By Peggie Arvidson
Five Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life
One of my nearest and dearest is participating in a triathlon as I’m writing this. Several months ago, when she announced this plan I was speechless. I admit I was awestruck – the enormity of a triathlon seemed insurmountable. My friend is active but not weight lifting, marathon running and swimming and biking miles on end active – still she threw down her own gauntlet and when she does that, she commits 100% which is one of the reasons I admire her.
As the weeks turned into days prior to the big event I asked how she was feeling and she told me she was as prepared as she’ll ever be and was ready for it to get started. We chuckled. Then she reminded me that it was 5 minutes a day that brought her along this journey.
That was so profound I’ve been thinking about it all week.
Many times in my life I’ve wanted a change and I’ve wanted it NOW. My earliest recollection of this tendency of mine is heading home to my mom and demanding she teach me to read. My friend Wendy had learned to read and therefore I, too, needed to be able to read a book on my own. My mother sat with me but needed to stop to make dinner. I was not happy about that interruption and insisted that we couldn’t stop until I could read. Eventually I did learn to read, however, I didn’t have it down in one night, much to my chagrin.
How often do we do this in our lives?
As we get older we may set out toward a goal – to start a business, to start a family, to travel the world, to write a novel, to play an instrument – only to stop when it begins to feel overwhelming. The problem is, when you’re a beginner, everything is overwhelming! Learning to play an instrument involves learning not only the rules of the instrument, but how to read sheet music, how to understand timing and of course getting your hands to participate in the way necessary to make music! This can be frustrating at best and mind-numbing at worst. (Take it from someone who plays more than 8 instruments poorly!)
What happens when we fall into this overwhelm? We beat ourselves up for being stupid, or too old, or too young, or not hard-wired to think this way and we stop. We tell ourselves it’s no big deal and it wasn’t really meant to be in the first place.
This is why so many people seek out psychics, tarot readers and hand analysts to tell them what they should do with their lives. They want to have a line on what is the “right” way to spend their time and their energy. They feel that they don’t want to waste time learning or trying out something that will turn out to be the wrong thing.
What if there is NO wrong thing? What if every nudge you have to take on a big challenge, like a triathlon when you haven’t participated in athletic competition for more than a decade, is simply a knock to wake you up to living now?
We’re afraid to be beginners. Many people confess that they took piano lessons as an adult but quit in a few months because they just couldn’t get the sound they wanted and they were embarrassed to sound like a beginner. “But you are a beginner,” I suggest gently. “Yeah, that’s the point, I don’t like being a beginner. People will laugh at me and I don’t want to risk that.”
That’s the end of it for them.
We’ve bought into this idea that we’re born with certain talents or we’re not and that we shouldn’t get in our own way and try new things. Isn’t that crazy? When I was 5 and wanted to learn to read I also wanted to be a ballerina, a lawyer, and a famous jockey. When I was 8 I wanted to be a spy and a writer and I wanted to ride horses.
Over the years I’ve dabbled in dance, pre-law classes and many years of horse-back riding. I write daily. I can’t say one way or another how that spy thing worked out (lol) but I can tell you I have followed many beginner’s passions and I’ve also stopped myself short after one or two tries because of my fear of being a beginner. My pride got in the way.
That conversation with my friend, the Triathlete, rumbles in my head as I think about the next big goal on the horizon – it’s going to be completed in hundreds of five-minute increments, not one big swoop. I’m so grateful to be reminded of the simple truth that it’s seemingly small moments that change lives – let’s make the best of those moments.