Work At It.
It’s 12:54 AM. I got out of bed about 15-20 minutes ago and just started doing crunches and shoulder shrugs with these plastic weights filled with sand that I keep in my basement. Some guy across the street left them in one of those Free to a Good Home piles when he was moving, so I took them. They’re an awkward 33.6 lbs. each (each one has two weights that say 8.8 lbs.), but I don’t really care…I usually just lift them until my arms are tired.
I’m struggling because I haven’t written anything in awhile, 34 days to be exact. The last time I went this long in between posts was when I waited two months to publish The Calm Before The Storm. Have you ever just starred something right between the eyes and you still couldn’t do it, or you couldn’t open your mouth? Like every teenage drama queen of this generation you uttered the words, “I just can’t even right now!” Writing for me has felt like a pile of dishes in a college frat house, avoid at all costs and someone eventually will do it for me, right?
As I’m tackling my student teaching, my days begin at 5:45 AM with school starting at 7:25 AM and ending at 2:05 PM. After that it’s usually some paperwork and a quick snack (protein bar, fruit, or yogurt) before I head over to the weight room between 2:45-3:00 PM for a workout that usually lasts about an hour and a half. Strangely enough, what piques my interest at the workouts is the beginning and end of the workout where, to put it plainly, the kids just stretch. While they’re stretching, every single day, without fail, the head coach, Matthew Christ (a guy who shares a lot of the same ideas as I do about helping kids be their absolute best), says three words that I just can’t get out of my head, “Work at it!”
If you break the words down to their simplest form and take them at face value, they’re nothing special. Honestly, at this point him saying it has become so routine I wonder if the words even register with the kids. But for me, there could almost be nothing better he could say in that situation. Similar to the Bud Light commercial where the guy wishes he had a beer vendor with him all the time, I wish all of us had a Coach Christ for those major moments we face daily. Because as straightforward as it sounds, we don’t work at a lot of the things that we want or say we want in our lives, and then we end up either frustrated or very confused as to why it didn’t happen.
Everything we want we need to work at. The relationships we have with people, our parenting, getting to bed earlier (update…it’s now 1:23 AM and I’m writing like I just had a Venti Caramel Macchiato with two espresso shots), getting up when the alarm goes off (you know who you are), not eating junk food, flossing, getting to work on time, or even insert your thing here. If you've played sports you understand two things will always be true, game day is the best, and stretching is the worst. The sad truth is, especially in football, you get to stretch way more than you get to play. But you have to take pride in it and work at it, and be able to withstand how uncomfortable it is, because it's going to hurt…bad.
The conversation you need to have with your significant other might suck, but work at it. Quitting your job and spending almost two years getting your Master’s Degree online while all your friends are partying, taking trips, and eating tacos at happy-hour as you student-teach for free might suck…this is me speaking from experience. But I’m working at it, though. Getting to bed 5 minutes earlier, or not buying chips, cookies, and pop over time might seem like the worst thing in the world, but if you can be consistent, it eventually becomes so routine that you won't even think about it.
Next time you’re doing something uncomfortable or you find yourself avoiding insert your thing here, quickly remind yourself, “Hey, just work at it.” Just because you try doesn’t mean you have to be your best at that moment, give something up cold turkey, or settle a disagreement right that second.
Think about this, when I first showed up on Bowling Green's campus I couldn’t even touch my toes when I bent at the waist. By the time I was done playing, I could easily press my hands flat on the ground. I didn’t do anything special either, I just worked at it.
Now, if we could only get the guys at the Kappa Sigma house to start by washing just one dish each!