for a very long, long time without really giving back much in the way of tangible rewards, is the pursuit of them wasted effort?
If they pay off in some other way we didn't originally intend, or heaven forbid, they don't pay off at all was it all wasted? And why isn't the work itself of value?
Can hard work and sweat-equity really be considered wasted work when it's all moving toward making your life fuller, richer and more within your own power, aligned with your own dreams?
What about those times where you don't see gradual, incremental changes, thus giving the appearance of no change, but suddenly one day you wake up and the whole world is different? It has changed, and you never even noticed the change occurring because you were too busy doing the steps and the work you could do, and not worrying so much about what wasn't happening. Is that a lesson to consider?
For instance with me it's like practicing the guitar. For the first year and a half, I just couldn't get my fingers to do barred chords-- no matter what finger exercises, no matter what scales or flexibility things I tried-- they just wouldn't make that shift and do it crisply so that the chord sounded good. It all came out mud. After awhile, I got frustrated, then I got mad, then I pushed harder and refused to do much else-- and I grew to hate practicing my guitar. Then despair set in. So I quit playing that stupid guitar. That lasted a good month or two, you'll have to ask my mentor, he was the one who had to gently nudge me back to it. :)
Even then, I only came back cause I had to, for a band that needed me to do rhythm, but I figured barred chords and I weren't meant to be. I told the other musicians that and I only worked on music I could work my way around having to play them. For all intents and purposes, I guess I considered myself a quitter. I wasn't happy.
Then in the playing something magical happened-- I began to focus on playing music I loved, simple songs, yes, but simple songs I loved-- anything without barred chords. I just put those fancy jazz songs out of my head and enjoyed the heck out of learning to memorize and do different playing styles on folk tunes, ballads, anything else.
Then I started learning the fretboard like I knew a piano, and trying to play melodies, not just rhythm chords. I performed, I learned how to keep playing when my hands were shaking with fear in front of an audience. I learned more intricate songs, with more chord changes and more interesting progressions, I did everything but those barred chords. I stopped thinking about my failure and started enjoying where I succeeded. I was in my joy and I kept going and I just didn't think about what I gave up very often, and then only to accept that I'd probably never be a jazz guitarist or a true soloist. But I would do what I did as good as anybody!
Then on day, a few months back, I was jamming with some guys an learning new music for some shows and someone asked me to show him the B chord, which of course, is barred and I can't play. But I thought, "why not? what you got to lose" and I tried to show it to him. Lo and behold, my fingers moved on their own, I strummed and surprise, a clear B Major chord. No MUD AT ALL! And it wasn't a fluke, I could repeat it! @ho knew that all that time playing would make my fingers limber enough, would develop in them an intimacy with the feel of my guitar, that suddenly, out of the blue, barred chords would not be impossible anymore? I didn't.
Now, of course I'm gonna need some practice time perfecting the technique because doing a barred chord alone in a stress free environment is a different creature than executing one, in tempo, on stage when you're performing and singing. I know that. It doesn't all happen by magic.
But the thing is, I never quit the guitar, even when I erroneously believed that what I truly wanted was out of my reach forever. I did quit driving myself into a wall trying to achieve it. I stopped punishing myself and started enjoying it. But some part of me never really gave up on the barred chords. I just wasn't there yet. I didn't know I wasn't there, but I had to keep on that journey until I got there.
Thanks as always for reading me, we're in this healthy journey together and I'm glad we are!
I'd like to hear your thoughts-- when is the work worth it just for the doing?
What results do you really require in order to keep going?
When is it time to stop, see what you're doing isn't working for you and change things or when is it honorable and healthier to let go?
You know where the comments section is. :)
Copyright ©2010 Cassandra Kelly. All Rights Reserved