Growing up, I’d always been extremely active, playing sport and embracing a movement-based lifestyle.
However, my activity levels deteriorated when I went to university, and along with it, the peace of mind that inevitably results from working out.
So, mid-thirties, my goal was to rediscover that lost identity. I’ve never been in terrible physical shape, so the aim wasn’t to lose weight or get ripped – I’ve generally always been accepting of my body shape.
Rather, the ambition was to infuse my days with a sense of calm. To shake out the excess restlessness of an over-sedentary lifestyle and reap the psychological benefits of working out…
To enjoy the endorphin release derived from lifting lumps of metal, running and generally pushing your body hard.
Instead of gunning for any objective improvements in running distance or lifting improvements, I only thought of that zen-like, post-workout feeling.
And though I know some people struggle with their exercise demons, this path was fairly easy to rediscover.
I think it’s because focusing on the process instead of the result of exercising has removed any psychological pressure.
It’s helped to re-connect exercise to my identity and bake the gym ritual into my daily routine.
Are there times I don’t feel like working out? Absolutely!
But with the repetition of my routine, it’s become blindingly obvious that the quality of my workout days far exceeds those where I take the easy option and don’t go to the gym.
So, on those cold, dark mornings where I really don’t want to lace up my trainers, I simply remind myself of how I’ll feel when I’m finished.
And the best thing? Even though I’m not aiming for physical transformation, losing weight and gaining muscle have been nice side-effects of my new system.
Where We Fall Down
Even though I seem to be having success in the exercise arena, I sometimes find it hard to replicate in other areas of my life.
Take writing for example.
I really want to improve my writing skills, and although I go through phases of writing consistently, I’ll often let it slip altogether.
After some analysis, I’m coming to realise that I’m focusing on the wrong things.
The fact that I want more readers or email subscribers are factors that, to a large extent, are outside of my control.
By placing too much emphasis on such outcomes, the writing process itself becomes a thankless task, an activity to endure before I reach the real spoils.
Contrast this outlook to my exercise, where I’m simply enjoying the feeling of performing the activity.
It might be a subtle shift in mindset, but it’s an important one.
The fact is, I get the same writing high that I do from exercise when I’ve produced a decent article and hit publish.
It’s the satisfying feeling of making sense of my thoughts and honing a craft.
What Are You Struggling With?
When we’re struggling to perform the activities that we know are good for us, a slight shift in perspective is often necessary…
To reframe why you want to invest in that area of your life.
Results-based thinking is a weak source of motivation.
However, when you reframe your thoughts and focus on an intrinsic feeling of satisfaction, you’ll be far more likely to stick to your chosen course.
You’ll do what’s necessary today, and as a by-product, will become the person you want to be tomorrow.