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Change: It Always Hurts At First!

When I was a couch potato, I had it easy. I hardly ever felt tired. After all, how could you feel tired if you’re never really pushing yourself? Don’t get me wrong. I worked very hard at my job and I even exercised my mind quite diligently by reading books for several hours after getting home. But when it came to physical fitness, I had no habits of pushing myself.

Once I started working out every day, my life got worse. Seriously. For the first couple of weeks, I had to spend twenty minutes of my day feeling like I was going to die. Additionally, I had to do laundry more often because I was using up a clean pair of shorts and a fresh tee-shirt every day. That’s not all. I also lost at least one hour of time due to stretching, travel time, and the extra shower I was taking per day. And to make things worse, my appetite increased as a result of my increased daily energy output. And that’s not all. My grocery bills increased because eating healthier foods cost more than eating convenient cheap junk food. In trying to make my life better, I actually made it worse.

And that, my friends, is the essential lesson of personal development:

It gets worse before it gets better.

In order to achieve progress, you have to adopt practices that disrupt familiar patterns. And when you do, that’s going to produce a lot of discomfort and inconvenience. In the Secret Power Within, Chuck Norris writes “You have to slow down to go faster.”

When I first upgraded my wireless phone to a much more sophisticated brand, I learned all about slowing down to go faster. I went from being able to do simple things really quickly to taking several minutes just to learn how to manage the basics of a new operating system. That’s called the learning curve. It eventually pays off, but it’s a nuisance in the beginning.

If you want to introduce positive changes in your life, be encouraged. Sometimes it’ll feel like you’re going backwards when you’re really just struggling with the challenges of a higher level. Stick with it. You can’t achieve your goals of going faster until you learn to embrace the zen of being a little slower. As the book of Proverbs says “Despise not the day of small beginnings.”

Here’s a wonderful story from Tamina Zaheri about the power of being patient and not giving up on yourself.

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