One of the most difficult lessons for me to learn is that to solve literally any problem, each person with the problem needs to approach it differently. Nowhere is this more apparent in my life than with health matters. The person I rely on most for support and guidance has a wildly different approach than I do: where a slow, steady buildup helps me to get into the groove with working out, V starts at level 11 and only goes up from there; where slow, mindful eating helps me control my nutrition by showing me what my body really needs without sending me into a restriction tailspin, V does a lot better just nix-ing dessert or snack foods. There’s nothing wrong with either approach – when V and I are both doing what we need to, we both feel healthy, comfortable in our own skin, and full of energy.
But, because I have spent a good deal of my life searching for advice, I spent an awful lot of time trying to approach things like V would instead of figuring out what worked for me.
There are a lot of authorities out there on any given subject, and we’re predisposed to think that one of them has the answer and the rest are wrong (knowingly or not). Ask any parent of more than one child, and they’re likely to tell you that there are at least 43 different places in their life where a parenting technique that was grade A for Child 1 didn’t work at all for Children 2 & 3, or vice versa. Any martial artist, likewise, will tell you that for higher level techniques, there are many ways of visualizing what one needs to do, and different visualizations work for different people (at my dojang, any given black belt would give their favorite, and end with, “and if that doesn’t work for you, just ask around until you find something that does”). That’s how the world works: different things work for different people.
But if you’re anything like me…that’s hard to remember when it comes to yourself, particularly with things like health or personal improvement of any sort (education, for example), that really hook into how we see ourselves in the world.
So, today and in the next week, here’s what I hope you’ll do: whatever that “stupid” thing is that works for you, that you think is too childish or not-what-that-one-expert-said, or whatever it is. Does doing a little dance get you going each morning in a good mood? Do it. Does wearing pink nail polish give you the oomph to get to the gym? Do it. Do you, like one of my best friends, genuinely prefer taking a vitamin D supplement to going out on walks in the sun each day? DO IT.
You want to know mine? Little pep talks written out in pretty colors of ink on pretty paper; super epic disaster movie soundtrack playlists for the gym so I can picture myself outrunning kaiju and so on; bright red lipstick. Will you find this in most professional development or diet books? Hahahahahahaha, nope. Does it work to get me to the gym and get all my work done? ABSOLUTELY.
Focus on the goal, not the steps. If you’ve found something that works for you, I hereby give you permission to stop trying to do something more dignified or grown-up instead. Do what works. Be a boss. Wash, rinse, repeat 😉