It’s been 14 months since I graduated from school and began to practice as an independent physical therapist. In that time, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve written about it here, here and here. However, this blog is about something that I’ve noticed in recent weeks more than ever. It’s about human nature and the ever present struggle to be consistent.
People are impatient.
We live in a world with a microwave culture; we want things done now. From patients to clinicians to every human being on this earth, we are conditioned to want the quick fix and instant gratification. Under this pervasive, and often subconscious framework it can become increasingly frustrating when progress seems slow and even disheartening when things don’t happen as expected. However, I’m here to encourage you, as a patient, as a clinician or just as a person chasing goals, to keep at it. In time, good things happen to those who are consistent.
Sometimes all it takes is one more step.
There is no failure except in no longer trying.” Elbert Hubbard
In the clinic and in life, it’s not uncommon for there to be a disconnect between effort and outcome. There’s lag time. Sometimes the lag time is short, sometimes it’s longer and sometimes in that lag time that it feels like the effort isn’t worth it. In that lag time space, the desire to continue on can dwindle. I’ve seen this with my patients and I’ve experienced this over and over again in my personal life. However, through struggle of my own, I’ve come to realize that sometimes the result is right around the corner even when we can’t see it. The best at what they do understand that it (life and everything in it) is a process and there is inherent value in trusting that process. The trust allows for extended and consistent effort and in the end, it’s not about intensity or immediate solutions. Instead, it’s about being consistent, intentional, diligent and relentless in the pursuit of becoming better. In order to be successful, the process has to be fueled with purpose and filled with trust. To make better sense of this idea, let me talk about melting ice…
In the past month, I went through a book for the second time, it’s from author James Clear and it’s called “Atomic Habits.” In the book, Clear draws a parallel between habits and melting ice that couldn’t have resonated on a deeper level. Not only has this analogy helped me persist through personal plateaus, but I’ve been using it with patients when progress stalls and it’s hit home with them too. Here’s how It works…
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” Dale Carnegie
When attempting to melt ice, a subtle one-degree shift, can unlock a huge change. However, there are may shifts in temperature that come before that don’t appear to change anything. Let’s imagine for a second that there is an ice cube sitting in a room that is 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Your goal is to melt the ice cube. Let’s also imagine that you don’t know anything about ice or at what temperature it melts. You decided to turn up the temperature because a warmer temperature must melt ice.
You turn the thermostat to 27 degrees and nothing happens.
Slightly disappointed that the ice is still solid, you decide to turn up the temperature; 28 degrees.
You figure that it must have to be warmer, so you try 29 degrees.
Shoot; disappointment builds and you’re losing patience but try again; 30 degrees.
Disappointment turns to frustration, but you’ll give it another go; 31 degrees.
Frustration turns to discouragement as your effort appears wasted. In the back of your mind, you remember hearing something about thirty two and melting, so in a last ditch effort, you try one more time; 32 degrees.
With six attempts and absolutely no (perceptible) change, you throw in the towel.
This is what happens to all of us at some point or another. It might be in the clinic or in another area of our lives. We put in effort and stop short because the results haven’t come. We stop pursuing an intervention or chasing a goal because our effort doesn’t match our expectations. We don’t trust the process and we stop short when the results are right around the corner. One more degree and the ice melts. Sometimes all it takes is one more attempt, one more week, one more push. I’m not telling you to keep banging your head against a wall. No. There needs to be critical thinking and appropriate adjustments along the way. The path is never straight and the road is never smooth. However, with our patients and with our selves, we can all do a better job a preaching and living the importance of being consistent and being persistent in the pursuit of goals.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas Edison
I hope that this analogy resonated with you as much as it did with me. I hope that this blog provided a spark of inspiration or an ounce of value to your life. I hope that you can find a way to translate these words into action and use them to help yourself and encourage your patients. It’s not always an easy job to convince people that their effort will be worth it. In life, effort comes with a cost. For some it means sacrifice and for others it means stepping outside of a comfort zone. Whatever it is for you, I hope that I have convinced you that your consistent effort is worth it.
This wouldn’t be a Joe Rinaldi blog without a quote, so here it is…
“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” Mahatma Gandhi
Go put in the effort and win this day.
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT