Ups and Downs
Updated: May 3
**This Is part 2 of a 3 part post. Please be sure to check out part 1.
The shape of the “M” is to remind us that this process will have ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Our journey starts on the lower left side of the “M” and the initial ascent is always toughest. But it begins with a “Moment.” Why? Because of another “M” word that I really like. That first step is hard, because we haven’t built “MOMENTUM” yet.
How do we start to build momentum? By hopping off that hamster wheel and taking one step up the side of the mountain. There is a peak ahead, but it is often far away. That peak is a majestic dream in a faraway land. We feel so tiny and ill-equipped standing at the bottom of the mighty “M.” This is where the real work begins.
What is your “M,” your MOMENT to begin the journey and start gaining momentum? Remember that first step is just a baby step, but it’s important, and it’s yours! It’s that moment in which you fully invest by naming it and claiming it as your own, and committing to it. You must establish that moment by carving away time from other things in order to make progress. “One Moment at a Time” is really just about progress. It’s about dedicating time, effort and resources to make progress toward that mountain in your life that you want to scale!
Incidentally, if we’re going to talk about mountains, we must also talk about valleys. In any dream worth pursuing, those valleys are there. They will come as we continue our intentional baby steps, so expect them. Prepare for them. Don’t allow them to derail you.
A fail is not a failure unless we quit trying. I’ve heard a saying at the gym. “If you want to stop starting over, stop quitting.” Don’t quit on yourself.
There is a premise called the “20-hour Rule,” which states that we cannot declare competence in any area of interest until we invest at least twenty hours of attention to it. Think about that. How many people buy the musical instrument, the sports equipment, the painting tutorial, and quit after a couple of painful and humiliating lessons? We declare in defeat that, “This just isn’t me,” or “I’m no good at this.” Well, according to the 20-hour rule, we can’t say that. We haven’t invested enough time and effort yet. We haven’t trudged up the peak of the “M'' long enough to even glimpse the top. And then, we hit an inevitable valley. Weight loss stalls, our favorite instructor quits, that gym partner stops coming to workouts, and we begin the quick descent down into the valley of the “M.” It’s not a matter of IF a setback will happen; it’s a matter of WHEN. What will we do WHEN that valley looms at our feet?
OMAAT says “just keep on keeping on.” We can’t let circumstances define us. Last November, I developed an infection from a cyst that I had for 20 years. At every annual physical, my doctor would say, “It’s fine, unless it gets inflamed.” After twenty years, the cyst began to leak infection into my system. I felt horrible. It was painful, and it sidelined me. I had my own OMAAT to ponder.
“Will I quit working out?” Not if I keep OMAAT in mind. I will just keep plugging along, because I need the exercise and the structure. I want the results that I believe will come if I don’t give up. One of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, based on the iconic book by Stephen R. Covey, is to begin with the end in mind. If we follow the terrain of OMAAT, we must begin knowing there will be ups and downs, highs and lows, moments where we lose our way, where dense fog is everywhere, and all we can see is the one step in front of us. But that is the step we must take – the one that we can see today, in this moment. How can we consistently do that? By practicing mindfulness.
Consider another example that relates to my own life. When my kids were young, one of our favorite guilty pleasures for eating out was at Captain D’s. On one wall of this restaurant, near the cashier, was the image of a watch face with a letter corresponding to each hour. IWIDRNHMAWIW. No explanation. Just that picture.
Finally, one day I asked the cashier what it meant, and she told me the secret message that fit OMAAT like hand in glove. “Is What I’m Doing Right Now Helping Me Achieve What I Want”? This premise is the opposite of what I define as “Mindlessness,” that stealthy enemy that takes our time and attention and defeats goal-driven thinking. I suggest we repeat this same question to ourselves daily, always being vigilant about mindlessness vs. mindfulness. Thanks for joining me for part 2 of this blog post, One Moment at a Time. Please check back next week for our wrap up of this message on mindfulness.