DH = Dear Husband
How’s that New Year’s “Every. Day.” plank resolution going?
I’m a little sheepish as I consider my New Year’s resolution for 2016. It came out of Christmas day 2015 when I tried on the dress DH had given me. The first thing I noticed in the mirror was the prominence of my belly – so much so that I had to wear “shapewear” to make it work. Ugh!
Resolution: I would not have to rely upon shapewear to wear that dress on Christmas day of 2016. How to reach that goal: “Every day, I will do a plank. Every day. I’m putting that stake in the ground. I’ll start at 2 minutes, but each month, my goal will be to increase by 15 seconds so that by the end of 2016, I’ll be holding a 5-minute daily plank . . . I’ll do a plank. Every. Day”
January 1, I set the timer app on my phone to 2:00, and as I got into plank position, I hit “Start”. Success! Mission accomplished. For the first couple of weeks, I stayed faithful to my resolution until . . . I was off any form of exercise before the end of January because of a muscle spasm in my neck. So much for “Every. Day.”
But that was OK. It was a legitimate excuse, and part way into February, I was able to work out again. I re-set the timer on my phone to 2:15. There! Back on track. “Every. Day.” But then some days I would forget. Other days, I spent all of my energy at the gym and didn’t have anything left over for a plank. And something else crept in. As I kept re-setting my timer each month – 2:30 for March; 2:45 for April; 3:00 for May; 3:15 for June – it got really hard!
Expectations and discouragement
I found I had to psyche myself up more and more just to do it. I found that increasingly, I had to quit before the timer reached zero. I found that it was becoming easier to skip my “Every. Day” plank. Not because I’d been to the gym. Not because I’d forgotten. But because I had come to dread it. Uh-oh.
This past Monday – June 27 – I realized that I hadn’t done a plank in at least a week. Hmmm…. Something had to change. I made a little adjustment to my resolution: My goal is still to do a plank every day – as opposed to “Every. Day” – and if I can, I will increase my time by 15 seconds each month. But if I can’t, I won’t. I’ll do my best, and that will be enough. The point is to grow stronger (and to get my belly reined in so that I can wear that dress!) – not to be discouraged by oppressive expectations.
Stopwatch vs. Timer
So this past Tuesday – which was my birthday – I did something different. I chose my phone’s stopwatch app instead of the timer. As I got into plank position, I hit “Start” – as usual – but rather than seeing how many minutes and seconds I had left, I saw how many I had accomplished. Breathe 5 times, and then look: 26 seconds. Breathe 5 times more, and then look: 53 seconds. There was less pressure to get to my June goal number. The stop time was optional. So I just kept on breathing and held a little longer. Another 5 breaths. And another. I was so focused upon my breathing that I was taken aback when the numbers went beyond 2:30. I was going to make it! Another 5 breaths – and countdown for the last 10 seconds. 3:15 after all!
A debt repayment metaphor: focus on what we’d paid off – not on what we still owe
In June of 2012, DH and I had a total debt of $257,000, including $21,000 in consumer debt, $81,000 in business debt, and $155,000 in mortgage debt. For a long time, our focus was upon how much we were accomplishing, and after we learned to wait out temporary discouragements of low-income months and high-expense times, we enjoyed a steady sense of encouragement.
But once we passed the half-way mark, our focus shifted from what we had accomplished to what we had left. Our remaining mortgage sits at $104,000 now, and that’s well below the average mortgage in Canada and the U.S. – about $155,000 in both countries. We have every reason to be encouraged in our goal to reach zero. And yet lately, DH has been saying things like, “$100,000 is still a crap ton to pay off you know.” What’s with that?
Take a look at this again: “. . . our goal to reach zero.” Isn’t that just like the timer – telling us what we still need to achieve – instead of the stopwatch – telling us what we’ve already achieved? Hmmmm …
I think it’s a bad idea for us to focus upon what we still have to pay off – even though it shrinks every month. Doing my planks, I have discovered an unexpectedly powerful encouragement in the stopwatch’s report of my achievement. The timer, in reporting what I still needed to achieve, ended up discouraging me. In the same way, I’m going to shift my focus back to what we have accomplished in our debt repayment – and away from how much we still owe.
We’ve paid $153,000 off of our total debt! And we’ll keep holding . . . through the next few breaths.
Can you relate to this “stopwatch vs. timer” metaphor? Your comments are welcome.