Sticking to it

There seems to be a conspiracy afoot to keep me from my goals of losing weight, painting my sketched concepts, and writing a book.

Just in the last four months, my brain blew up. My shoulder froze. Big projects at the cabin need supervision. I signed up with an unhelpful self-publishing program. And now the basement is a disaster area.

Any one of those is plenty of an excuse to leave my goals for another, easier time.

My friends joked that the reason I recovered so well from the brain aneurysm rupture is that I’m stubborn. It’s absolutely true. Sometimes I think my ancestors were not German, but mules.

Unfortunately, stubbornness isn’t the same quality as stick-to-it-iveness.

You might say this should be called perseverance, but what I’m thinking of has a shade of meaning that is more accurately called just “sticking to it”.

Perseverance has the tone of “against all odds,” and “overcoming obstacles.” I do have perseverance when I face clear obstacles. Perseverance was one of the ingredients that help me to lead creation of news agencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I need is stick-to-it-iveness. It’s something different – to just STICK TO IT when the task is dull, repetitive, and ordinary – and when the only obstacle is your own willpower.

Staying healthy means eating healthy food in reasonable portions, exercising, getting enough sleep, meditating. These are daily routines. They reap obvious benefits. There is no real reason I cannot do them every day.

I’m not in prison, I am in charge of my own grocery shopping and cooking, my work schedule is almost entirely up to me, I have membership in a great Fitness Center that’s just eight minutes away, and I can walk out my backyard to connect with miles of great hiking trails.

Yet I have found multiple excuses, even on easy days, to miss one or more of these. What is that, but lack of stick-to-it-iveness?

Same with painting, same with writing. My time is my own. I absolutely can control whether I sit down and work on my book and paint my concepts every day. But so often, I haven’t.

This weekend I read a book called “Never Binge Again.” It’s written by Glenn Livingston, a psychologist, who takes a funny yet practical approach to stop overeating. He offers a technique that helps you to isolate that overeating part of yourself – and crush it.

His method is entertaining and makes sense. I have been using it for two days, and it seems to help. Even last night, in the face of the latest catastrophe, I didn’t drink or binge.

The core point is stick-to-it-iveness. All you have to do in order to never binge again, he points out, is to Never Binge Again.

Sounds simplistic? Maybe. But in the end, it really is that simple. Everything else is excuses.

It’s like when you really and truly quit smoking. When you are done, you’re done. You don’t keep picking up a cigarette butt and having a few puffs. You stop. That’s it. All you have to do to quit smoking is to never smoke again.

The things that seem to conspire against me do not matter. There’s no conspiracy. I’m not helpless.

All I have to do is eat healthy and exercise and meditate and sleep. And paint my concepts. And write a book.

I can do all those. I just need to stick to it.

Today’s penny is a 2015, the year when Never Binge Again was published.

3 thoughts on “Sticking to it”

  1. People who are experts in addiction say about quitting smoking, in particular, that whether the quitter frames it this way or not — she has tried more than once and failed, before the real deal, the real quitting, took place. Maybe the start-stop is your way of trying on what you want to do and what you want to quit….what would happen if you made the rule: For the next week, I won’t stick to anything unless it happens naturally. Like walking meditation….and on your worst day, you are an artist with something to say, so there.

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