Updated February 20, 2015.
Have you ever failed to meet one of your fitness goals? You’re not alone. Change is tough, even for the toughest of us. But here’s a surprising trick: next time you’re stuck, why not ask yourself these two crazy questions.
You’ve decided to make some changes to your health or fitness routines. You’re sick of the status quo and want to make some improvements.
If you’re like most of us, you probably try to motivate yourself by imagining all the things you stand to gain from making this change.
You visualize yourself completing that marathon, tossing out those medications, feeling more self-confident, lifting that heavy weight.
This kind of positive motivation is a great tool.
But sometimes, even with these images of our successful selves in our heads, we find ourselves stuck. And that can be confusing, discouraging, and frustrating.
It’s also totally normal.
Over the years, I've seen coaching clients run into this problem again and again.
So I developed a little trick that makes it easier to get over the hump.
I call it “Two Crazy Questions.”
Here’s what to do. Next time you’re stuck, try asking yourself:
- What is GOOD about NOT changing?
(In other words, what are the benefits of staying exactly as you are?)
- What would be BAD about changing?
(In other words, what do you stand to lose by changing now?)
Why do these work?
When you become aware of what’s holding you back, it’s much easier to move forward.
Here’s a non-fitness related example.
Let’s say your garage is messy. It’s annoying to fight your way through old sports equipment, stacks of National Geographic, and holiday ornaments just to get to your car.
But somehow you can never motivate yourself to clean it.
Meanwhile, you’re feeling worse and worse about yourself whenever you think about your “failure.”
Time to ask two crazy questions.
- Question 1. What is GOOD about NOT changing?
Not cleaning the garage lets you avoid the work of digging through all that junk. Also, with all that time, you can do other (probably fun) stuff. So it’s easy to justify not changing.
- Question 2. What would be BAD about changing?
The task itself sucks. It’s boring and time consuming. Plus, you’re allergic to dust.
Worse, when you really think about it, something else is at stake. Maybe, for instance, you think it’s important to be thrifty and careful, just like your parents taught you. Throwing things out feels wasteful… even disloyal.
Or maybe you’d have to get rid of some things that remind you of the past. When you were younger. When your kids were younger.
In essence, you’d have to decide which memories are worth keeping and which aren’t. And that’s hard work you’d rather put off until another day.
See what just happened there? Maybe your messy garage has nothing to do with the mess at all. Maybe you don’t want to make difficult decisions and part with memories.
Hopefully, you get the idea. Because it’s the same with our fitness goals.
The strangest things can keep us from making change—even a change that we genuinely want.
But once you understand your major stumbling block, you can find a way to make one small shift. And that small change will in turn lead to much bigger changes down the line.
- Could you get rid of one thing from the garage? (Maybe recycle some old beer bottles?)
- Could you add one serving of vegetables to your daily meals?
- Could you party a little less hard (say, have one less drink)?
- Could you park your car a little further out and walk a few blocks?
- Could you check out that new gym down the block?
- Could you set aside time for three half hour workouts next week (instead of the two hour sessions you might think you need in the gym)?
So often when we contemplate change, we think we have to do it all at once.
But often, it’s better to take it slow. To commit to less than we think we can do.
(For more on making commitment work for you rather than against you, check out this article.)
Remember, to make genuine and lasting change, you don’t have to revamp your life. All you have to do is move one step in the right direction, because one step leads to another.
And nothing succeeds like success.
Crazy, maybe. But crazy like a fox.
Looking for the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle advice for you? Download this free guide: Fitness for men: The busy man's guide to getting in shape and living better.
And for more about Dr. John Berardi, including links to his latest men's health articles, click here.