Saturday, January 15, 2005

Clawing My Way Out

Well, I'd been looking forward to today for a while--the day when we'd finally start bringing down the monster, taking the bites out of the elephant, clawing our way out of the hole--whatever analogy seems appropriate to your character.

Today, I went from a guy who's been getting himself deeper in debt to a guy who's getting out of debt. That, in and of itself, is a turnaround.

I started off the day running in the park. I spent the afternoon paying off debt, even getting ahead again on a couple of bills we'd been behind on, and paying off a couple of outstanding bills we'd let sit because we didn't know how or when to deal with them. I'd managed to save a bit extra from my last paycheck, so we were able to do all that. Then, I spent the evening lifting weights with my brothers.

None of it was as great as it could have been. I dropped pine cones every three yards or so in the park and tried to recreate the drill basketball players do where they start at the baseline, then run and touch the free throw line, then go back to the baseline, then run and touch the top of the key, then repeat with the three point line, half court line, and each line until you get to the other side of the court. I'd planned on doing it for 30 minutes, but I didn't even make it to 10.

You can see from the tale of the tape what kind of debt I made in the bills. Not a bad chunk--I'm certainly not upset about it--but not the kinds of numbers that are going to get me out in a year.

My wife made rolls and breadsticks that turned out fantastic, and I had more than I should have. Do you know white flour has 100 calories per 1/4 of a cup?

And lifting tonight, it reemphasized how far I'm behind where I've been before. We worked out back and biceps, and mostly for biceps I just used the bar. My muscles are going to be mean to me tomorrow.

Even with all that, it was exactly the kind of day that this turnaround is about.

Sir Winston Churchill said, "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

I'd modify that to say "Success is maintaining enthusiasm even when reality starts to set in." It's easy to imagine yourself thin and healthy, easy to imagine yourself out of debt, easy to imagine yourself living the lifestyle you wanted. It's easy to get excited about those images.

But when it's not just about images in your head, when it's about sore muscles and letting the roll sit there uneaten and foregoing that extra purchase and locking yourself into a budget, that's when continued enthusiasm starts breaking ground on the path to success.

You can't do it all at once, in one grand gesture of working out or paying a whole bunch of money or buying that 80 video set. Explosions don't make diamonds. Explosions make messes. Diamonds come from consistent, intense pressure applied over time.

That's how success is really brought about.

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