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The Wedge of Discouragement

by Tom Venuto - author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle

One day the devil was having a sale, hawking his many diabolical tools of the trade. On display, with their price tags attached, were all the devil's tools and weapons: the arrows of jealousy, the hammer of anger, the dagger of worry, the slingshot of doubt, the axe of hatred and numerous others.Splitting with a wedge

But one tool stood out above them all. Displayed prominently on a pedestal high above the rest of his wares was showcased, "The Wedge of Discouragement."

Intrigued by this little tool, which was dented and worn with use, a curious shopper inquired about the high price, because the wedge cost more than all the other tools combined.

"Ah yes," said the devil, "THAT is my favorite tool of all. You see, it's so easy to use. It hardly takes any effort. All I have to do is get the very tip of the wedge into my victim and the rest is easy. Once the wedge is in, I just tap it ever so slightly and it slides in deeper and deeper.

"Sometimes I don't have to do anything - my victims push the wedge in deeper all by themselves! A small opening soon becomes a gaping crack, making room for the rest of my tools. Before you know it, my wedge has completely split a person's dreams, hopes and aspirations in two."

"That's why the wedge of discouragement commands such a high price - because it's my most effective tool. It has opened more doors for me than all my other tools combined."

The moral of this story is obvious and so true, isn't it? The smallest bit of discouragement can split your dreams apart - IF you let it.

Taking the first step toward a fitness, bodybuilding or weight loss goal is seldom spontaneous. I know people who thought about competing in bodybuilding or fitness for YEARS before they mustered up the courage to set the goal and start the training (let alone stand onstage in a "teeny bikini!") Many people spend months "thinking about it" before they finally join a gym and get started.

So much planning, thought, time and effort go into overcoming inertia and getting the ball rolling... and what happens? You hit ONE rough patch (you always do), and you allow the wedge the tiny opening it needs. You stray from your diet, miss some workouts, sustain an injury, or more often than any other reason; you simply don't see results fast enough. One little setback or challenge and you let yourself become hopelessly discouraged.

It's a pity how easily most people are discouraged, because reaching your goals will occur with mathematical certainty if you consistently follow proven principles and natural laws. Too many people get discouraged or quit before they allow the required gestation period to elapse.

If you planted a tree in your backyard, you would know for certain it would grow, as long as you provided the necessary conditions. If you planted it in good soil, nurtured it, and provided it with water and sunlight, your seed would sprout and grow towards the sky as sure as the night follows the day.

Goals are like seeds and they require time to take root and sprout. Getting discouraged just because you have a setback or you don't see your body transform "overnight" is silly. It's denying nature's immutable laws. Becoming negative or quitting because you don't see results fast enough is like digging up your seeds to see if they're growing down there (killing them in the process).

If you're nurturing your "goal seeds," OF COURSE they're growing! Have you ever watched the grass grow in your backyard? You don't actually SEE each blade getting taller, but you KNOW it's growing because every week you have to mow your lawn! Sometimes getting in shape is like watching the grass grow - it really tests your patience. Don't EVER allow that to discourage you! Keep advancing confidently in the direction of your goals.

It's ok to have BIG, magnificent goals, but allow a reasonable time frame for achieving them. Shun the quick fix and cultivate the virtue of patience. Impatience leads to frustration. Frustration leads to discouragement. Discouragement, allowed to fester and grow, is the dream destroyer.

When discouragement strikes - and it will, right along with its brethren, doubt and fear - see it as an opportunity to get stronger. All progress and growth occur against resistance. The lumberjack says, "The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees, good timber does not grow with ease." Just as muscles grow against resistance, the strength of your will also grows when exercised against resistance. You can't become a strong person unless you experience setbacks, challenges and discouragement and overcome them. Life's challenges were meant to be met head on and mastered.

It's been said that when God wants to give you a gift, he wraps in up in a problem. Your current problem, difficulty, or whatever is making you feel discouraged, is your great opportunity! Each time you feel discouraged and press on in spite of it, you get tougher. Your skin gets thicker as if a callous were forming. Eventually, you forge an impenetrable armor against the onslaught of discouragement's wedge and all the other tools that destroy the dreams of weaker men and women. You gain the faith and confidence to look in the mirror and KNOW you'll reach your goal eventually, even though you don't see dramatic changes on a day to day basis.

With the new year before us, I want you to make a commitment today, right NOW: Set goals for 2003, but don't stop there. Set "a goal for your goals": Decide that you will see your goals through to completion, no matter what slings and arrows (and wedges) come your way. Decide that you will never give up when you feel discouraged, but instead, you will see discouragement as your signal to dig in and work even harder. Decide that you will conquer discouragement, and in so doing, become more resolved, more determined, and stronger than ever. Make the commitment today! Make 2003 your best year ever!

"To be undiscouraged and undismayed by whatever turn of fortune is encountered is always a mark of maturity and enlightenment."

- U.S. Anderson

This article originally appeared in the December 2002 issue of Tom Venuto's Bodybuilding and Fitness Secrets (BFS) Newsletter. If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive others like it for free every month, you can subscribe to BFS here: http://www.fitren.com/listserv.cfm

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Author Tom Venuto

Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book, click here.

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