This week, I’m traveling to the mountains of southwestern Virginia to spend some time in Nature with Frank and friends. As many of us take time away from our normal schedules and routines, I have been thinking persistently about persistence.
It can be easy, in the summer, to let go of positive intentions for making healthier, happier habits or of shifting away from those not-so-helpful tendencies. Why? Well, because, you see, the kids are out of school and I have to drive them more places and we went on vacation and I like to play in the garden and ice cream tastes so good when it’s hot out.
I’m not here to rag on summer for messing up our path toward growth and overall enlightenment. On the contrary, I think it’s good and healthy to break out of our patterns and shake things up at least a couple times a year. My suggestion is, though, to set an intention for getting back to those helpful practices when you come back from your vacation/taking the kids to the pool/the ice cream spree.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” — Calvin Coolidge
There are many ways to support ourselves in maintaining or returning to the practices that sustain us. One of my favorite thinkers on the subject is Leo Babauta on his ZenHabits blog and one of my favorite posts of his on the subject is called The Four Habits that Form Habits. What I’m talking about here is really about Habit #4: Have a Plan for When you Falter. Presume that summer will set up some kind of obstacle that will take you away from your intention. The suggestion is to make a plan for getting back to doing what you want to be doing. Accountability is big in this endeavor. Get a buddy to do it with you or at least tell somebody your intention. It makes a huge difference.
“The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” — James Whitcomb Riley
This summer, I knew wanted to continue my yoga practice even though I knew I’d be away for several weeks. My intention is to take yoga every day that I’m in Charlottesville this summer. So the day after Memorial Day, I started a 30-Day Yoga Challenge: 30 classes in 30 days (I did 33 days, actually – just finished this morning!) Mostly, it was great fun and I feel really good…and there were definitely days that it would have been easier not to go. That 615am class comes right early, I’m telling you what. But I knew that my other Challenge Buddies would be there and my teachers were encouraging me, so I really wanted to show up and put the date on the chart at the end of class. I was mostly happy once I got there (maybe with the exception of the evening that they’d cleaned the carpets — it was so humid it was like doing yoga under water). When I get home again, I’m planning a 38-Day Challenge from the last week of July to the end of August! I’ll let you know how that goes.
So what would you like to do more of this summer? Where could you apply some persistence to help yourself do/be/have what you’d really love? Woody Allen famously said that “80 percent of success is just showing up.” And while we have to do our best even at the 615am yoga class, showing up really is the biggest and most challenging part. So get your butt on your meditation cushion. Tie on your sneakers and go for a run. Buy and prepare some green veggies this week. Make a commitment not to yell at your kids. You’ll falter, you will. It’s the nature of things. What is key is what your response is when you do.
One step at a time. Drop by drop, my friends, we can make the Grand Canyon!
Have a great week!
PS For my ACAC Nia friends, all of my classes this week will be taught by other members of the fabulous ACAC Nia team. Check out the teaching line up throughout the summer (and any time you want to know the latest info on who’s teaching when) at the ACAC Web site.