“I tried <insert new activity or lifestyle routine> and it didn’t work.”
As a yoga instructor, health coach and endurance running coach, this is something I’ve heard often. And more times than not, the person hoping to see results either 1) tried to make massive changes that wouldn’t stick or 2) started small – which is good – but didn’t give it enough time.
Too often, we want instant gratification, especially when it comes to our health. In almost every other area of life, it’s easy to speed up the process to get what we want. Need extra cash? Pick up a temporary side job. Hungry with no time to shop for groceries? Get food delivered to your door within the hour! When it comes to physical and mental well-being, however, there is no substitute for putting in the time.
Going back to the two situations I see most often, it’s necessary to take a step back to understand why these methods don’t work and how they can be easily altered to create massive change (with a little patience).
Big Shift, No Change
Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, a health scare or some other motivating event, readiness to change can come on quickly after months or years of thinking about it. The problem is that we’re often inspired by an end result without considering everything it takes to get there. Instead of committing to small, daily shifts, we aim for a massive overhaul that can cause frustration, burnout or, worse, injury.
A perfect example of this is someone who has taken a few yoga classes here and there, followed several “celebrity yogis” on Instagram and is ready to start their own regular practice. It’s easy to see advanced postures and other people moving effortlessly through poses online, but it’s an entirely different situation to go from rarely practicing yoga to taking daily power flow classes (this is just one example).
Potential injury aside, making huge changes like this often causes instant frustration and leads a person who started with great intentions to quitting altogether.
Small Shift, No Patience, No Change
As you can tell from the title of this post, small shifts can make the biggest impact. But not within days or even weeks – sometimes longer. If you want to make real strides toward your goals, consistency is the answer. Of course, it’s okay to have a few hiccups or run into roadblocks along the way – we all do – but if you want to see big change, you must choose small and manageable steps to get there.
Take the same example from above – someone (maybe YOU) who is ready to begin a new yoga routine. Instead of overdoing it, that individual may start with a 3x weekly Beginner’s class to develop a foundation and learn proper alignment. While this may be an excellent plan, this routine will not prepare a beginner for advanced poses and arm balances right away. Without guidance from a good teacher, that same person my give up and think it’s not “working.”
Small Shift, Consistency, Big Change
Technology has created amazing opportunities and conveniences we couldn’t have ever imagined. Unfortunately, it has also created unrealistic expectations in more ways than one. Aside from craving instant gratification, we also tend to look to others online for inspiration. However, especially in the yoga world, these examples are not realistic or even necessary. Pressing up to handstand may look fun, but it’s not needed to have a practice that creates physical and mental strength.
Even if yoga is not your big goal, it offers a perfect analogy for all the change you’re working toward. Instead of committing to achieving a headstand, commit to a routine that may get you closer to that goal in a healthy way. And realize that even if you don’t see changes from day to day, committing to the process will result in big changes down the road.