I was reading LIFT-RUN-BANG today and he had a great post on the influx of new people at the gym after the new year and their general inability to stay with it for more than a few days to a few weeks. An excerpt of his post:
So we’re coming up on the new years, and of course lots of people will be flooding the gyms (not mine!) and taking up space doing stupid shit, and bragging about how this will be the year they go from fat/skinny/weak/out of shape whatevers to Thor/Hulk/Batman/Fitness model…….and then day 2 of working out rolls around and they start making excuses.
This is one reason why I tell people that motivation is bullshit. Basically my premise is, you need to just make getting better a part of what you are regardless of external stimulus (posters, little sayings and mottos, etc).
The issue, as I’ve always said, is that motivation sucks for keeping you on point. Mainly, positive and negative versions. Positive motivation from an external resource will often lose its luster, or will wane in power. When that happens, people lose focus. That’s because they are being driven by something external. It’s no different than that toy you got as a kid, that was the most awesome fucking toy EVER…..until about day 9 when you barely notice it anymore. That’s human nature. Things lose their luster as we become accustomed to them.
He had a few other interesting things in there as well, such as the differences in motivation between men and women and some interesting tactics for keeping things on point.
My own exercise routine is so ingrained into my daily actions after nearly 10 years of 4-5 days a week of working out in some fashion, that if I don’t work out for more than a few days in a row something is wrong (traveling, injured, sick). But it took a long time for this to become a habit and there are still days I don’t feel like working out. What do I do those days when motivation is lacking? I go anyway. Maybe I’m not running as fast, or lifting my full repertoire or doing the full workout, but I’m go. And I almost always feel better than if I didn’t. From THIS article, habits take awhile to form:
Although the average was 66 days, there was marked variation in how long habits took to form, anywhere from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study. As you’d imagine, drinking a daily glass of water became automatic very quickly but doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast required more dedication (above, dotted lines). The researchers also noted that:
- Missing a single day did not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
- A sub-group took much longer than the others to form their habits, perhaps suggesting some people are ‘habit-resistant’.
- Other types of habits may well take much longer.
So whether a better self means getting off the internet more, getting into shape and dropping weight, learning to be more like the Captain in your marriage, more alpha in your dealings with your wife, whatever… recognize that it will take a while to build a habit, there will be set-backs and that first couple months will be a grind. Pretty soon though, your mind will accept what you are trying to make it do and will accept it as part of your ritual. So start the wheels in motion for the calendar to flip…you control who you are and who you’ll be. Start to set up your success now.