Low-bar or High-bar?

Today is not a high-bar day. That’s okay. I already know that not every day turns out to be a day of noticeable deeds. Some days are destined to be noteworthy only for small accomplishments. Sometimes at the end of a day like this I congratulate myself not only on small tasks performed, but also on things fortunately avoided. It looks like today is going to be like that. It may be that at the end of this next twelve hours I will congratulate myself on not succumbing to insomnia. That would be an achievement on this kind of day.

Taking pride in managing to sleep in my bed definitely counts as a low-bar day accomplishment.  I look for ways to applaud myself. I bask in tiny efforts.

Everyday cannot be a high-bar day.  I stand ready to compliment myself on getting over the low-bar of daily living. Some days I am thrilled to have made it to the metaphorical track.

Last night, I laid out running clothes on my chair. My running shoes were resting in the dining room angled to trip me on my way to the coffee in the morning. Charged up phone with playlist prepared. Earphones ready. Sunglasses cleaned and lying on top of the stack of mail. I had my plan for action. I was ready to attempt the high-bar.

I stumbled from bed and donned my running clothes. Good plan so far. I was ready to tackle the high expectation of running. I was ready to head out the door. Push myself harder, faster and further. Get my heart pounding.

But then, I just didn’t.

I did not run.

I did not exercise.

Instead I just wore my running clothes. Most days, just wearing the clothes is enough to motivate me through the door. It’s like getting dressed for a party you don’t want to attend. Once you are already dressed, you may as well go out. Theoretically it makes sense. In real life, it is sometimes a bust.

At 3pm I took a shower and got dressed in real clothes. I washed and dried my hair. I put on make-up. I picked out earrings. I was clean.

Then I went back to just being in the house.

On low-bar days, being showered is a big accomplishment.

I say, “I may not have gone for a run, but at least I am clean.”

I say, “I may have eaten the leftover pizza, but at least I left the cookies.”

It is all a matter of perspective.

There is not always a clear reason for these days.

I could go running. Nothing in particular is hurt or injured. I could just get on the stationary bike instead. But it is just not that kind of a day. Sometimes these days string together and become low-bar weeks.

Weeks where I reach the end of a series of days and say, “I did not talk to people but I did talk to my cat. I did not do my research but I did fold laundry. I did not get over the high-bar but at least I saw it from afar.”

Being critical does not make the high-bar any more reachable. Mean self-talk makes you more likely to miss the low bar as well.

I did not go for a run, and maybe I watched too much Netflix, but I am up and moving.

I fed the cat. I sat at the computer. I talked to my sister.

I congratulate myself on small accomplishments.

Low-bar days require self-acceptance and understanding.

These days have been here before. No doubt they will arrive again.

Not everyone has low-bar days. But if you wake up with big plans and finish your day with infinitesimally small accomplishments, just remember:

Going over the low-bar is not a failure.

It is after all on the same metaphorical track as tomorrow’s high bar.

That’s okay.


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