It’s About the Process!

I was talking with a friend over a beer and we were catching up what we were up to, work, etc. This friend is a carpenter, but more importantly for the purpose for this article, he is also an avid sailor. Each year he takes a few weeks off to go sailing. It’s usually a fairly long sail, whether it is delivering a boat, or sailing south for a race. He can be on a boat for weeks at a time. Anyway, I asked if he had taken his usual sail and unfortunately for him he did not. That got us on the topic and one thing led to another and I asked him some questions regarding navigation that I never really understand. He likes to sail with very few pieces of electrical navigation equipment. We were talking about how anybody these days can get a boat, turn on their GPS, point their boat towards their destination, throttle up and go without any training to get from point A to point B as fast and easy as possible. That may sound like a good thing but to a “hardcore” sailor that defeats the purpose of sailing, and that is what we talked about for a while. He likes to sail with his paper charts and log books out, recording their suspected position every hour based on speed, direction, landmarks, etc. He went into fairly good detail about when you are sailing you are taking notes, noticing landmarks, checking out your depth finder and comparing the depth you are in to the depths noted on the charts. We talked about how this was done even before depth finders, about how sailors used celestial navigation, about how when a sailboat would spot land, they wouldn’t just B-line in straight ahead to the shore. There was a process involved to making landfall. The ships would tack back and forth parallel to shore retrieving as much info as they could, taking notice of the sea floor and what it was made of (shells, sand, rock) and comparing that to previously recorded info, watching the tides, etc so they could eventually make a more educated guess of their location and eventually have a safe journey to land. It was a process. Sailing isn’t about getting from point A to point B as fast as you can, of course unless you are in a race. I’m referring the sailing in a non-racing context. It’s the process of how you get to point B from point A that is what is enjoyable. That is sailing, what happens between points A and B. Figuring out all the variables and how to manage them so you safely travel from point A to point B. It’s a challenge, it’s the thoughtful process of sailing, not only getting to point B.
After talking to another friend who is a carpenter, I realized that is also how many carpenters who love their job also view their work. They enjoy the process of building, they enjoy the process of reading architectural drawings, problem solving, trouble shooting, etc. They enjoy the process of seeing a structure arise from nothing more than what was once just a stack of 2×4’s and sheets of plywood.
As parents, when we are deep in it when our kids are younger, many of us find ourselves thinking of a point in the future that we can’t wait to get to, where this will all be better or easier and either ignore the present time, or view the present time as difficult, not enjoyable, etc. We don’t always recognize the present time as something enjoyable, as part of the great process of being a parent. Now that my kids are getting older I now realize that I wasted a lot of time back then focusing on a certain point in the future where it would magically “all be better” instead of realizing how much fun the present time should have been, had I viewed it differently, if I viewed it as part of the whole process. Granted, I’m aware (and even more so my wife, and all you moms) that it just does plain suck sometimes. Not sleeping is miserable. More often than not I now look at the dirty socks and sneakers lying around the house as something I’m fortunate enough to have in my life (w/in reason of course) instead of thinking “fuck, I can’t wait for my kids to be out of the house so I don’t have to deal with their dirty shit everywhere”. All the toys that my kids left lying around the house were/are a sign that I am lucky enough to have my kids in my life. The alternative of never having had the happiness of having kids and having their dirty socks, smelly hockey equipment, or clothes laying everywhere they shouldn’t be makes me appreciate now, it helps me appreciate the process. Hindsight really is 20/20.
And guess where I am going with this? It should be the same process for you getting in better shape and achieving better health. It’s the process, it’s the learning, it’s the effort, it’s the problem solving, it’s the expected unexpected roadblocks that you encounter. It’s learning about your body and how it responds to foods, exercises, stress, the environment, etc. All of it should be expected and appreciated on some level. There is no real point B when it comes to our health because as long as you are alive and want to be healthy then you will have to take actions for that to happen, and to maintain it. The problem with most today is they want point B right now. People give up after 2-3 weeks of a sub-par effort because they didn’t see results and therefore what’s the point. Many stop trying, and eventually end up getting worse, making it that much harder to visualize themselves getting their health back because they are now two steps behind instead of the one that they were when they quit. Getting healthy is a constant process, it is a constantly evolving and changing process. As your environment, job, stress levels, habits, and body age change, so will your approach. You will never just reach a point where you are “done”. You may reach a point where you are happy with how you feel, and look, and perform, but guess what? It takes constant work to maintain that, and it may get a little bit harder requiring a little bit more effort, or a different approach as we age. It is what it is. But it is 100% worth it if you go about the process correctly. Appreciate the journey. Accept the process as something positive. No one is saying you cannot enjoy yourself or that you have to give up everything that makes you “happy” to become healthier. The process is different for everyone, but it still is a continuous process. Let me be very clear, I write all this as much to remind myself of this as I do to get my point across to you. I very often have to remind myself to enjoy and appreciate the process, and the present time, I too sometimes just want to throw in the towel.
Let’s change our perspective on our health and what it should take to “get back in shape”. It is your priority, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful, rushed process. Instead just view it as a part of your daily life, not something you have to miserably “just get through” until you don’t need to do it anymore. Enjoy the times when you “fall off the wagon”, appreciate them as part of the process, but you better chase that fucking wagon back down and climb aboard as fast as you can and enjoy the ride until you fall off again. Then enjoy that, and rinse and repeat.

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