Behaviors are greater indicators for success than the specific actions one takes. Here are some outstanding points we agreed are a good start. And frankly, these things can apply in many facets of our lives—relationships, at work, and of course, in the gym.
1. Understanding how you operate in this moment.
There are many “success” strategies out there that pinpoint what successful people do on a daily basis to increase their daily productivity or results. This can be writing their itinerary the night before, reading a chapter in a book before heading in to work, or making their bed.
What these “self-help” ideas are missing is simply, asking ourselves, “How am I right now?”
What if simply the action of writing your itinerary the night before is a monumental task? Or you haven’t picked up a book in over a year? Or even laying your clothes out the night before? How do we build successes here?
Maybe we simply need to make a decision—less thought, and more action. Any action. Maybe we’re impulsive and we need to make the decision making process longer! By knowing how we are in this moment—not who we think we are as people— we can develop our strategies.
2. Choosing small successes.
The size of a “win” is determined by whoever needs to make them. For one person, making sure to weigh their food, or hit all their reps, is a “small” success. But for another, simply choosing a granola bar over a Snickers’ bar is a small success. Successes don’t need comparisons—they need action. It’s a snowball effect, really.
If we know we have a habit of eating McDonald’s on the way to work, and we need to cut this down, do we choose a banana for breakfast instead? How do we improve the likelihood of actually eating that banana before leaving the house?
3. Making available successes more convenient.
Make sure the banana is in your kitchen. Sounds simple enough. But what if we simply aren’t accomplishing this? What if we’re already in the habit of driving somewhere on the way to work for breakfast? We’re already driving to McDonald’s, so why not drive to the Wawa, or the Sheetz on the way to work instead and grab that banana?
But, maybe the McDonald’s is more convenient and we simply cannot make ourselves avoid going somewhere in the morning for breakfast? It’s part of our routine. It never goes away. It’s like, we wake up, turn the coffee maker on, we shower. It is always in this order and never stops. So what if…
4. Making vices or success inhibitors more inconvenient.
What if we can drive a slightly different route to work—an equivalent distance and time—but it avoids the McDonald’s and makes a Sheetz more convenient? This is a valid strategy. Again, we should remind ourselves that this is what is necessary for our success—not dwelling on the fact that “I should be able avoid getting McDonald’s.” Well, we’re not avoiding it. So let’s find another way to make it inconvenient. Prime example:
Sometimes I can spend over my budget. I know if I can swipe my card, it makes spending significantly more convenient, and saving more inconvenient. So I have a savings account in a bank I don’t have access to unless I actively drive there to withdraw money. That’s immensely inconvenient. Not only that, but I have an automatic withdrawal from another account deposit money to it so that depositing to it is convenient, and withdrawing from it is inconvenient.
I’ve successfully saved money this way.
Things don't just show up to our lives for the better. I hit the jackpot with my wife, but I'm no millionaire, so there's that.
We can’t make changes if we don’t prioritize actually making these changes. At the end of the day, we can make little decisions that turn into big decisions, but it does take guts and sticking to our guns.
Some people are “sprinters” and some move slower. Sprinters need to understand their limitations and work within their means. If they know they have a short burst of success, and a lull period of relaxation, embrace it without fault. Repeat it often enough and avoid burnout.
Other people are more methodical, albeit less likely to “sprint”—these people may need to never pull off the throttle because they run at an easy, measurable pace. These people should probably avoid “sprinting” because it’s simply too much stimulation and doesn’t align with their personalities.
Knowing these things about ourselves and taking action in successful ways, both convenient and inconvenient, leads us to:
6. Habitually reevaluating our “current standing.”
We all evolve. We actively change, often. The person we were when we first got married is not the person we are 10 years in. If we used to get flowers for the missus more often at the beginning, and we haven’t lately, we should focus on what strategy we take to improve likelihood of bringing flowers home. Find a way to make it actionable again—grab them while grocery shopping, pass the flower shop on the way home instead of the McDonald’s.
Because we frequently change, our evaluation of our “current standing” allows us to also change our strategies. Over the course of a few weeks, or months, or years of practicing these skills, we can pick ourselves up out of any lull period or derailment simply because we have a toolbox full of strategies.
We should always focus on the wins and not bog down on the “failures.”
Because what are failures? I didn’t save this month, so I’m categorically a failure? I didn’t eat “clean” all week, so I’m a failure?
Absolutely not. It’s simply, “The thing I’m currently doing has not been as successful as I’d like, so let’s try this other thing to increase the likelihood of my success.”
The things we intermittently do that lead us astray do not mean this is who we are. It means we can be better, always.