Six Reasons for Hope: Part Five

You Can Choose Progression Over Perfection

“You are the sum of all of your training”…
from the Underarmour commercial with Tom Brady

“Your body becomes its function”…Nick Nilsson

“Don’t Focus On Your Flaws, Focus On Your Cause”…Fred Schafer

(If you missed Reasons for Hope 1-4, You Can Find Them Here.

The “secret” to getting into good and possibly great physical condition or achieving success in any venture is so ridiculously simple that many of us may never see it and apply it to our lives.

Or…we do “get it” but we would rather just avoid it and look for a flashier, faster, easier way. And this is because to tap into the power of this secret means that we must use daily discipline and gradually increasing effort.

So what is this secret?

All that it takes to get to a great level of (fill in the blank) is to make a tiny amount of progress over your previous days effort. But that does mean that we have to make some effort on a daily basis (if we want the best) and that effort should be a fraction more challenging each day over the day before.

Because I am a dyed in the wool Pittsburgh Steeler fan and almost bleed black and gold, I am not a big fan of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Having said that, Tom Brady is clearly a master of his craft. And, for those of us who may think he is “lucky”, if we were to actually see how hard Tom Brady works each day to make the most of his God given natural talent, we might “get” what got him to where he is.

Tom Brady’s “Every Single Day – No Matter What” Underarmour commercial gives us a glimpse into the mindset of a guy who was won four Superbowls.

I realize this is a commercial, but my gut feel is that this is the real “behind the scenes” Tom Brady. He is not acting when it comes to the mindset he shows in the commercial (see clip at end of this article, well worth watchingJ).

The reality though is that Tom Brady is someone who has worked very hard every single day for many years with the goal of surpassing his previous days effort by just a little bit. And he is now reaping the benefits of what he has sown in his professional football career.

My guess is that there are thousands of potential “Tom Bradys” out there that had similar abilities, yet many squandered them because of “All-or-None” thinking.

All or none thinkers are people who habitually think, “I have to do things perfectly, because anything less than perfect is a failure.”

The problem with all or none thinkers is that they cannot attain or maintain perfection. No human being in fact can.

No matter how skilled or experienced they are…

As great a quarterback as Tom Brady is, he still does not complete every pass, and sometimes throws interceptions and fumbles the ball. However, Tom Brady does not seem to let his occasional flaws and mistakes defeat him knowing that falling short occasionally is to be expected when attempting anything worthwhile.

But all or none thinkers are not so kind to themselves to allow any room for less than perfect. They tend to see the world as black and white and use the words, “always” and “never” frequently.

The problem is that all or none thinkers are rarely (very close to never) successful in anything they attempt. And, there is perhaps no area where this is more evident than when an all or none thinker wants to improve their health and fitness.

And, there is no other time of year when all or none thinkers are more exposed to themselves and the world than New Years and the infamous “New Years resolution”. Many all or none thinkers will soon be heard saying, “THIS is the year when I finally get in great shape!”

Yet the reality is that most all or none thinkers will never (there’s that word again) even get started on that statement. And for those that do, statistically, 9 out of 10 will completely quit within three weeks.

Why? Simply put it is because they cannot maintain perfection. In order to eliminate any chance of failure and guarantee perfect success so that they feel worthy they convince themselves that they are going to put forth a superhuman effort like the world has never seen before.

But such effort takes more energy than any reasonable person can muster and is about as much fun as a root canal at the dentist’s office.

So, as to be expected, the all out effort quickly turns into…no effort. A total giving up and quitting on the recently stated goal and a serious nosedive of hope for a better health and fitness future.

What is the driving force of all or none thinking? While this is a complex mental/emotional issue for many people, two primary ingredients are negative fear and possibly an unhealthy self-worth.

All or none thinkers often fear that they will fail at their attempt to get fit, shed excess fat and so forth. And if they fail, that will lead to feeling disappointed one more time and reinforce evidence that they are “fitness failures” and give them more reasons for feelings of a lower self-worth.

That is a self-worth thinking mindset that tells them, “I don’t have what it takes”. I will ALWAYS be out of shape, overweight, etc, etc.

And that of course can lead to tough to overcome hopelessness…

So how can we overcome all or none thinking and get on the health and fitness full speed ahead hope train for 2016?

Before I attempt to answer that question let me clearly state to any “All or None” thinkers that you already have what it takes to succeed. The thing that is “wrong with you” is the thinking pattern that in order for you to be “OK” you have to be perfect.

None of us could or should attempt to be perfect. That is simply unattainable, sucks the joy from our lives and even if we got close to it, NO ONE can maintain it for very long.

So how should we think? Simple. Think progression…not perfection.

Because, daily progression is within the reach and ability of all of us.

So here is a simple three step formula that you can use to progressively strengthen your health, fitness, body and hope all the way through 2016.

Step I. Write down both outcome and behavioral/process goals.

That’s right, they must be written downJ

Outcome goals are the types of goals most of us are familiar with. Outcome goals are just that, what we want to ultimately achieve as a final outcome.

For example, a common outcome goal I hear is, “I want to lose 20 pounds of excess body fat in the next 3 months.”

Not a bad goal, but my suggestion is to change it to 12 months. I know what you are thinking. 12 months?! That’s a long time.

My question for you is, how long have you been “trying” to lose that 20 pounds?

Remember that we are working to overcome all or none thinking and if you can start thinking more long term and permanent lifestyle behaviors, you will be moving in the right direction.

So, whatever your outcome goal is, write it down as specifically as possible on an index card (what I use) with a starting date and date you hope to achieve it by.

Now, flip the card over and write down 1-6 daily behavioral or process goals. These are the actual behaviors that are going to take you day-by-day to your final outcome.

Some behavioral process goals to shed 20 pounds of fat might be:

Do a full body functional strength/conditioning work-out a minimum of three days per week for 25 minutes, go for a progressively more challenging walk three days per week for 25 minutes, eat two-three servings of lean protein per day, eat 2-4 servings of green/cruciferous vegetables per day, drink 3-5 glasses of water per day, etc.

And, these are the goals/behaviors that you should concern yourself with the most and focus on because you can CONTROL these goals.

These are the goals that increase confidence and self-worth and…hope.

Realistically, we cannot control our outcome goals.

True, we can influence them, but we can’t control them. For example, I can set a goal to earn a certain income through my speaking and writing in 2016.

However, I cannot control the outcome of that goal and if I just stay focused on that goal then I can become discouraged when it seems that I am not progressing towards succeeding at that goal.

However, I can control my behavioral goals. These are the behaviors that I do everyday to move myself closer to my outcome goals and improve my chances of success.

And, when you and I complete (not perfectly!:)) our daily behavioral goals it grows our enthusiasm and hope and mental health and happiness. This of course builds our courage too and better keeps us on track to ultimately get closer to our outcome goals.

Step II. Commit to Improve by 1% Each Month.

Once again, many of you reading this might think that this “1%” target is not ambitious enough. Please remember that we are on a mission to crush all or none thinking forever.

Let me ask you this. If you could see your health and fitness, finances or any area of your life progressively get better by 1% each month (12% a year) for the rest of your life would that work for you?

Any businessperson or sports team would certainly embrace such steady upward growth. And so should we in regards to our health, fitness, strength and hope.

And here’s the diamond within this mindset. If you and I commit and stick with the 1% monthly improvement goal, it gains traction and builds momentum.

In the book, “The Compound Effect” it points out that if we can progress towards any goal by just 1/10th of 1% each and every day for 10 years straight, 10 years from now we will be doing 1,000 percent better in that area than we are right now.

I don’t know about you, but knowing that builds my hope!

Step III. Always Do Something.

If you have ever heard me speak or read 50FIT, you already know my “five minute fortifier” thinking and methodology. Sadly, all or none thinkers tend to ignore the power of taking at least five minutes everyday to work towards their goals.

Yet, nearly all of the great achievers I have studied have used this principle to keep themselves progressing towards their goals. Even when they didn’t feel like doing the work.

I learned a long time ago that “done beats perfect”. There are those days when I am exhausted form traveling, family issues demand attention and so forth. But whether it is a business project or my work-out or the book I am reading, taking five minutes keeps my on the hope highway towards progressively succeeding.

But an all or none thinker will unfortunately say, “well, I can’t get in a full 25 minute work-out today, so I’ll just do it tomorrow”. That is a a classic all or none thinker mistake.

Please, it that is you, decide today that you will always do something everyday. As you do, you will begin to feel your hope slowly surging towards you finally winning your own Superbowl of awesome fitness and health in 2016.

To see the 30 second Tom Brady commercial, please go here.

Stay Strong, Fred