My Aunt Judy loves to tell this story about my childhood. I’ve heard her tell it to my wife, to my two oldest children, to my sister and once to one of my cousins. She tells it well, so I still laugh every time, but the basic gist goes something like this:
One summer when we drove up from California to visit your family (Aunt Judy is my mom’s sister), we all went up to the river together. All day before we left, and all morning as we drove up, Joe kept saying, “Today I’m going to show you how I can put my face in the water!” He was so excited to show us how he could put his face in the water and when we finally got to the river, unpacked our lunch, we all headed down to the water. Joe didn’t get his head wet the whole day, he didn’t even get close to putting his face in the water!
I’m sure there was a good reason I didn’t put my head in the water. In fact, as I remember the day, the water was full of piranhas and other face-eating fish. I was protecting myself from having to live a life with one eye and no nose! Convenient how my aunt always forgets to tell that part of the story.
I don’t know what was wrong with me that day. I had all the equipment (complete with face mask and flippers), I had all the desire (my younger sister was already swimming like a fish), but something about the water just terrified me, and my face didn’t even get wet. All the desire in the world doesn’t mean squat if you don’t take action.
Is there anything in your life that you want to do really bad, but you have never actually taken action toward it? Maybe it’s a dream vacation? Maybe it’s a plan to visit church again? Maybe you want to work on your marriage, improve your parenting, learn a new skill or start saving money for the future? Whatever it is, just having desire will never be sufficient to help you make those wishes a reality.
Likewise, just knowing how to do something doesn’t bring that thing any closer to being a part of your life. You can read all the marriage books you want, knowing what to do won’t improve your marriage. Brian Klemmer’s book title says it best: “If How-To’s Were Enough, We’d All Be Skinny, Rich and Happy!”
Passion can motivate us and knowledge can guide our movements, but if we don’t act on what we know and feel, we’ll never make progress toward our goals.
This past January, I begin the process of really focusing on my health. I started tipping the scales at 215 pounds (I hadn’t weighed that much since I was 9 months old!) and my new job had me sitting on my rear end quite a bit. So I talked to my wife, figured out what I needed to do (she is an awesome health coach) and set some goals.
Strangely, two weeks later I still weighed 215 pounds, I was still lacking any kind of energy and I generally felt lousy. So strange, because I wanted to start working out. I knew what foods I needed to eat and what dietary changes I needed to make but after two weeks, nothing had changed!
That’s when coach Traci stepped in and started using small words and drawing pictures so I could understand — it was time for me to start taking action. I had to change my morning routine, had to start adding a workout during the lunch break and she helped me make a few minor meal changes. Shortly after that, in some carrot-drug-induced state she tricked me into signing up for a 1/2 marathon. As a result, I had to start adding a running program to my workout, because before February 14th, 2014, I had never run for more than 20 straight minutes at any one time in my life!
After about 8 weeks, I was beginning to see results. My energy was up, my weight was down and the changes Traci was helping me make were sticking — this wasn’t a fast and furious trend, I was actually starting to make it a lifestyle. Great USANA shakes in the morning, vitamins twice a day, workouts 3-4 times a week and extending my runs so that on two occasions now, I’ve run for over 35 minutes. In fact I’m writing this today from a hotel room in Ohio, where it’s 12:30am and I just completed a 20 minute-run to make sure I got my workout in for the day. While I still hate running, I am enjoying the consistent schedule.
The point is this: we’ve got to take action on the desires and knowledge that we have. Your health won’t change with a subscription to Weight Watchers. You won’t get suddenly lean and motivated by reading Runners World. Those are helpful tools, but without action, they will only seek to fool your house guests into believing you are health conscious.
Today, you’re probably not lacking desire for change. Today, you’re probably not even lacking in knowledge, at least, not in the beginning stages of whatever it is you’re after. Today, you need to take action. Today you need to move on what you already know and move toward your goals and dreams.
What actions will you take today?
5 down, 35 to go.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!