Every morning on my drive to work I see them. Like determined ghosts in the early light of day, they consistently appear. I note varying ages and body types, but also a shared resolve. Unlike so many voices who lament their weight gain or sluggish energy, these folks are doing something about it. And more importantly, they're doing it consistently.
There's a woman I know who regularly gets up early to go lap swimming. I'm sure she'd rather sleep in. I'll bet the water is brisk. But she swims those laps. She does it for her health, energy and mental clarity. And she does it consistently.
Not that it's a piece of cake. I've struggled with this consistency thing. Because my work day starts early I prefer to exercise after work. My workout usually consists of an evening run with my dog. The next evening consists of weight lifting in my garage gym. Then back to running the next night. But interruptions happen, like city council meetings, social engagements and such. And the dreaded call of the couch. Maybe if couches were made out of bricks we'd spend less time on them? Either way, when I fall off the wagon I lace up those running shoes and dive back in.
The bottom line is that we are what we do. Fit people are fit because they work out regularly. Excellent painters are excellent because they put in the canvas time. Consistently.
Blogger James Clear has written persuasively about the power of changing your habits. His free eBook, Transform Your Habits, contains 45 pages on "how to effortlessly build good habits and break bad ones." A big part of the equation is using helpful cues to get you started. I mention James Clear because his material was helpful to me (I receive nothing for endorsing his free eBook). But whatever tools you use, the point is to create positive, consistent habits to reach your goals.
The main message of this article is two fold. First, if you want to improve your art then you need to swim more laps. In other words, you need to put in the time. Tweaking your website, painting what's safe and not pushing yourself will likely bring the same results you're getting now. But if you devote time daily to practice, study and improve your work, you will see progress.
The second message has to do with exercise itself. Regular exercise seems to improve every aspect of your life. You sleep better, feel better and perform better. I find regular exercise fuels greater creativity, too. I often think about my art and writing while I'm running. Ideas come to me as I'm huffing and puffing down backstreets and parks with my dog.
If you want to improve your a art, swim more laps. Create a routine of consistent practice and consistent exercise. It doesn't matter where you are health wise. For some, it might be a morning walk. For others, it might involve joining CrossFit. Either way, I think you'll be pleased with the results. Don't put it off. Even the smallest changes can bring big dividends. Come up with a routine to devote to your art and exercise, and you'll be well on your way!