Article in the Mindscape Section of the December 2015 Issue of Stayfit Magazine by Vinesh Sukumaran
Why do fitness programs have so many dropouts? Why are so many people stuck in jobs that they hate? What makes some people have unshakable conviction about certain goals or targets that get replaced over time or vanish altogether? Think about it. Chances are that way down inside, you don’t actually enjoy your fitness program. Maybe the goals that you are pursuing are not actually your goals but what you are doing for other people.
Sitting at a Robin Sharma conference a couple of years ago, I heard him say “….. Join the 5 ‘o’ clock club. Wake up early, it’s one of the best investments that you can make for yourself …..”. I realized what this man was saying was nothing different from what my parents and for that matter many of our parents have been telling us all along. To wake up early. I thought about this for a bit and figured that Robin Sharma made it sound far more glamorous than some of our parents ever did by actually emphasizing how an extra hour every day means 30 extra hours a month and that translates to 360 extra hours a year. Now if your typical working day comprises even of 10 to 12 hours, then that translates to about 30 extra days a year. But apart from all this, the reason why many people actually followed this advice is because it was Robin Sharma who was saying it. This is the age old message and messenger argument that has been around forever. A lot of times, the messenger is as, if not more important than the message itself. We end up following things just because someone we respect or someone who has a powerful aura is telling us to. This sort of motivation is a good launch pad to get you to start waking up early but it might not stop you from pressing the snooze button when the alarm goes off on the third or fourth morning.
Likewise, we might land up at a concert and be so mesmerised by a band’s performance that we decide to learn a musical instrument or take singing lessons after that. In fact, this initial wave of inspiration that gets people started is a good thing. Unfortunately, it does not keep many of them going for too long. Don’t be trapped by the halo effect of people and practices. The fate of initiatives that you take up as a result of momentary excitement is short-lived. Habits that eventually stick and behaviours that actually develop are ones that resonate strongly with your actual desires.
At a moment when you are not struck by any kind of external motivation or inspired by any charismatic external agent, ask yourself some of these questions.
- Do I actually want to wake up early?
- Do I actually want to learn a musical instrument?
- What are the things that I actually want to do in life?
The answers that come out of such introspection are likely to be a more accurate assessment of what you really want to achieve and the things you actually want to do in life. Many of my coaching clients who’ve been taken through similar exercises have ended up with a lot of clarity in terms of what they want to do and what suits them best. If walking alone every evening is a better fitness formula for you and it saves you the social discomfort of being in a gym with many people, then you should do that. Likewise, if you’ve been working a job for years because your family and friends considered it to be a prestigious job, but what you actually want to do is teach, then that’s what you should be doing.
What will eventually work for you is just what you actually want. There’s nothing more to it.