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Nine and Counting

The Guideposts executive editor shares why change takes time and persistence.

On my jogs through the park I stop at the playground and lift myself off the ground on the high bar. It all started when I read a fitness magazine that suggested you do a series of 10 chin ups. “Yikes,” I exclaimed (not in those very words), “I can’t even do two.” But I started, one exhausting attempt after another, and in a couple of years—we’re talking years here—I got up to nine. Count ‘em, nine! 

Then I had heart surgery. The first day I went on my jog in the park a couple of months into my recovery, I reached up to the high bars in the playground and ugh, ouch, yuck, struggled to do one very sad pathetic chin up. “It’s not fair,” I exclaimed (in language even more colorful), “I worked so hard to get up to nine…and now I’m back at ground zero.” 

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Insert here a heavenly voice: “Rick, you did nine…you’ll get back to nine…just keep at it.”

And so I have. Struggling, sweating, squirming, scowling, promising myself that it’s really too hard for a guy like me, I’ve kept at them. Today I have something to celebrate. I got back up to nine. Not a heroic, put-it in-a-magazine nine, but one set of nine it was. I don’t expect I’ll ever repeat it again, but I did it once.  

Personal change expert Ariane de Bonvoisin emphasizes how important it is to give yourself time when you’re making a change or trying to grow in any significant way. I can tell you from experience, that if you’re recovering from surgery and you’re not happy about your progress, give it a year. Give it more than a year. It’s been 16 months since my surgery, and I’m finally up to nine chin-ups.

In another year, I’ll go for 10.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.

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