Last updated on July 4, 2016 | Follow @deanyeong on Twitter
I started working out many years ago (around three years from this time of writing). As I take a closer look at my health and fitness journey, it seems that I’m always ruined my whole progress and achievements after few months of grinding in the gym and got back to my starting point. Then, I will go full throttle again to rebuild that, but I will certainly drop back to where I have started again after sometimes.
This is really frustrating.
Every single of us experienced this. While the time period may vary, most people have ups and downs in their life. We took a huge amount of action and consistency to reach a certain level of our goals in a few months or years. We saw every challenges and obstacle as the motivators that push us further during that period. And we never ever let any roadblock slows us down. We knew we’re in control.
That brought us to a new height that we desired for long, but not yet the ultimate success on our list. But then, things started to go wrong and move sideway. We lose control over those areas we care the most in our life. It seems impossible to reach another new height. Every obstacle in our way seems inevitable. We got really unmotivated and unproductive. Sometimes, we even got pissed with ourselves and thought about giving up.
We then dropped back to our starting point. Often, we got even worse than where we got started. Until the moment our situation was exceeding our lowest point of tolerance, we finally decided to make an effort in changing our situation again. That drive kept us moving forward but before you know it, we’re in another cycle.
Some of us tend to blame our results on something else – some sudden incidents, that irresponsible team member, or those tight constraints.
Rather than shifting the responsibilities onto something or someone else, I suggest we should take a close look at ourselves. Every outcome we have today is the result of our past actions. To understand the ups and downs cycle at a deeper level, we should look into what we are doing consistently on a daily basis.
While I’m always measuring my health and fitness progress based on my strength (how much weight I could lift), one of the metrics I care the most is my body fat percentage. It looks something like this in the past three years:
It frustrated me so much because it seems like I can never get over the ceiling and break through my plateaus. So I start to take a deeper look into my daily routines and habits. And what I found is changing the way I look at my training routine and overall fitness approach.
The reason why most of us are bouncing between good and mediocre but never able to get from good to great is we tend to stop doing what is already working. Sounds dumb right?
When we see some progress and improvement, we think we should do something differently in order to get to the next level. It stops us from doing what’s already working. Besides, we tend to lose focus when we see some results and start to get distracted.
I believe this happen in many areas of our life:
When we finally achieve our goals (usually short-term), we lose sight on the big picture and move away from our initial plan that pulls us back to our original starting point. Until the state that we sense the crisis again, we get back into hustle mode and the cycle goes on and on.
To break the bouncing cycle, try observing your daily actions in different phases of your life. How do you feel and what do you do when things went well? When things went wrong, observe your emotions and actions again.
Most of us want to get from good to great, but that’s not what most of us are doing. Our actions are the cause of our results and it leads us bouncing up and down between good and mediocre. Rather seeking for the next big shiny strategy to get us somewhere, we should start looking at our daily habits.
It’s what we do on a regular basis lead us from good to great. Even when we’re out of luck, the worst case we will experience is bouncing between good and great.
Some people might argue that carry out the same routine day in day out doesn’t bring you anywhere. I have zero arguments about that. Most of the time, what take you here won’t take you there, but practicing a daily routine is what makes up our baseline. It’s only possible for you to create a breakthrough when your baseline is strong and solid.
Let’s put this into some other perspectives:
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A full marathon is 42.195km. It’s a long distance to run non-stop for even the best marathoners out there, left alone for regular folks (like me). In much of the time, professional marathon athletes don’t train for 42.195km every single day. They may do a 12km training today, and another 16km tomorrow. When the actual race is near, they are well prepared. Without the baseline training, it’s not possible for them to complete the full marathon race at all.
How about business? While striving to hit a new sales target, close a big deal, and grab the huge project, every business will need to have their baseline solidly set up. The sales team has to be well trained and prepared to close a bigger deal, the operation team has to know their product or services well enough to run a bigger project, while the customer service team will need to be ready to handle a larger workload that comes along with the increase in revenue. Without all the solid nuts and bolts, a huge leap in growth may cause more harm than good to any organization.
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Apply it to the individual level, the daily habits and routines are the critical parts since they are the foundation in every area of your life. It’s what gets you from mediocre to good. With a strong and solid baseline, you can now take a big swing occasionally to create breakthroughs.
If things didn’t go as well as you expected, you’re still safe since you have your baseline and foundation set up. In another hand, an occasional swing might create a breakthrough that brings you to the next level rather than bouncing within a range.
It’s difficult to justify what is mediocre, good or great. It varies from time to time, when a breakthrough is created, the bar is raised, the justification shifted. It’s a never ending process in life and in every area and aspect. The solution really is to think long-term, build the baseline with daily habits, raise the bar with an occasional (planned) big swing, and repeat the whole process again and again.
Never operate with the short-term mindset, because life is a long game.