A lot of personal development advice seems to revolve around the concept of improving areas of your life that are completely messed up. If you are incredibly disorganized, stressed out, and unhealthy then it makes sense to try to improve these areas.
However, focusing solely on those trouble spots ignores what I think has the greatest potential for amazing progress.
When you’ve started improving those trouble spots in your life, how do you act? If you’re anything like me, chances are you begin to backslide.
I’m in the middle of a training program in preparation for a half-marathon race. I’ve been sticking to the program very well for the past couple weeks and everything is progressing nicely. Instead of redoubling my efforts and staying focused, I realized that I’m letting a very dangerous mindset take over.
Where’s That Killer Instinct?
Let me know if this sounds familiar, “I’ve been running a lot this week so it doesn’t really matter if I eat ice cream for the third day in a row.” Or this: “I’ve been so productive at work recently it doesn’t matter if I let my organizational system fall apart.”
I’m sure you have an area in your own life where you’ve made impressive improvement and, as a consequence, have let something else slide.
My own realization came as I tried to run a 5K training run this morning. This is one of the shortest runs I do and it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. My running has been going well so I decided to run this distance much faster than I have in the past. That all makes sense, except for the fact that I drank a Coke and ate two doughnuts for breakfast while not drinking any water. In my mind, I figured that since the distance was short and I had been doing so well with longer runs, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t taken care of myself properly.
I was wrong.
The Difference Between Pretty Good and World Class
What sets world-class athletes, CEO’s of huge companies, the best teacher in your school or the most productive person apart from us “mere mortals” is how they approach success. Success is not something they attain once and then lock up in a closet. Success is a never-ending journey that is constantly evolving and growing as they evolve and grow.
If you’ve found yourself stuck on one speed or even regressing in some aspect of your life that is important to you, try one of these tips:
- Change something, anything, up: Maybe you are beginning to slack because you are bored. You’ve mastered the basics and now it’s time to try something new. Learn some new techniques, change up your training schedule, or find something new and exciting to explore. Much of the time changing things up is exactly what you need to continue your forward progress.
- Revisit your goals: If your reasons for doing something have become hazy it’s easy to lose the focus you need to do it well. Clarify, in writing, why you are trying to improve some area of your life. Seeing it in front of you in physical form challenges you to take it seriously. Maybe your motivation has changed since starting your endeavor and the real reason you’re stuck in neutral is because it no longer resonates with you. Either way, you have to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- 30 Day Challenge yourself where you are slacking: As I’ve improved my running I’ve let my nutrition slack off. It has been easy to justify eating whatever I want when I’m burning so many calories. However, that is not the mindset I want to have if I’m trying to become a much more fit person. Doing a 30 Day Challenge of not eating fast food or eating as cleanly as possible will be a good way to realign my actions with my motivation.
When everything is going well is the time to redouble your efforts and truly do something awesome. Most people settle for average, for mediocrity. You’ve already got the momentum behind you, why not keep it going and really challenge yourself to do more, be more, and live more?
Photo by AdamSelwood