The Long Game: Maintaining Your Progress Over The Years

Everyone has resolutions and goals. Some people want to lose weight, get stronger, start a new hobby or sport, get better at shooting, or whatever.

So you pick a diet plan, a hobby, a sport, a goal, and you do the work. You realize your goals. People notice. Your family notices. They congratulate you on your hard work and ask how you were able to do it. You excitedly preach about your path and the methods you use. You feel accomplished, and people care about how you’re doing.

Public accountability is a strong motivating factor in sticking to a goal. Knowing that there’s an audience of people watching (no matter the size) can light a fire to keep doing the work. Checking in with progress pictures and having people comment and like give you a nice dopamine hit that makes you want more.

Time passes. The newness of your achievements wears off. Now you’re a person who just does a hobby, or weighs a healthy weight. You’re a few years past your goal and you’re just doing your thing without anyone noticing. There is a definite choice to be made here. Either progress in silence, or let the old habits sneak back in.

Sometimes people who get a taste of their goal will regress (quickly or slowly) because they fall off the wagon. They wanted to say they achieved their goal more than they wanted to improve as a human. They turned a marathon into an unsustainable sprint just to cross a line.

Sometimes the path was wrong to begin with. The diet-plan didn’t jive with your lifestyle or physiology and became unsustainable. Adjust your course and keep going.

Injuries and sickness can lead people down a path to failure. For some, they are the beginnings of a cascade of negative emotions, inactivity, and poor choices. Listen to your body, but don’t stop moving forward.

Burnout is a big problem for me. I personally tend to get obsessively focused on a goal and work towards it until I can’t stand that activity. When this happens, I have to indulge in some goal-hijacking. I have to allow myself to find something else to focus on while the fire re-ignites for the original goal. I haven’t found a shortcut for this. Just time.

Everyone fails and falls short. Everyone gets frustrated and goes off the rails. Everyone gets sick or injured and regresses. You just have to decide that you’ll maintain the discipline to start again.


Find motivation in the minutia. The deep dive. Depth of study and depth of discipline.

Remember why you started, and that you’re doing it for you. For your health, sanity, safety, whatever. People will eventually stop caring, and stop ‘liking’ your progress pictures. They might even mock you for your slip-ups. Rapid improvement will eventually become imperceptible forward progress, or maybe just maintenance. That’s how it is. And that’s fine. The journey doesn’t end.

Do The Work.

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Goal Setting: Remember That You Will Die


Art: Godfred

Memento Mori

Memento mori (Latin: “remember that you can die”[2]) is the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

-From Wikipedia

Nothing motivates me more than time. Or rather, the lack of time I have remaining. For many, the idea of mortality is a known but abstract idea that sneaks into their head occasionally on sleepless nights. For me, it’s been like a neon sign in my peripheral vision for the last 10 years (since my initial cancer diagnosis). This drives my goals and motivations for getting as good as I can, as quickly as I can, while I can. I’m thankful for that perspective.

When I see my friends squander their time and push off goals and dreams, I give them some homework to correct their course. I want them to have a visual representation of their life, of time passing, and allow that to motivate them as it may.

I’m ripping-off BarefootFTS and their excellent post about this topic.

The idea is simple…

It’s 52 blocks wide and 80 blocks tall. On the top left corner is my birthdate, and on the bottom right is the same date, 80 years later. Every week I mark off a block.

I don’t write anything or make any kind of notes. I just black it out. The only thing left is the memories I have of that week and reality of how it has affected my life. In the end, the only things any of us have are our actions and our memories.

32 years old. My actual chart is on my wall

You should fill this out for yourself. It might be uncomfortable. It might give you a knot in your stomach. Good. Fill it out by hand. Each week should get your reflection. You will be forced to notice time passing. Whether you make the time useful is up to you.

The takeaway is this: Don’t mourn the shaded area. Instead, see the potential in the space remaining. Live your life with a sense of urgency. Do Epic Shit.

Here’s a link to a Dropbox PDF to use.

Edit 1/7/16 Here’s a link to the Memento Mori – Do The Work silicone bracelets I had made right after I wrote this post. I hope it helps me remember and keeps me on track when I’m feeling weak.