And yet, this pattern of thought is one of the most critical distinctions between achievers and wanna-bees. Those who succeed are different from those who struggle in one simple but crucial capacity; they do not wait until they feel like doing what is critical.
Here’s the great news. If you find yourself “opting out” of your best intentions and succumbing to your feelings, energy levels, and real-time distractions, you have an enormous opportunity to improve your performance, results, and happiness. And it’s easier than you think.
Just as you change your default ring tone, program your computer to a new wallpaper, or set your browser to a new home page, you can (and probably should) change the default of how you process the thoughts and moods that sabotage your success.
Let’s take exercise for an example. Exercise enthusiasts know that the hardest part of any workout is getting started. Getting out of your chair and into motion – on your walk, run, bike, or to the gym – is the most important element of your exercise program. How long or how hard you exert yourself or what you do is secondary to the fact that you do something! If you never start, nothing happens. And something is light years better than nothing.
But here’s the problem with this default. Rarely do we feel an abundance of energy before exercise. Energy is the byproduct of exercise. We feel better, more energized when we are engaged in exercise and afterward. You can’t enjoy your cake until you bake it.
Feeling crappy should be the impetus to exercise, not the excuse to avoid it. “Not feeling it” becomes the trigger that propels you toward doing what it takes to change that condition. Sure it may be tough to get started. But once you do, every minute you spend in motion will make you feel better, and you’ll leave feeling great, as well as grateful.
This thought pattern essentially places exercise at the bottom of your list of priorities. You are effectively saying, “once everything else in my life is taken care of, I will then give myself this reward.” This strategy, of course, breaks down immediately when you put it in practice. What happens is that “everything else” fills up every moment, leaving you at the end of another day wondering how the time got away from you and renewing your intention to work out tomorrow, if you can somehow fit it in your chaotic life.
This is absolutely true. After a workout you will have more energy, which we’ve established. You’ll be thinking more clearly, and you’ll have the feeling of accomplishment to help you carry that momentum into the rest of your day. There’s also a good chance you have been solving problems while you’ve been exercising, as the physical activity leads to brainstorms of creative thinking. With that in mind, the best time to work out is when you’re facing a problem that demands careful consideration. Furthermore, when you feel the pressures of a full schedule you should be even more certain that you put yourself in the best state to succeed.
Default to choosing excellence and improvement first, and you will soon be feeling the satisfaction of accomplishment.
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