We are rounding the last corner before the finish line on our annual February challenge. This year, my wrist has not bothered me, and I was able to get down to business on my kettlebells. In fact, I was able to crank out my final 40 while on video-chat with my Mom last night. 10,000 Kettlebells are in the history book! It was great to have her in the “crowd” as I crossed the finish line. I’m not sure how many times that has actually happened, come to think of it! It was nice to have some company.

As February winds down, though, it occurrs to me that I don’t want to erratically follow some yo-yo kind of activity program; what I really want is to more or less stay in the active zone. Without being extreme, either. Just… active. That brought to mind the idea of maintenance. And that, of course, brought me back to the realm of words.

If you research the history of the word maintain, you will see that it comes from the Latin manu tenere – “to hold in the hand”. And before English got ahold of it, Old French had a go with maintenir. Essentially, that also meant… “to hold in the hand”. If you think about holding something in your hand – not just for a moment, but continuously – you will have a richer sense of what it means to maintain something.

And that is what I have been thinking about these days. If we mobilize ourselves to do something worthwhile, how do we maintain that forward progress? I am certainly not here to prescribe some magical formula for you. As much as I can encourage you, you are basically on your own when it comes to how you will maintain any progress you have achieved this month.

At the risk of giving advice, here is my advice:

1. Be aware of your choice – we choose the degree to which we maintain (or hold onto) wellness gains. Think about it:  how likely are we to “accidentally” keep up our efforts. Things in the natural world move away from organization toward chaos; we must actively exert an effort to reverse that trend because if we don’t, we naturally move toward randomness and chaos.

2. Set worthy goals – even if we don’t reach the goals we set, we generally end up somewhere in the ballpark of those goals. Put some quality thought into what you aim yourself toward.

3. Develop an Inner Circle – we all need some key encouragers who know us well enough not to be overly-impressed by our smokescreens, yet who are still on our side, in our corner, behind us all the way… pick your cliché. These folks are not our adoring “fans”, but rather our butt-kickers (well, as needed, and apologies to my mom for that comment. She raised me better than that).

Three points are enough. You know what you need to do.