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Expect to Regress

It's the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend. And every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, me and two other guys jump on our scales and we record our weight and we report our weight to our group. We've all declared to one another what our weight target, weight loss, and weight maintenance goals are. And this is one of the ways that we keep ourselves accountable.

So I jumped on the scale this Monday and I am up six pounds from my prior reading, which was on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I'm up six pounds and I'm not surprised. So obviously, it means I have some work to do between now and the next holiday occasion.

One could look at this and say you have fallen off your goal. You've gone backwards. And technically I have, but let me put a pin in that p for a moment, and segue to a conversation me and my wife had.

Our daughter came home for the Thanksgiving holiday. And at one point she said, "Mom and dad, I want to ask you guys some questions." She is in a human sexuality class, and apparently they've been studying some material and she's got a project or a paper to write.

And she wants to ask us some questions because I guess our answers are going to be a part of her paper and a part of her research.

So after we finished binge watching something, she proceeded to pull out her computer and proceeded to ask us some questions. And the questions centered around me and my wife's relationship, our marriage, certain aspects about it and what our opinions are on it.

She introduced some concepts that they have been studying in class and asked for our opinions on them and where we thought our relationship was in relation to those concepts and those models.

And there was one particular question that was sort of eye opening for her.

Me and my wife were on the same page in terms of where we were, where we thought we were in relation to this sort of love triangle thing- some model that they introduced in her class.

So flash forward from that conversation to my wife and I having lunch after church on Sunday. And I said, "Well, listen, let's talk a little bit about our answers from the questions that our daughter asked us. We agree that our relationship is here. We agree that this component of it is waning a little bit. Let's talk about what we can do to improve in that area."

And I laid out what I thought the plan could be and what steps I was prepared to take to make some improvements in that area. And what I thought the effort would look like, what kind of cadence might be required, blah, blah, blah, blah. And at one point in time I looked at my wife and she had a look on her face and I said, "Okay, tell me what's wrong."

She said, "Well, listen, we've been here before. This is not new territory. This is not a new subject. We've traversed this course before we've had this conversation before. Maybe not with this kind of language before, but we've been here before. This is not new territory."

I said, "Okay, granted." And I asked, "Because this is a new territory. Does that somehow rob you of the energy to want to go on the journey again?"

She said, "Well, I'm afraid that whatever things we put in place that the habits won't stick."

I said, "Okay, well, let's assume we're going to bake that into the calculus of this plan. That our plan is going to involve and incorporate the very real possibility- almost the assurance- that at some point in time, there will be a regression. We may take three steps forward and two and a half steps back. Okay. Or we might take three steps forward and three steps back and end up right where we are. Let's assume that's going to happen. It's a guarantee that that's going to happen. Does that continue to make it something that you would fear? Is that something that you would continue to be afraid of? If you know what's going to happen and you're no longer afraid of it, what does that do to the prospects of going on the journey?"

I want to pause there and look at both of these two situations. We have one situation where I regressed from the standpoint in terms of my weight. And in another case, we're looking at another scenario where my wife has expressed a concern about possibly sliding backwards if we go on a journey and make some progress that it may not stick. So what do these two stories have to do with your second half success? And I would say to you that as you're making your second half success plans, as you're deciding what you want to pursue, the big goals that God has for you and whatever that's going to take, and the energy that's going to be involved on the path that you're going to have to trod- recognize and probably bake into your plans the idea that you're going to stumble.

You're going to fall. You may regress. You may take three steps forward two and a half steps back. It may not be, and probably won't be, a very smooth upward trajectory from one goal to another, from one success to another. It may be success, success, and then failure, failure, failure, and then success, success, failure, success, success, success. It's going to be a very herky, jerky jagged line of fits and starts, moving backwards and forward, ebbs and flows, between where you are now and eventually where you want to go.

And recognize that if you bake it into the calculus, and if you expect that to be the case, then you can enjoy the journey a little bit more for fear of not failing or fear of there not being some steps back, because you already know what's going to happen. You bake that into the calculus. It's part of the rubric. Part of the lesson plan.

It's probably where growth happens. It's probably part of the design, of the plan, is to introduce into your journey some challenges, some failures, because there's some character that needs to be developed. Some nerve that needs to be hardened as a result.

You don't aim to fail, but you expect that failure is sort of the double-sided coin of success. So that comes with it. You really can't have success without some failure, without some step backs. And I think with a lot of your progress, there's going to be some flexibility. There's going to be some stretch, but as long as you're orbiting and you don't give up on the actions that it takes you to get there. That's what's important.

And recognize even if there is some regression recognize that there is some wiring that's taken place as a result of being on the journey. There is some muscle memory that's developing. And even though there may be a time where you fall off, it won't be as difficult to get back up on the horse and ride again, because you already know how to do it. Your muscles already are familiar with that pattern and it won't be as difficult to re-engage those activities.

For example, I haven't ridden a bike in a number of years now, but I know how to ride a bike. And if I ever got on a bike, it wouldn't take me too long to ride with some level of proficiency and be very, very comfortable doing that again, and be able to make progress.

So my message to you guys today is to understand that it's going to be some regression. Bake that into the calculus of your plans. Expect it. Don't aim for it, but if it comes, don't beat yourself up about it. Just resume course and continue forward. God bless and take care.

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