How I overcame it by changing one thing.
When my son was born, everything else seemed to stop.
My social life pretty much ended. Unless we were taking a walk as a family, physical fitness took a backseat. I tried eating healthy, but I was lazy. And, don’t get me started on how the lack of sleep was affecting me.
I was getting out of shape — physically, mentally, and socially.
I didn’t have much energy, and I was gaining weight. One of my college friends took newborn photos for us. The interesting thing was looking at myself in those pictures. Sure, I looked exhausted (because I was!), but I also appeared heavier than ever before in my life. Not just heavier in weight, but in burdens.
The exhaustion wasn’t helping. I was sleep deprived, and wasn’t thinking or reasoning right. I’ve heard it said that sleep deprivation can make you as inebriated as drinking alcohol, and I can believe it. But, this comes with the territory of having little babies…right?
It was kind of funny, because our lack of a social life wasn’t apparent at the time, but it should have been. My son needed physical therapy for a few months as a toddler. The agency coordinating this sent social workers out to provide support for the patient and their family. So, we did an inventory with the social worker, and they asked us what goals we wanted to set as a couple. Our answer? Have one date a month.
Seriously? One date a month?! This was so pitiful, because both of our parents lived within 5 miles of our house.
As if this wasn’t enough, a few months later I had to leave my job. It was a very hard decision, and took me from “bad” to “worse”.
It became a very rocky time in my marriage. My wife had just delivered our second baby, so we had two kids under age 2. We had to completely uproot our lives and move to another town. New job, rental house, and further from family support. We had never felt so depressed, isolated and overwhelmed.
My “GO” had turned into a full “STOP”
I finally reached the point where I knew that things had to improve. And, I knew that this required me to change my attitude. I’d spent enough time moping and feeling sorry for myself. I was tired of sitting around feeling overwhelmed. Our situation needed to improve, both for us and the kids.
So, we decided to get involved at our church by joining what they called a “Life Group”.
What a hard first step this was! I had to go to “Launch Night” alone, because we didn’t have a babysitter for the kids.
Basically, Launch Night looked like speed-dating for small groups. I was given a few minutes at each table to see if I connected with the leaders of that group. In the end, I got to select the leaders and/or group of people I best connected with.
It turned out that there was a couple that I knew from college that had kids the same age as mine, so I chose to join a group with them.
“At least I’ll know someone”, I thought. It was logical…but it was also providential.
Our Life Group turned out to be a success. With eight couples, you wouldn’t necessarily expect everyone to get along so well. But, we’re still hanging out weekly (sometimes daily!) almost two years later.
This was a huge change in my inertia, because our lives started a total transformation with this one decision.
Suddenly, we had a social life. We got a babysitter and started having more dates, both as a couple and as a group.
A few of the guys in the group live in our neighborhood, and were keen to start working out together. I started running with these guys, three days a week.
Several of us have kids the same age. They get together for play-dates and have adventures together. And, they get the benefit of having parents that help each other learn to be better at parenting. My wife and I are much better parents thanks to the influence of this group.
When baby number three came along, my reaction was completely different than with my first. I kept working out with the guys, so my energy levels stayed high despite the lack of sleep. I ate some great cooking, because our Life Group friends took turns making us dinners the week we got home from the hospital. I was spiritually filled by the prayers and encouragement our friends provided us.
When we started living in this new town, I thought “getting the ball rolling” again was going to be an uphill challenge. Yet, here we were, after just nine months — we had a new house, new baby, new friends, and the happiest life ever. I wasn’t rolling the ball uphill…it was rolling downhill!
Your circumstances are what you make of them.
This was especially apparent with regard to our social lives. In our old town, we had access to babysitting every day of the week, since our parents lived so close. Yet, we could hardly manage to work in one date a month. Somehow we had let the circumstances of having a child completely overwhelm our lives.
Contrast this mentality with where we were one year later. We had a great babysitter, who we called on frequently. We made time to meet with our Life Group every other week, while still having a date night twice a month. That’s the equivalent of quadrupling the time we spent working on our marriage!
Let me also point out that we now have three kids, and we still manage to make the time to invest in our relationship.
Sort of like the side mirror on a car, barriers in life may seem bigger than they really are.
Inertia works both ways.
It seemed like I had dug a deep pit for myself. I felt bad in just about every way, and I couldn’t imagine how to overcome those feelings.
Then, I decided to take a step and make a positive move. That one move had ripple effects that influenced every part of my life, and that of my family.
I had expected to spend years creating a better life. In reality, it took me just a few months. One good decision led to another, which led to another — and each positive choice sped me quicker down the road to a healthier life.
On day one, I introduced myself to a group of strangers. After one month, I had the support I needed to invest more in my marriage. Three months in, and we were actively investing in our kids. Six months, and I was committed to a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise.
It’s almost like seeing a big boulder sitting atop a hill, held in place by the tiniest rock. Move that little rock, and the big boulder will come crashing down, faster and faster as it goes.
Call to Action
My challenge to you is to take that one step today.
You might know what it is already. And, it probably doesn’t seem like the payoff will outweigh the risk or effort.
That first step will lead you to another, and then another, and you will suddenly find yourself looking at a completely different person in the mirror.
If you don’t know what your first step is, then take some time right now and write down three things you’d like to change about your life. Then, pick one and make a plan of action.
You can overcome lifestyle inertia, and it’s not as hard as you think.