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Leading Indicators

I was bragging about a blister yesterday. This wasn’t just any blister, this was a rowing-induced, thousands-of-meters-sweating-and-working blister. I haven’t had one of those in a long time. Partly, this is breaking in a new rowing ergometer with a handle that doesn’t offer the cushioning of the previous rowing ergometer’s handle. But the handle is also angled slightly, putting a subtle pressure change in a new place on my fingers. And so I celebrated the emergence of a blister. Before you click unfollow, bear with me just a bit longer.

As you surely have guessed, the point was never the blister, but the accumulation of sweat equity that it indicates. A blister is a leading indicator of change. I’m making progress on some fitness goals, one day and one workout at a time. You may hear more about that sometime in the future. For now, there’s incremental progress and the desire to keep it going. A great habit, replacing a bad habit, does a body good.

Positive habits means checking boxes and building streaks. You check off a mission accomplished that day, then the next, and soon you want to keep that streak alive for as long as possible. When you achieve some momentum with this and then you do miss a day or two, beginning again is all you think about. The trick is to find the things you want to do to establish that positive momentum. The rest is checking boxes.

Except that it isn’t that simple. Life gets in the way, we get busy, or other things take priority, like that cold beer your closest friends want to have with you. Finding the time anyway is the trick, and when you do that beer tastes a lot better than it might have otherwise. In moderation anyway, for we’ve got more work to do tomorrow.

This is what momentum does to us. This is what progression towards a goal feels like. Incremental, positive change one workout at a time. That spot where the blister is will become callused eventually, telegraphing something even more significant: long term commitment towards a healthier life.

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