Scott Klasen, MS, CSCS, Co-Owner, Peak Performance Training
So I had this plan. My plan was to switch from a bi-monthly newsletter to a quarterly newsletter, and in its place start writing blog posts a few times per month. Seemed easy enough. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew how I was going to do it. I even knew why I wanted to do it and I still failed anyway.
It should be said that I am not a big fan of marketing. Maybe a better way to state this is, I don’t like doing marketing. It’s not where my talents lie and I’m just not very good at it. I’ve read books and even understand many of the concepts but still struggle to put them into practice.
Given the choice, I would much rather be coaching a client and formulating a plan to get him/her to their goals than spending time developing an email campaign designed to get you to use our services. Maybe not the best recipe for business success, but it is what it is. I love doing the former and find the latter boring and time consuming at best.
Now back to my plan. I thought the best way to get in the habit of writing blog posts was to just do it. I figured if I did it everyday for 28 days it would then become a habit. On May 1st of this year I did write my first blog post as it just happened to coincide with the Community 28-Day Challenge we were running at the time.
If you’re not familiar with the Challenge I’m referring to, the idea was that I was going post daily updates of everything that I ate and drank, any exercise I did, along with a bunch of tips to help someone complete our popular 28-Day Challenge program.
For those of you who actually followed along with me this past May, you’re probably thinking – you did post everyday for 28 straight days so what’s the problem? The problem was, May 28th was my last post… until today that is. Yes, not one blog post, Facebook post, article, or email. Nothing. Nothing at all for almost 6 months.
Looking back, going from one email newsletter every other month to blogging every day was too much. I simply bit off more than I could chew. Here’s the thing, after couple of weeks I actually started to have fun with it and dare I say – even start to enjoy it.
However, in order to get it done, my lifestyle had to undergo some changes. Some changes were good — I was eating better because everyone was watching and holding me accountable and I was pushing myself to do something outside of the norm — but others were not, which posed to be a problem. I know for a fact that I did not pick up a single book for 28 straight days – not good.
The reality was, it was not sustainable and even though I didn’t hate it, as soon as the 28 days were up, so was I. At this point, I was really looking forward to not writing or posting anything for a while. In essence, my enthusiasm and going “all in” ultimately led me to falling completing off the wagon and with no immediate desire to get back on.
One week went by, then one month, then two. Then I missed a newsletter deadline and then another one. At this point it was like the floodgates were pushed wide open and I just said screw it. What’s another month? Then I started to get this “uneasy” feeling because I knew it was something that I should be doing, something that I had done regularly for years but for some reason just could not get myself going again.
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! This thing that I had going on — not being able to take action, even though I knew I should – started to make me feel really guilty. This led me to feel anxious much of the time, which then turned into plain old stress. This is the exact same thing many individuals feel when beginning an exercise program and starting to eat healthier.
What we have here is actually a twofold problem. The first of which is biting off more than you can reasonably chew for a sustained period of time. When someone makes the decision to become healthier, it is perfectly natural to get excited and become motivated to change this, that, and the other thing.
However, in reality only a very small percentage of the population is able to make multiple changes at once and succeed. The statistics bear this out. From a behavioral change perspective, when someone is introduced to just 1 new habit or change, there is an 85% chance the habit will stick long term. Say this same individual is given 2 new habits to focus on at the same time — their success rate suddenly drops to 33%. If 3 new habits are introduced simultaneously, there is less than a 10% chance any one of these new habits will stick long term.
Not very good odds if you ask me. But this is precisely what happens in the world of health and fitness. We go from doing nothing to hitting the gym 5 days per week, ditch the drive-thru windows for salads, go from 5 hours of sleep to 8 per night, and start meditating because we hear that’s good for us too. Then we wonder why we could only last 3 weeks and go back to our regularly scheduled behavior, which leads me to my second point.
After our attempts to become healthier go up in smoke before our eyes — the feelings of guilt, laziness, failure, and self-worth all begin to creep in. We start to say negative things about ourselves over and over in our heads, that we then start to believe them, which makes the prospect for future possible change even that much more difficult.
I’ve had clients tell me they can’t succeed in their health and fitness because they must be too lazy. Yet, when I look at all they pack into their day from start to finish, laziness is clearly not the problem.
Let’s be honest, our lives are filled with things we have to do and our health often gets the short end of the stick. Then we hear what we’re supposed to be doing from the experts and it’s such a far cry from what we’re actually doing, we figure it’s not worth it and don’t do anything at all.
It’s what happened to me the last several several months and it’s what I see happening to many good intentioned folks everywhere.
I think that we can all agree that drinking enough water is a good thing, but trying to drink your water out of a fire hose probably would be a bad idea. Next time, instead of taking too much on at once, start with just one new habit or change at a time. Maybe it’s exercising twice a week for 30 minutes or eating an extra serving of vegetables a day. Do this for a week, possibly two, and make sure you really own it. Then, and only then, introduce another new habit. The odds are, this time you’ll succeed.