Developing behaviors and habits are important for achieving fitness and even life goals. It takes time, practice, patience, and work. When times are simple, these developed skills simply go into cruise mode and become easy without usually much contest. These behaviors become part of your decision making and don’t take up much thought or considerations. There are times where I don’t even think about them or even realize that I’ve worked on these skills at all. Therefore, I make sure to consciously work on them when possible.
I will sometimes test myself to see if I still have the discipline I set out to build within me. When things continue to go on as usual and sort of steady for me, discipline becomes easy and second nature and so I ask of myself if I indeed am still improving or I’m just going with the flow and allowing the mechanisms I have developed to take over.
You may ask why I actually do this if everything is working well what would be wrong with letting it just flow easily as my second nature. Or why even bother to question it and test myself if they are now my developed behaviors. There are a few things that come to mind such as to where I want to be versus where I’m just going and the continued effort it takes to get there.
On the face of it and day to day, yes, these behaviors that I have developed over time have become my second nature and the cruise control so to speak works. But it is when the time comes that circumstances or situations arise that will truly put them and me to the test, will my developed behaviors be enough? When I find that I have to dig deep, will my behaviors hold up? Second nature is good, but it’s also easy to go back to the first nature. So I want to be ready and not potentially override my second nature and practiced behaviors.
There is also the object of the plateau. When you stop consciously working on something that really usually takes constant and consistent work and development, it’s easy to plateau. In such a situation, you are no longer developing further. In fact, you may even sometimes find yourself going back on all the hard work you’ve done.
At the same time, it allows me to realign with my motivation. While there’s a lot of conversation about whether motivation or discipline is more important, the simple fact is that if we define motivation correctly, it will be there as the reason you are doing something in the first place. It will be the reason for your discipline. If you have no inner reason, motivation, to do something, you will have no reason for discipline. You will have no foundation on which to draw your discipline from.
So during usual times when things are going relatively well, when it’s easy to just do the simple things, I put myself through some small tests. Usually, it will be something simple like having a box of chocolates available to me and deciding to see if I can go a set amount of time without eating them and then how long I can keep it up after the deadline. I do like chocolate, and I may even eat some, but not from this test box which stays within arms reach of me most of the time. But it’s not just about if I eat it or not. It’s also about if they even tempt me, if they take my attention at all, or if and how much of a struggle there is. I actually still have a box of Lindor chocolates that was gifted to me in December. I do plan to eventually share them with friends when the test is over, but may just eat the whole box, we’ll see.
This pandemic and the lockdowns really tested my discipline and put me through my paces. LIFE ON FITNESS is about your motivation, your reason why, as much as what you want to achieve and the way you set out to achieve it. I wanted to bring up the concept here because as much as my discipline was tested, if I didn’t have my own motivations, I probably wouldn’t have had the discipline. I wouldn’t have done all the extra work when it would have been so much easier to just relax and watch TV during the times when there wasn’t much to do or anywhere to go, when the gyms were closed, when the usual tools were unavailable and inaccessible. Without my individual and personal reasons, it would have been simpler to take it easy at a time when the circumstances were extremely challenging.
The goal of these tests for me is to be prepared for when the going gets tough. I want to have the strength to dig deep into that reserved depth to be able to reach for it when I need it. I use the times when it’s usually easy to remain disciplined to consciously practice and test these behaviors for those challenging times where realigning with my personal motivations may seem extra tedious and challenging.
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