Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. What are the two? There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to selfmortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana. —Gautama Buddha
When you set firm resolutions to improve yourself, you might be tempted to push your limits well outside of what you’re capable of doing. Ambitiousness is a virtue, but there’s danger involved in going from one extreme to another.
If you’re currently struggling to be productive, don’t force yourself to work sixteen hours a day.
If you’re struggling to control your appetite, don’t impose a week-long fast.
If you can’t find it in you to choose the stairs over the elevator, don’t expect that you’ll maintain a workout plan that requires you to work out every single day.
Find the middle path, stick to it for at least several weeks, and then, based on the results you get,decide whether you can further stretch your limits or require more time before advancing.
As much as I believe in pushing your boundaries and exploring the extremes, you don’t need to put yourself through mortification to achieve good results. Subjecting yourself to extreme hardships has some merits, but over the long term it’s unsustainable, if not downright dangerous.
Remember that there should be moderation in all things, including moderation itself. Sometimes a more extreme approach is needed for a short period of time, and sometimes it’s beneficial to set your goals lower.