A lot of the talk in the self improvement is about getting out there and doing work. The reason of which should be fairly obvious. Doing the work is the simplest advice that you can give. It’s a formula that has worked for all time. Go out and do the work, then see the results.
The problem is that most of us get caught up in little distractions before we get started. This is most commonly called resistance. It’s incredible to me how simple a concept this is, and yet people still struggle massively with it. I think that one of the biggest reasons that people struggle is that they don’t have any purpose to what they are doing.
It’s almost like your subconscious is stopping you from doing work because without a purpose, there isn’t really a point. If you are just doing work to work, you’ll burn out pretty quickly. This is what I have learned from my 9-5 job. I had no end goal, no chance of advancement in the company, and wasn’t getting any raises. There was no point to keep working somewhere where retirement wasn’t a possibility. I either maintained the status quo and got a paycheck, or quit and tried to do something different even if it meant being without money for a while.
I started to see examples of this in other areas of my life and I think there’s an important lesson here.
Training with a purpose
After leaving high school, I didn’t lift weights that often. I had no purpose really as I wasn’t competing in any kind of sport. Every now and then I would hit up my college’s weight room and do some lifting between classes, but it wasn’t anything substantial. I didn’t have any schedule or routine to what I was doing.
About a year after graduation I grew tired of driving back to campus to get my irregular lifting in and decided to sign up for a local gym that was much closer. This led to actually going more often and being more consistent. However, I still didn’t have any type of system to what I was doing in there. It wasn’t until I started playing softball that I got serious.
After a couple seasons of playing softball and making it either deep in the playoffs or the championship, we would always lose. I started to get really pissed off. I decided that since I was already half heartedly going to the gym, I would amp it up and try and gain as much strength as possible. The reason I did this was that I wanted to be able to hit the ball harder in order to play better.
This led to the biggest gains I’ve ever had in the gym. I got really strong and started bombing the ball. I actually hit a home run if you can believe it. The reason this was possible was because I’m not the biggest guy out there, but my power was so elevated that I hit the ball over the outfielders heads. This would never have been possible had I never defined a purpose for working out: to get stronger for softball.
A similar thing has happened recently where this principle is glaringly obvious. A number of my friends started an email chain that quickly turned into shit talk with each other. In the emails we talked about having a thanksgiving day football game. A draft quickly happened and the teams were set. It was at this point that I knew I was going to start running routes every day in order to get in shape for the game.
This same idea has taken hold with a number of my friends as well. I have heard reports that they have started to work out as well. Most of them haven’t worked out in a long time and all it took to want to get back in shape was the spark of not wanting to be humiliated in a football game.
Sonny from Strength by Sonny recently covered this exact topic in his physical transformation guide for 2014. In his article he talks about how he gets ready for his vacation every year by training hard. “Competitors must have a purpose. We must have some thing or some distant goal driving us. Otherwise what is the point of sacrifice?” I agree with him 100%.
Blogging with a purpose
I have had this blog for over a year now, and for a majority of that time I wanted to work on it and do good work, but because of a lack of purpose, I failed. I had no end goal in mind or any specific reason to be doing anything.
I decided I needed a kick in the ass and I decided to commit to something for the blog. I dedicated the month of September to doing 30 Days of Discipline.
I had the idea in the back of my head that if I just committed to something for a short enough amount of time, that I’d be able to see it through to the end.
The results were pretty astonishing. After committing to the program, I completed more work in a month than the previous year.
Some other bloggers I follow have done similar things. Mike from Danger and Play committed to 10 months of publishing great content every day. That’s a really tall order, but he managed to do it. The results were his traffic exploded. Similarly, Robert from 30 Days to X committed to doubling his traffic for the month of September. He did this by publishing a great post every day. The results speak for themselves. See a pattern here?
Committing causes action
If you commit to something, it causes you to take action lest you be exposed as a liar to yourself. No one likes to fail, but braking a commitment to ourself hurts even worse.
If you commit to something reasonable and attainable, you will see better results in the beginning. If you truly don’t believe that something is possible, your mind will find a way to sabotage yourself into failing. Your mind knows whether something is possible or not. The more small wins you bank, the more your mind will believe. This will cause you to have bigger and bigger wins.
Ways to commit to something
There’s a reason that challenges are so popular on the internet. It’s also the reason that you can get people to do something by betting them they can’t do it. It’s that people lack the raw will and determination to do stuff just to get it done most of the time. Give that person a reason to do it though, and magically stuff gets done.
It’s much easier for the mind to muster the will to do stuff if it believes it’s being challenged. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t want to look like a pussy to yourself would you?
Give yourself a challenge and see the power of this.
If you are looking for a challenge to take part in, try 30 Days of Discipline. It’s a real kick in the ass and will get you working hard.
Have any good results from challenging yourself? Let me know below in the comments.
Like my post? Follow me on Twitter.