Little Things Add Up

In every aspect of life.

My friend is getting back into fitness. We’ve been working on her gym plan for weeks. We’re trying to find the right combination of attainable and effective that fits into her schedule. Just the other day, she told me she did that day’s workout in about twenty minutes. She seemed to say it in a tone that indicated she hadn’t done something right. I asked her if she did the exercises and challenged herself. She said yes. I told her great- you did it perfectly.

I think we sometimes can get the wrong impression that big changes have to happen through big shifts. When really- in fitness and in life- they happen through small, slow yet steady steps.

Some of the most beautiful natural wonders come from slow yet steady changes. Like the rainbow mountains in China:

rainbow mountains

Or precious gems. Or magnificent careers. Or successful partnerships. Or… you name it.

Anything worthwhile is built through small yet steady steps. 

It isn’t an easy concept to accept- especially in a culture that thrives on immediate feedback and results. But I think it’s one of life’s most valuable lessons.

I intuitively know it, but it’s difficult to accept. I’ve embraced it more as I’ve been steadily working out for the past several months. I haven’t made dramatic lifestyle changes. But I have been dedicated to working hard and going to the gym regularly. As a result, my body looks different. It’s stronger and more toned. I like the way my pants fit me. I like the way I feel in the morning. I like the energy I have throughout the day. I like the peace of mind that steady breathing brings me.

I didn’t set out one day to make a huge dramatic change, but dramatic changes are happening. And they’re happening because I’m dedicated to slow and steady steps.

In seeing this in my own body through fitness, I’m starting to embrace it in my own career. I’ve been working for years as a creative mind. I’ve put myself out there in tons of different venues, mediums and shows and attached myself to numerous successful and unsuccessful projects. Yet, as of right now, my parents still have to buy my plane ticket home for Christmas because money is extremely tight.

But it’s starting to feel different. I’m relentless in my creative pursuits. I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve suddenly gotten good. I feel comfortable auditioning in any setting. I’m comfortable with almost any improvised or scripted situation. I can get in the zone quickly and easily. I have confidence on and off stage with my work. I’m tapping into my abilities to write and really taking advantage of it as a vehicle for showing my voice. I’m attracting inspiring people into my circles who excite me. I don’t know when it happened- but I see the change. And it’s dramatic. And it’s exciting.

It’s the same with relationships.

I’ve started really cherishing the relationships I have that have withstood the test of time. There are plenty of people who serve different small purposes in a person’s life. And those are to be relished and cherished in the moment as much as any other life experience. But the people that truly matter to you- the one’s in your inner circle – the one’s you let in… those relationships take time. It takes time to build trust. It takes time to see someone grow and change and to understand how the person they were can inform the person they are (and will affect the person they will become).

It’s fun to meet new people and it’s fun to make new connections. And often, you can immediately feel it when you meet someone who will serve an important purpose in your life- even if you don’t know it yet. But it’s not until time has passed that you get to see that purpose, and only then can you really appreciate that person’s presence in your life.

In any of these aspects, binging is possible. I can easily go on a crazy diet and workout for hours and I will see dramatic results. I can work myself to utter exhaustion thinking everyone around me is crazy and I will believe that I am the world’s best actress and writer. I can meet tons of new people and go out to lots of drinks and have lots of fun conversations getting to know them, and I will feel like I have more friends.

But when any sort of balance is introduced into a binge, the results lessen and you lose your perspective on all the things you accomplished. They came too quickly and easily. They’ll go just as quickly and easily. The returns on your investment are directly proportionate to the amount you’re willing to invest.

It’s so much more rewarding, lasting, and believable when you get the see the little things add up. When you go to the gym steadily and start realizing your body looks dramatically different. When you allow yourself to be honest and open about the work that you do, only to realize you’re finally only approaching the starting gate (and it’s taken this long because you weren’t ready and there will still lessons to learn). When you call an old friend to talk to them for the first time in months and you pick up right where you last left off. Because you know each other- not just know things about each other. You’ve built up years of trust and love that have bonded you so strong, nothing can break it now.

Become unbreakable in all aspects of you life. Slowly and steadily take steps to build yourself into the person you want to be who is surrounded by people who you want around.

There’s a confidence in small, slow and steady. You know that you’ll get where you want to go eventually. And, because it took you longer, you’ll appreciate it more and continue to work to keep whatever it is in your life.

That’s what I’m trying to do at least. And believe me, as an ambitious, high-energy, over-achiever… it’s not easy.

Have you ever done anything in your life that you built slowly and steadily, only to look back and be amazed at what you’ve accomplished? Tell me. I want to hear about it.

I’m tired of listening to myself talk. Even if it is just in my own head.

Your turn.