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Life

Working out should be hard. If it’s not, you’re not working out.

Life can be hard too and if it’s not hard? Well, I’ll let you answer that for yourself.

challenging yourself

Whether it’s running a marathon, rock climbing outdoors, squatting 200kgs or swinging across monkey bars with our kids; we enjoy an element of challenge. Dogs on the other hand, don’t strive to increase their bench press or 400m sprint. If only we had loving owners that cared for our every need, maybe that would remove the desire for improvement. Unfortunately, most of us don’t. Once we’ve left the comfortable bosom of our parents nest, reality hits, hard. Even if this was the case, it wouldn’t take away that innate desire to improve. It’s what makes us human after-all.

Working out can either be driven by self-improvement or self-hatred. Life is exactly the same. Do you want to earn more money to improve your life or because you feel inadequate compared to others? When you decide this, how do you start?

The starting line

When it comes to fitness, if you haven’t ran since you were a kid, then the first goal is getting off the couch and starting. From here, you’ll aim to go farther, once you’ve gone farther, you’ll aim to get faster, once faster, you’ll increase the difficulty by adding hills, high altitude or different terrain. By this point you will have caught the bug or will at least continue so that you can eat more doughnuts.

I’m not a huge fan of running. I find it difficult alongside the voices of a thousand imaginary strength coaches providing me with better alternatives every single time I lace up my shoes. Once I get out there though and am panting alongside my girlfriend, the benefits start to appear. There are few natural feelings as good as that post run high. Plus knowing that you wanted to stop running at 1km but chose to battle on so that you could get better.

If you don’t view activities as challenges then you’re not going to appreciate the accomplishment. This is related to what you value. If you value Gucci handbags, then getting one will be an accomplishment whereas if you don’t, it won’t make a difference. We need to decide what our values are and how we can get better at putting them into action.

Life as a weightlifter

I love weightlifting. The variety of exercises, the atmosphere in the gym, strength gains over time. The sheer amount of information available and contrasting opinions makes it a never ending road of discovery.

The basics of weightlifting are choosing an exercise, doing it for a particular number of reps, then repeating this process for numerous sets with a short break in between. As the months go on, you up the weight and get stronger until you plateau. At this point, you either repeat the same process whilst staying the same or change the stimulus in order for your muscles to grow. Your muscles get used to these familiar patterns and tension. They need  a new challenge otherwise they will stay the same. Our lives are exactly the same. If you have to wake up a few hours earlier than your usual routine for a flight, you’ll be tired all day. Your body isn’t used to this.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith

Programming your life

What if we approached life in the same way we approached exercise? If you’ve read this far I can only assume that you are on board. If you hate the thought of exercise, are you the same with life?

We can’t be expected to instinctively know how to do everything the best way but it can feel as though we should. In order to get past this, we can use the knowledge of others to help. In the same way you may do a workout posted by your favourite athlete then keep track of your workouts including times, weights, distances and speed to improve. This methods use the scientific method, which we can apply to general life.

For example, you’re concerned you’re not progressing in your chosen career. Why am I not progressing? I could hypothesise that I am not progressing because I’m not pushing myself hard enough. The experiment would then be to work harder at 2 specialised tasks for 3 months within the job role and report back to see if you have progressed. You would hope to see a progression but if not you would form a different hypothesis and try again. This career actually isn’t right for me. The experiment would be to try a different career and see is this progress. Again, these are a series of experiments designed to help you develop in the very same way you experiment with different exercises to see how your body responds.

We should do this with everything. Keep track of recipes that went well and how to make it taste even better. Aspects of family life that are going well such as activities that everyone enjoyed and brought everyone together, how can I repeat this? Your finances? How can I turn my savings into more money for my future. You will begin to see as you list out the important aspects of your life, they’re all connected.

Personal bests

Personal bests and world records are the very essence of sport and exercise. Keep track of your personal bests. Your best weight, your best earnings, your best savings, your best experience with your partner. Then seek out mentors with advice on how to beat these personal bests.