Do or do not. There is no try. It’s cliché, and yes, Yoda said it, but if you remember anything I ever tell you, remember that. Better yet, don’t just remember it. Believe it.
In my time as a coach, I have picked up on many behavioral patterns. The most interesting are those that make or break people as they pursue their goals. The pattern I want to discuss today is belief.
Beliefs Are Powerful
Beliefs are extremely powerful and hold the potential to shape outcomes. For example, I believe humans are incredibly capable beings. I believe we all have potential to learn and adapt to just about anything if we put our minds to it. These beliefs shape how I act and how I treat my clients. When you treat people as remarkably capable, they tend to become that, sometimes despite themselves.
In this game called life, our outcomes are largely shaped by what goes on between our ears. The most successful among us are those who have mastered their minds. What we choose to believe is such a vital part of that mastery, but it often starts on an almost imperceptible level. Let me get more specific.
Self-Talk Is Poppycock
We constantly talk to ourselves, often without realizing it. There are a hundred different names for it: self-talk, hidden scripts, inner monologue, etc. Whatever you call it, it happens, and it shapes what you believe, how you act, and what you accomplish.
“I believe we all have potential to learn and adapt to just about anything if we put our minds to it.”
All too often I overhear phrases that start with “I can’t do this…” or “I’m no good at that.” To be fair, sometimes it is 100 percent true. But most of the time it is total poppycock.
Hey! Coach Shawn here. I’ve been meaning to have a serious talk with you. Lately you’ve been missing a lot of practices (I mean A LOT). That’s no good. I mean how do you expect to perform well without practicing? Seriously? I mean, yes, you’re talented and all, but you’re going to make a lot of mistakes if you keep this up…You’ve got a lot of work to catch up on.
What on earth am I talking about?
Practicing and developing good movement patterns, of course. It’s important stuff! Moving well is a skill, that when incorporated into your daily routine can make you feel better, increase athletic performance and help you to avoid a whole truck load of injuries. Unfortunately thinking about and bettering how you move often falls pretty low on the priority list, if it’s even there to begin with.
Lost in the Shuffle
For the vast majority of us, our day begins simply. The alarm goes off. Maybe you hit snooze. Maybe you don’t. Eventually you roll those good ol’ legs of yours to the edge of the bed, plant your feet on the ground and get on with waking up and getting ready for the day. From here, the routine varies from person to person but generally includes things like general hygiene, getting dressed, eating breakfast, taking care of the kids. Maybe you squeeze in a workout before heading out the door, maybe not. After than most of us are off to work, where, unfortunately, a good majority spend eight or more hours sitting down.
What I’m getting at is this: it’s easy to get caught up in the shuffle of life and all its lovely details. What gets lost in this hustle and bustle, though, is a legitimate awareness of the fact that our body is highly adaptable and will adjust to the movements and postures we adopt most.
Think about it. In all honesty how much do you really stop to consider your posture, how your muscles feel, and how you are moving throughout the day?
For many, the results of less daily movement and sitting so much are frightening: lack of ankle mobility (both dorsiflexion and plantar-flexion), weak hips, poor hip flexion and extension, knee problems, back problems, shoulder problems – you name it. A lot of problems can be tracked back to how we have allowed our muscles to adapt, oftentimes beginning all the way back to about first grade when we started sitting a whole lot more.
Do you want to know the secret to becoming a better runner? Become more efficient. That’s it. Overly simplified, yes, but that is it.
An Example of Excellent Running Technique
All that training you are doing develops efficiency in one way or another. For example, those countless hours of training work to better your heart’s stroke volume, teach your body to efficiently metabolize fuel, and adapt the nervous system to fire your muscles in the most effective manner possible. The foundation for improving as a runner revolves around the idea of maximizing efficiency.
Some days you feel like you can climb a mountain, while others, not so much. Sometimes all you want to do is hit that snooze button, roll over, and forget all about your morning workout. We’ve all been there. So what can you do to minimize these motivational slumps? Is there a way to conjure up motivation in moments like that? You betcha! Here are 10 tips next time you find yourself struggling:
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with a friend and caught yourself thinking “man, I really should do that” when the topic shifts to something that is typically guilt-inducing like putting money in your retirement accounts or eating better? Think back to one of those moments with me for a second and tell me this: did you actually end up doing anything with that thought? Did your behavior in that area actually change?
Let’s be Real. Guilt Stinks, Period.
I don’t know about you, but for me, feelings of guilt can become serious mental roadblocks if allowed. Typically I’ll come to that “I really should do X, Y or Z” moment, feel terrible for a second, but then I’ll move on to the next thing. Classical avoidance (ugh – anyone else feel guilty just thinking about it?). I really should take that moment to make a small plan for some behavior change, BUT I hardly ever do…
Sadly, it’s something many of us struggle with.
Here is what is really bad about guilt: you think that it would motivate change. It doesn’t. It inhibits it. It holds us back from accomplishing so many things, health-related or not.
Now, go back to that feeling we pulled up a moment ago. How did it feel? Like another thing on your plate? An extra load to bear so to speak? Maybe even a little bit heavy and defeating? Not a fun feeling to experience when it all boils down, right?
It gets worse. Guilt can lead to some really untrue self-talk like “I could do X, but I’m just too lazy” or “I’m just way too busy” (more on that one in a bit). That self-talk in turn shapes how we view ourself – our self-concept. Often what you think to yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you continually bash yourself, and tell yourself that you’re too lazy to do something you’ll most likely end up being lazy and not doing that thing. Funny how that works, huh!
So how do you take an inhibitory feeling like guilt and turn it in your favor?
1) Sit back and acknowledge the feeling. When you feel guilt (or any emotion for that matter), much like in meditation, try to view the emotion from an outside, and non-judgmental perspective. Say to yourself, “oh man, there it is again, that guilty feeling. No harm in that, but why am I feeling that?” BUT, don’t stop there. Examine it, much the way a scientist would in an experiment. Start asking some more questions.
2) Ask whyuntil you get to the root of the problem. Let’s use an example to bring this one to light. Let’s say you stumble across a delicious looking recipe online and think to yourself, “I really should try to cook more.”
Why haven’t you cooked more already? This is the turning point. You might try to come back with “I’m just too lazy so it never happens” or some other reason, but really ask yourself why.
Oh! What’s that? You bought that “Cooking for Newbies” book and meant to get started by reading it. But why didn’t you get started?
And then it comes to you. You put it in a box when you moved to your new place and now it’s buried and hard to get to. Got it!
3) Write it down. Once you are here, at this point of realization, just write it down. Just in the small action of writing it down you are more likely to take action and change your behavior.
**Side note: now, I know, if you’re in the middle of a conversation with a friend these first three steps can be more difficult. If you catch yourself in that situation, try to make a good mental note for later, or go out on a limb and mention it to your friend. He could be a good sounding board for the whole process. And then it would be totally less weird to just whip out a pen and paper and start writing something down in the middle of conversation.**
4) Come back later. This one will seem a little counterintuitive, but once you have sifted through all the whys and written some things down, set it aside and come back to it. While I wish it weren’t the case, we have a very finite amount of willpower and mental energy that we need to manage wisely. Just getting yourself through the process of slowing down and asking yourself the hard why question is enough for starters.
5) Make it manageable. While it might not seem like much, when you come back to your note ready for action, take a few seconds to break it down. Keep cutting the initial task “in half” until the first step is small enough to be super actionable. Even simpler examples like the cooking book in the buried box can become much more actionable just by breaking it into small pieces such as:
What first? Okay – walk to the basement where all the leftover moving boxes are stored.
Next – Move the boxes in front of and on top of the “extra books” box without making a huge mess. I’ll organize the moved boxes into two piles so it stays tidy.
Then – Get your book out of the buried box.
Finally – Put stuff back and start reading.
It’s a simple example, but you get the point. If an action seems overwhelming it’s very easy to dismiss that task and tuck away that overwhelming feeling for later. Then, when something triggers some guilt later, we have some misattribution of emotion going on because not only do we feel bad about not doing whatever it is we “should” be doing, but we also have these underlying feelings of being overwhelmed by the task that creep back into our consciousness, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Getting to your book under that HUGE pile of boxes feels like a much bigger and heavier task to our limited will-power if we don’t break it down, so often times we just skip it and move on.
6) Get out of your own way. Finally, don’t be your worst enemy. Too often we get in our own ways, often without realizing it. Much like packing your gym clothes the night before so you can just get up and go in the morning, try and have the book readily accessible and visible so you have lots of visual reminders through the day. But don’t stop there, make the choice to make time for it in your day. Write it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.
7) Establish an abundance mindset. This is a small mental technique that can make life a whole lot more easier and fun. Let’s use dieting as an example. A scarcity mindset would be what you find for those who are on strict diets with no cheat days. They are always thinking “I can’t have deep fried chocolate covered bacon for a long, LONG time” and they will probably be counting the days for the diet to be over.Scarcity mindsets shift our focus to the negative which is a hard place to stay and achieve success.
The abundance mindset flips that on its head. An example of achieving an abundant mindset is establishing 1-2 cheat or “re-feed” days in your diet plan in which you are allowed to have whatever food(s) you swore off of for the majority of the diet. Instead of thinking about what you can’t have and counting the days until the diet is over so you can eat your bacon, you will be looking forward to that 1-2 days each week where you can splurge a little bit. Your focus will stay in the positive and more importantly, the whole behavior change will become much more manageable and sustainable. Winning!
One last thing…
Okay, last thing that goes back to a couple things I’ve said along the way so far. I want you to remember something, my friends:
Being busy is a choice.
It is so common to be “crazy busy” and be proud of it. Busyness, believe it or not, is not a virtue regardless of how much our culture wants you to think so. Entertain me for a minute. If you find yourself using the line “I’m just too busy to do X.” please do me the favor of stopping for a second and rewording it to be “I’m choosing to not make X a priority and am making other tasks or people a priority in it’s place.” That’s the utter reality. Changing our language reminds us that how we use our time is ultimately a choice. We often make time for what we want to make time for, just like we tend to have money for the things we like to spend money on. In the vast majority of cases it’s a choice. You have say in what happens in your life – take ownership of it and be awesome.
Carry on my friends. And remember:
Don’t Go it Alone
Want help overcoming the mental roadblocks keeping you from reaching your goals? Contact us today to partner with a coach and get started down the path to becoming awesome.