No Effort, No Results


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

A little over a year ago my mom had major back surgery.  Over the years her spine had become so twisted that it was squishing her internal organs in a way that was extremely uncomfortable, and would only get worse.  Titanium rods were attached to her spine using large screws in hopes that it would force her spine to be straightened, improve her posture, and resolve some breathing and pain issues she had been dealing with for years.  She is in her mid to late 60’s and the doctors advised that if she was going to have surgery the time was now, as she is in good heath and had a good chance of fully recovering. After much deliberation, as well as talking to other patients (names and numbers given by permission by the hospital) who had gone through the same procedure, she decided to proceed.

Since returning home from surgery, she has done everything the doctors have told her to do. Walking, specific exercises and stretching have become a part of her daily routine. She does have some back pain, which the doctors say may eventually subside, or she may have it for the rest of her life. But, the surgery has been a resounding success, as my mom can now breathe freely again, and does not have all the difficulties associated with a twisted and curved spine.

Recently she decided to call one of the patients she had talked to prior to surgery to see how she was doing. This particular patient had recommended my mother do the procedure, as at the time she was doing spectacular. The story has changed, unfortunately.  The former patient was now in a lot of pain, and was in fact waiting for a call from her doctor for a new pain medication when my mother called. She told my mom that she was in constant pain, but wasn’t all that surprised because she hadn’t been doing her stretching and exercises as the doctors have indicated she needs to do every day. She went on to tell my mom that she’d love to garden again, but she’ll likely have to give that up forever.

Think about that for a moment, she would rather give up her dream of gardening than put in the effort to do the things that would allow her to do so.

This revelation stunned me, until I realized I handled my finances in the exact same way for years. I knew that to get out of debt I would have to communicate with my wife about finances and reduce our spending. But for a long time I gave up on making our lives better for the long run. I wasn’t willing to put in the effort because I viewed it as just too hard.

Not until we were forced did we do anything about our debt.

If you think about it, we are all in the exact kind of situation in countless areas of our lives. Do you want to get in shape and lose weight? Do you want to get out of debt, or save for the future? Do you want to learn another language, get a better job, or be a better parent? They take one simple thing: Effort.

The woman my mother talked to, at least for the moment, would rather give up her dream than put in the effort. I thought that sounded ridiculous. But if you listen to the excuses we make every day for not accomplishing our goals and dreams, they probably sound just as ridiculous.

What are you sacrificing right now because you’re not willing to put in the effort? What are you going to do about it?

About Travis

20 Responses to “No Effort, No Results”

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  1. Glad to hear that your Mom is doing better Travis! My Mom had a very similar, from how it sounds, surgery about 15 years ago where she had rods put in her back and it required a ton of work afterwards to make sure it was a success overall. That said, I could not agree more, so much of it comes down to effort. I know we all likely have things we want but are simply not willing or not wanting to put in the effort to get. The crazy thing is that so often we go on to believe that it’s not possible. All it takes is some determination and effort. That’s not to say that it won’t be difficult, but it’s certainly possible.

    • Travis says:

      Exactly, John….there certainly ARE things that maybe aren’t worth the effort. For instance, I’m sure I could learn exactly how a computer processor worked if I put in the effort….but what would I gain from that? It just struck me as odd that someone would give up something they had enjoyed all their lives just because they didn’t want to do some exercises!

  2. I’ve been slacking in the exercise department. Back on the wheel tonight. One of the things I talk to my children about all the time be consistent with you effort, in anything you do school, sports, work etc.

    • Travis says:

      Consistency is key, Brian – exercise and finances are prime examples of that. I’ve worked out 5-7 days a week for about 4 years now. At this point, I don’t want to stop simply because I know what kind of time and effort I’ve put in over the years to get to this point. I want to think about my finances in the same way…..we’ve spent 4.5 years digging ourselves out of debt – we don’t want to end up back there again!

  3. I would say there are a few areas of my life this is relevant to. The first being working out. I really got my butt in gear the last year of college and lost all the weight I had gained when I was a freshman (weight I had kept on throughout college). Recently I have started to make working out – particularly lifting – a bigger priority. I’m really starting to see results and it’s encouraging to know that if I simply sacrifice and put in the effort that I can improve.

    • Travis says:

      Life really is all about priorities, you’ll never hear me say the phrase “I don’t have time to do that.” The real answer is, “It’s not a priority.” If something is THAT important, I will make the time, and cut something else out of my day. Nice work on losing that extra weight, DC!

  4. First, I’m glad that you’re mother’s surgery went well and she is recovering nicely! And second – like you I was stunned that she wouldn’t simply do the exercises that could allow her to continue to garden. But you are 100% right, plenty of people, myself included, do make excuses that keep us from doing or have what we want. We aren’t willing to do the work because it seems too hard, etc. This is great motivation for me (and I hope your Mom too) to take a look at what I’m making excuses for and start putting for the effort to get the results I want.

    • Travis says:

      Just to be clear, Shannon, it’s not my mom who is giving up gardening – it’s another former patient that she was talking to. My mom has made the stretching and exercising a daily priority and is doing so well because of it. No excuses….just make it happen – thanks for stopping by!

  5. So very true!! For me I’d like to produce some more videos that are with my interests in mind, but my “excuse” is that my main job suck the life out of the joy of making videos, so I keep putting it off. But it’s not going to get done itself and I know when Im dong I’d be happy I did it.

    • Travis says:

      Ooooh, you brought another thought to my head…if we KNOW that doing something would improve our lives and make us happy….why don’t we do it? Afraid of failure? too hard? Anything worth doing is worth trying over and over until you are successful! thanks for your comment, Tonya!

  6. Talking about doing things is just not effective. Actually going out there and doing things is what is going to make you happy. Nothing was ever accomplished by just chatting. The same is true for finances.

  7. LOVE this, Travis. We have people in our lives that do this with money. They are dead broke, have been for decades.. They make more money and have half the house payment that we do, and yet, they are always “Woe is me”ing about their financial situation. It’s frustrating. It’s not easy to put in the effort to change a situation, whatever that situation is, but then, don’t be surprised if the situation does not change when you’re not willing to put in the effort! Like you, we did this with our money for years. We waited for the lotto, or some kind of other windfall or raise to “hook us up”, but it never happened. Now, it’s happening because we are putting in the effort.

    • Travis says:

      Looking back at our times of financial struggle, we were waiting for the next salary increase to make things better…we were waiting for an event to happen TO us. What we really needed was to make it happen ourselves! Make an effort!!!

  8. POWERFUL post. It’s so sad to see people I love do the same thiing everyday – give up their dreams for staying comfortable. Unfortunately, I’m sure I make the same excuses as well.

  9. Michelle says:

    I’m glad that she is doing better! That is great to hear. Once again, being consistent seems to be key. Even though I fall off the wagon, I try to get back on with shorter gaps in between falls.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks Michelle – she’s relentless in doing what she needs to do to recover fully. Just as in anything, there will be setbacks, but like you said, we have to keep trying and never give up. I actually think that the conversation with the former patient motivated her even more – she doesn’t want to end up in the situation where she has to give up some of the things she loves doing in life. Thanks for reading!

  10. debt debs says:

    My husband had two titanium rods put in his back about 7 years ago too. Glad your Mom had it done and hopefully this is a good reminder to keep up her exercises after talking to that other woman. I suffer from lower back disc degeneration and I slack off too with my core strength exercises which keeps it at bay. Thanks for the reminder.

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