Why is it so hard to do the things we KNOW we should be doing?
This morning, I was speaking to a mum…”My hamstrings are really tight…” she said.
Or checking in with a mum’s food diary “Not enough greens, I know…” she said.
Or me to myself after 120m sprints… “ I’m losing form after 80-90m…”
We know what we need: regular stretching, more greens, eat less rubbish, or do more ab work in my case.
And we know what the benefits would be: remain injury free, better health, stronger finish.
And it reality it doesn’t really cost us that much does it… 5-10 min every other day?
So why, oh why is it so damn hard to get it done, and done consistently?
Now confession… as I’m typing this right now, I’m not entirely sure I have the answer. In part, I’m writing this to make sense of my thoughts. So bear with me!
Let’s start with some reasons…
We don’t prioritise it because it seems “small”. So for example, I don’t prioritise my ab work; I don’t have a regular slot for it. So it just gets pushed and pushed till it’s 10pm and I’m battered, and, oh, tomorrow…
However we know that marginal gains, the sum of small things is what can make a massive difference. We’ve all read about Brailsford and the British Cycling team, right?
Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
So Reason #2
Willpower is an exhaustible resource… Sooner or later it will run out! Many of us are using up all our willpower to do things that we think are more important. Like doing a training session, eating healthily, not snacking, not murdering the children or the husband!
So when it comes to these additional things, we’ve simple run out of strength of character/willpower/motivation/call it what you will , to do it…
Which leads to Reason #3
We know that if we don’t stretch that tight hamstring may well become an injury. We know that a strong core could make a considerable difference in a sprint. We know that we should be eating more greens. But do we actually believe it? As in with all our heart and brain. Or are we just paying lip service to this?
In which case the problem may lie with our belief system and our identity rather than our habits/behaviours…
So sticking with me and my core example, I know a strong core would help. But I don’t actually believe that a five minute ab workout will significantly change my ab strength. This is because part of my training philosophy refutes the need to train abs specifically. After all, if you can swing 24kgs or deadlift 75kgs, then your core is probably pretty strong. No? Don’t know…
So maybe, although on the outside I say I need to do ab work, maybe I don’t actually believe it… It’s not part of my identity.
Likewise, your identity may be saying to you: I’ve never liked green veggies. Or, I’m the type of person who drinks beer and eats pizza. Or, I’m the type of person who is too busy for stretching.
Which means Reason #4.
There is a disconnect between who you want to be and who you believe yourself to be.
So you may want to be the 40 year old you can run a 13.5s 100m. But perhaps you don’t really believe it (because it feels like a long way away).
You may want to be the person who’s lost 2 stone. But perhaps you don’t really believe it (because you’ve tried this dieting lark dozens of times).
Our current behaviours are simply a reflection of our current identity.
What we do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).
So in order to change your behaviours, you have to change your identity. But, here is the crux, in order to believe a new identity, you have to prove it to your self first… You have to believe it! Like, truly believe it with your heart and soul.
Luckily changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.
1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
So in my case, I’m going to decide that I’m the type of person who can sprint 100m in 13.5 seconds. And to do that I’m going to prioritise working on my weakest link, which right now, is my core! Specifically by doing a 5-8 minute routine on every non-track training day (so 4 times a week).
There I’ve said it.
Who are you going to decide to be?