Do not go it alone. No matter how smooth the path may look, a simple stumble can be detrimental when we are by ourselves on the journey. Both in 2008 and 2010 I was arrested for driving while intoxicated while I was in college (technically just out in 2010). At the time I was a part of an incredibly strong community focused on getting the most out of our college experience. My choices were my own but once I made the choice, the community helped me stay the course.
My goals were misguided and the results were negative (at the time) but the lesson is simple: surround yourself with those who will help you reach your goals.
As a result of my 2nd DWI and after a few dark months, I found another community that would help me achieve a much more productive goal. AA is stereotyped as a group of mostly men meeting in dimly lit, smoke filled rooms sullenly recalling tales of the hard times. Although this is not always inaccurate, what takes place in those rooms speaks to the incredible power of community. I found this group when I hit rock bottom. The hope and the encouragement I found was unexpected and is absolutely responsible for the last 3 years of sobriety. There are many lessons that apply to the normal world, but 2 come to mind more often than the others:
“Progress not perfection.” No matter what we take on, whether it is sobriety, fitness, nutrition or any other resolution to change, it is unlikely that we will hit it out of the park on our first swing. Failure to some degree is inevitable and if we are alone it is easy to tumble down the rabbit hole of despair. We will fall face first into a cake 3 days into a nutrition challenge or find ourselves 2 weeks past our last workout. This is where the community will remind us of what we have already accomplished and they will encourage us to get up and keep pushing forward. It is not important to be perfect on our journey. But we must always seek progress.
“One day at a time.” To improve your fitness I would like you to commit to an average of 4 days of workouts each week for 3 months. To improve your nutrition I would like you to give me 4 weeks of pretty clean eating with one day a week for you to indulge on whatever you are craving. If you have never taken part in an exercise program then 3 months is an absolute eternity. And if you have never taken on the challenge of changing your food choices, 6 days of clean eating each week for an entire month is an overwhelming and debilitating task. However, if you take each adventure one day at a time, never worrying about anything more than you have to deal with in this very moment, you will find yourselves well into your journey without a second thought. And in those moments of worry or doubt we will be able to lean on the support of our community to help us conquer that single solitary day that stands in the way!
When we show support for each other, we strengthen the ties that bind us together. And when we fail to seek out a community of support, we absolutely miss an opportunity to increase our chance of success. Be grateful for any and all progress and realize that yesterday is gone and tomorrow will take care of itself. You are only responsible for today. Conquer it!