If you were to ask me one thing to take away from working in the fitness industry for 13 years, it would be the irony on how we are hardwired to deal with problems.

Most of us deal with problems/pain in the most logical way, when you
feel pain, find a solution. The issue with this mindset is that by the time
the pain is felt, it has had time to grow and has created a bigger problem,
and the solution/remedy is much more difficult compared to if the pain
had been dealt with earlier.

Take exercise. Most people arrived at the gym because of a prescription
from their doctor, at this point, they were in much more pain than if they
had come to this realization 10 years prior. Now though, they found the
work much more difficult while often stating, “I wish I would have done
this 10 years ago.” So why didn’t you do it 10 years ago? Easy… the pain
was small and barely noticeable at that point. Most problems don’t grow
linearly. They compound with time. And this is the cruel irony of pain.
You are least likely to address the problem head on at the point when it is
the easiest to solve. You must proactively prevent problems vs
treat them.

What is the solution? I wish there was an easy answer but understand you’re working against your hardwiring. The best thing I’ve found is to build successful system(s). Scott Adams book on how to fail at everything and still will big hits on this. I’ll give an example of a specific system below and show the difference between an outcome and a process.

I want to look better! Who doesn’t? (goal). In order to look better, I need to eat better and exercise more (on its way to becoming a system). In order to eat better, I need to not eat out as much and buy healthier foods. In order not to eat out as much, I need to have readily available food at home. (SYSTEM). In order to buy healthier foods I need to use hellofresh to deliver healthy meals as I’m too weak not to buy chips or junk food if I’m in the grocery store and they are in front of me. (SYSTEM).

Let’s do the same for exercise. In order to look better, I need to exercise more often. I’ve tried in the past before by myself and have always given up as I can’t seem to find the motivation. In order to not give up this time, I need external motivation. I’m going to ask 2 of my friends to join me. We can keep each other accountable. We’ll workout 3x per week (Tue/Thur/Sat) for 30 minutes at the same time week in week out. If/ when one of us loses motivation, we will remind them of their commitment to us which should be enough impetus to keep going forward. (SYSTEM).

In closing, to me a system has all of these key ingredients:

  1. Repeatable, Consistent Structure (we love patterns)
  2. Social Accountability (we all suck at intrinsic motivation)
  3. Hard edges, with a soft middle (leave room for nuance inside the structure)

While this example applies to fitness, you can apply these concepts to relationships, business, and other areas of your life you want to improve.

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