Life sometimes forces you through a path you do not like in order to achieve an objective you really want. How do you deal with it?
My wife, Zora, and I have a goal to live to 100 in good health. This seemed to accessible when we were younger. No great efforts were needed to remain healthy, keep our weight and stamina. The situation changed significantly after our 40's. At least for me. It was clear that I was on an unpleasant slope.
Zora has always been health conscious. Since I met her, physical training was always part of her routine. When her mother died of cancer over 20 years ago, she became worried about her genetic heritage. She started researching ways to improve her chances not to succumb to the same fatality. She studied, read, interviewed experts, experimented, and developed her own approach to anti-aging that she shares on HackMyAge. Her commitment to a healthy future has been total, a real driver to her life.
She is a true example of what she preaches and an inspiration to many. From physical training to nutrition and sleep, she has changed her ways in order to truly hack her age. And it shows. Her energy is contagious. Her body age (measured by a bioelectrical impedance scale) appears to be stuck at 22. She was the fastest in our group to reach Uhuru peak on Mount Kilimanjaro...
It seems that changing her diet, exercising, sleeping and mental training habits was an easy process for her. She may be tempted to let go once in a while, but her motivation to remain healthy is so strong that she easily overcomes any slip-up.
My situation is quite distinct. Living a sedentary life in my 30's and 40's with 'traditional' French eating habits (bread, cheese, dishes in sauce, almond croissants, cakes...), I was quite happy...
Unfortunately, the weight started to pile on and it became difficult to keep up physically with growing teenagers.
I accommodated myself with the situation until the frustration brought me to the edge of doing something about it. But only to the edge...
I was not completely ready to change yet. My determination to stay healthy was still weaker than the perceived efforts to remedy the situation until Zora suggested I visit a personal trainer she had just met. I reluctantly went to train with Manu.
I remember our first interaction. Manu was a young personal trainer who just opened what was at the time a very small gym next to us. He was personable, knowledgeable, positive, speaking with an Argentinian accent and always carrying his mate (South American drink) around. He suggested running as an aerobic test. I was categorical that running was not my thing. After a lot of convincing, he took me on a 4 km tour which I spent walking half of the way. At 49, I was hardly able to run anymore...
With a lot of psychology from Manu and much encouragement from Zora, I embarked on a journey to turn around my life habits. My motivation strengthened with time, but their support was essential. I changed my diet and started a regular training routine. The progress was slow but profound. The results have been amazing. I am today in better shape than I was in my 20's when I was regularly playing soccer at university. I run 4 km every day at a reasonable pace. I have hiked many high altitude peaks (it is hard to believe that I had never hiked before 50). My diet is full of vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. I try to leave all sugar, bread, rice and pasta on the side.
I have gotten used to the routine. It does not cost me as much to follow it, but I still do not really like it. It would be easy for me to skip an exercise day or to indulge in one, or two, or three croissants... But I understand the potential cost of a sedentary lifestyle as you age, and I know the pain of getting in shape once you fall off the bandwagon.
So I am making sure I do not give myself any chances to slip up by exercising seven days a week, even when I travel.
To me, this journey remains over-rated but the result of feeling good and being in great shape is so much worth it! And the more I advance in age, the more I am thankful to have embarked on this path. Zora and Manu were a necessary catalyst, yet the achievement is due to my hard work and determination.
The long game
This transformation process applies to many aspects of life, particularly in business. Everybody wants the success, the money, but not many are ready to go through the pain required. Few are playing for the long game. And it is ok. Everybody can chose his own life. After all, shouldn't you live in the present?
Perhaps that is why there are so many employees and few entrepreneurs. Adopting a philosophy of earning now at a significant risk of not having enough later is totally acceptable... as long as you fully accept the consequences of your choices. In my experience, most of the people adopting this attitude (including myself) tend to endorse it while everything is going well, and are very quick to complain or regret it when the situation starts to sour.
Everybody needs to find his/her own balance. The only way is to know yourself, to know what you truly want.
You must decide for yourself if the result is worth the efforts of the journey.
If you are thinking of leaving your comfort zone for new horizons (health, business...), I suggest:
you clearly state your motivation: what will make you get up in the morning (when you do not feel like it) and still keep you going?
you start acting and forget any excuses.
you surround yourself by supportive people.
you avoid negative social interactions that will push you to revert to bad habits.
you develop a well-defined routine.
you acknowledge and celebrate small wins.
you visualize success during the effort.
I often reflect on why it was easy for me to play the long game in business, and not for my own health. I guess it has to do with one's affinities, education and perhaps some life events. Lack of belief, confidence or vision also plays a big part in it.
In my mentoring activities, I find most people need a partner or coach (health, nutrition, life, business...) to kick off their journey and help maintain their progress steady. This person can be the seed to transformation, yet the achievement ultimately depends on us.
Please share with us similar situations where a special person helped you embark on a difficult path that led to worthwhile results.