Imagine a tightrope walker suspended above a canyon. He sways back and forth with the wind, but he doesn’t lose his balance. He uses the wind to help him balance. Any normal person would buckle under the pressure, but not him. He is unaffected by all of it.
Even though the stakes are high, the tightrope walker continues on his journey–swaying left or right when necessary, but always coming back to center.
Not all of our lives are this dramatic–I personally hope to never be in this man’s position–but our lives do revolve around the same premise. If you’re going to continue walking down your path, you’re going to need balance.
My exercise journey
Recently, I started exercising more. I set a goal for myself to do 10,000 push-ups this year. The first few weeks went great. I was sore every day, but I was getting much stronger.
Then, the front of my shoulders started to hurt. By starting hard and fast, I was building up my pecs, deltoids, and triceps, but I was neglecting my rotator cuffs–tiny little muscles in my shoulder. After I bought some resistance bands to strengthen my rotator cuffs, my push-ups were better than ever.
Then, I got a shooting pain under my left shoulder blade. It hurt so much I started getting nauseous. The problem: I was building my chest and arms while ignoring my back muscles. I had to start incorporating pull-ups into my routine. Doing so increased my max number of push-ups even more.
This helped for a while until I hurt my lower back. I had my upper body covered, but I’ve been ignoring my core and lower body. Once I recover, I’ll add more squats and sit-ups into my routine.
I’ve made a lot of progress since I started, and I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now without balancing my routine. By adding other exercises, my push-ups got easier and easier. If I had just continued doing my push-ups through the rotator cuff and upper back injuries, I probably would’ve made my situation even worse.
I needed (and still need) more balance in order to succeed.
Financial independence is no different
If you go as hard as you can and are so strict with your routine, you’re going to hurt yourself. If you sacrifice a lot to save $1,000 one month, the chances are high that you’ll blow it all the next month.
Your brain demands balance, and it will get it no matter what. If it’s painful to save money, your brain’s going to need pleasure to offset it.
It’s a law of physics. When a pendulum swings in one direction, the backswing is just as high, but in the opposite direction.
So how do you get ahead?
Move your center
Instead of trying to push the swing in a certain direction, change the center of the swing. That’s what I did by changing my workout routine. After each misstep, I started swinging from a different starting place.
The goal hasn’t changed, but my steps have.
If you’re going to better yourself and your finances, you need to make changes you can live with. Don’t save $1,000 one month and spend it all the next. Instead, you might want to keep some little luxuries and save $250 both months.
By making your goals sustainable, you set yourself up for long-term success. And since we’re talking about financial independence for the rest of your life, the long-term game matters most.
And don’t ever let your foot off the gas.
Once saving $250 a month becomes easy, start saving $300 a month, then $400, then $500. Making sustainable goals doesn’t mean that you give up on progress. You may start slow, but your efforts build momentum over time.
As long as you are consistent in your efforts, your results will compound over time.
Improving your life is no easy task. Considering I could barely do 10 push-ups at a time, I set my goals high by trying to do 10,000 this year.
There’s been many injuries and obstacles along the way, but I learn from every challenge, and I try to keep my balance. By making a more rounded exercise routine, I made it much easier to hit my goal.
Like the tightrope walker, there’s always gusts of wind and stress keeping you from reaching your goal.
The tightrope walker didn’t start with cliffs on his first day. He started slacklining on the campus quad and slowly increased the difficulty. Little by little, he kept pushing himself to improve.
But he never lost his balance.
Move too fast, and you’re sure to fall. As long as you’re improving, there’s no improvement too small. Sooner or later, you’ll be suspended above the canyon, too.
Calm as can be.
Thanks for reading!
Featured photo source: Casey Horner on Unsplash