Saturday, 7 December 2013

Forget the "big enough Why", concentrate on your real What

There’s an undeniable truth most motivational theories contain in some shape or form - you'll only succeed in any major, life-changing endeavour if your “Why” is big enough.

What this boils down to is: without an all-consuming desire for a major outcome, you’re not going to achieve that outcome.

On the flip-side, if you do have an all-consuming passion for a particular outcome, you'll definitely find a way to achieve it. And you actually will achieve it, almost inevitably, whether you consciously try to or not. Think: actor who went to a thousand auditions before he landed his first role; entrepreneur who failed a hundred times before building a billion dollar empire; inventor who persisted through years of failed iterations until he hit on the eureka formula; sports person who practices constantly until she becomes a champion.

For these people, nay-sayers are irrelevant. They can look the nay-sayers calmly in the eye and, with an iron-clad will, say “I will do it”. And then go on and do it.

But here-in lies the source of most people’s failure to lose weight, become millionaires, retire before they are 40, become a sports/movie star etc: they don’t really want it enough. They think they’d like it, for sure. They have a hunch it would improve their lives. They can vaguely imagine it would be a great thing. But at the end of the day, they’re not really that fussed about achieving it. So they never try hard enough.

Usually this is because they don’t really want the thing at all! They’ve been fed a line by media, society, popular culture. That line says “you should want these things” or “look at the people who have these things - don’t you want to be like them?”. We absorb these quasi-desires as if they’re their own when in fact they’re not. They’re just things other people have told us it would be fantastic to have and as a society we accept this and it becomes the norm.

Or sometimes, the object of a person’s desire really is their own, but they know it will take so much hard work and sacrifice to achieve it, and they consciously or sub-consciously decide that sacrifice - giving up time with family, leisure time, health, mental serenity etc - is too great. So they try to achieve the same goal in roundabout ways while maintaining those other things they don’t want to sacrifice. And in the end, they wind up with a feeling of failure for not achieving those secondary desires. They didn’t want them enough to work with an all-consuming passion to achieve them.

So let’s circle back to where we started - most people don’t have the strong enough “Why?” to attain their “What”. But the fundamental issue is here is not the lack of Why. Its that so many people are working on the wrong “What”. So of course these people are never going to have the strong “Why”. 

At the root of this cycle is the “What”. Too many people are trying to achieve someone else’s “What” instead of their own. The result is, at best, they’ll achieve that What but feel empty and a lack of fulfilment in life. More typically, they’ll never achieve that What, nor their own real What. They’ll chase someone else’s dream and wind up achieving neither that dream nor their own real dream.

And because its not really their own dream they’re chasing, they’ll likely give up early anyway and move on to another widely-held, media-influenced dream. Then another. And another.

The lesson here is: instead of blindly starting down the route of trying to achieve one of the universally popular Whats, you must find your own What(s). When you find the What that’s right for you, it will never be a struggle to find the big enough “Why” to achieve the What. As soon as you visualise your What, you'll feel the burning passion bubbling up inside you. That's the “Why”. You don’t need to rationalise the Why, or, as some personal development coaches advocate, write down a list of “Why” reasons and recite them every day. That burning sensation you feel in your stomach when you think of your What - that's your Why.

And here’s the thing: your What might not seem that big, block-busting or difficult to achieve. And that’s totally fine. In fact its normal. Most humans do not deep-down need or want to be the world’s best x or the most famous y. (In fact its probably a psychological deficiency that gives some people sufficient drive to achieve such exceptional outcomes - scarred emotions, having experienced extreme poverty, shame etc.) Our true desires are usually quite modest. And when you achieve those desires, you'll also achieve an almost zen-like calm and oneness with the world. You'll be serene, happy and joyful every waking day.

And once you achieve that happy state, about the only thing that could interrupt your zen-like joy, would be the adoption of a media and culturally-induced pseudo-desire that made you think you’re not succeeding, that you’re a failure in some aspect of your life. So be wary of consuming popular media and being influenced by what others say you should be trying to attain. The media is largely there to sell you things you don’t actually need or want, the pursuit of which will actually make your life less fulfilling, and the attainment of which will likely be strangely unfulfilling after a day or two.

Okay, so with the understanding that we need to work on our Whats, the next step is to identify and write down these things you are going to try to achieve in life. The goals you are going to pursue with an abiding passion.

For everyone they’re different. Its amazing how this is almost the inverse of the very limited list of popularly conceived Whats that apparently everyone should want - millionaire, great body, lifestyle of the rich and famous. Your own Whats are an amalgam of your unique personality, experiences, values and principles. They’re you.

And there’s a really easy way to identify them: simply recognise and make a list of the things you most like and that give you the most satisfaction in life. That’s it. That list is your Whats. The things you should spend most of your time and energy trying to attain.

By way of example (and only example, because like I said, each person’s Whats are unique to them), here is my current list (you need to revise your list every year or so because of course it will change as you change through your life):

Things I Love
  1. Getting up early
  2. Peace and quiet in the morning
  3. Hear birds singing in the morning
  4. First cup of tea outside
  5. Morning walk
  6. Morning exercise
  7. Having a fit and healthy body
  8. Sunny, warm weather
  9. Vegetable garden
  10. Kids at home for lunch
  11. Kids playing outside
  12. Investing and trading
  13. Part-time IT/business analysis jobs in large organisations
  14. Time together with just my wife
  15. Restoring furniture
  16. Working on my business for a couple of hours each morning 
So with this set of deep, unique, likes and desires, I know exactly what my Whats are, and all I have to do is set about arranging my life to achieve them. No need to write down my list of Whys to motivate me to achieve my Whats. The Why wells-up every time I read my list of Whats and envisage myself achieving and living them.

So here’s the take-away: don’t struggle to find your huge Why. If you’re struggling to find it, you’ve probably adopted someone else’s Whats. Find your own Whats and get on with achieving them. They’re probably much easier to achieve than you think.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Should I Do P90X When I'm Sick?

Danger - man-flu detected!
Today I'm feeling pretty run down.  Sore throat, tired and possibly a slight temperature.  I was traveling interstate yesterday and was probably sitting among a bunch of germs on the various modes of transport.

So my dilemma this morning is - to do or not to do P90X?

Its Thursday, so I figure just 3 more days until my rest day anyway.  And I'm not feeling all that bad.  So maybe I should just soldier on and get on with it.

...but I've decided to do the sensible thing and skip it almost completely.

The thing about P90X is it takes enormous commitment and dedication to "keep pressing play".  And from the start you'll be developing not just your body muscles but also your "habits muscles".

To be successful in P90X you'll develop such a level of "nothing stops me" attitude that within a few weeks or months, it'll be harder not to do P90X than it is to do it!

(Incidentally, you'll probably also see your level of commitment in all other aspect of your life goals and endeavours increase simultaneously as your "habit muscle" strengthens.)

So its really hard for me to break the habit today and have a rest day but I figure that P90X is so extreme that its got the ability to tip me over from feeling a bit under the weather for a day or two into seriously sick for a week.  And I'd much rather force myself to have a day or two rest than risk being out for a much longer period.

Saying that, I'm still going to do 20 minutes of YogaX.  The first 20 minutes, which is really gentle for me now and which I believe will help detox and expel some of the germs from my body.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Does YogaX Get Any Easier?

Scott doing half moon - Round 4!
The very first time I did YogaX it was an enormous challenge.  And the second.  And the tenth!

In fact, the first time I completed all the positions really properly was probably well into Round 2 of me doing P90X.

And I'd been doing Ashtanga yoga on and off for 10 years before that!

Probably the toughest sequence for most people will be the 3 positions in the 15 mins from 00:30:00 to 00:45:00 or thereabouts.  The ones that end with Half Moon.  As Tony says, from there on on "The hard work is over...sort of".

The thing about yoga though, and actually this the philosophy throughout P90X, is its not a competition with anyone except yourself.  So it doesn't matter if you can't do all the positions for their full duration.  Just do what you can and slowly you'll improve over time.

But do keep pushing yourself.

For sure, some days you'll feel stronger and more flexible than others.  So work with whatever you're feeling like that particular day.  Don't beat yourself up because you feel you were doing it better last time.  Just do your best, on that particular day.

Then one by one you'll start knocking them off.  You'll be able to do that position you could hardly hold at all for 5 seconds, then 10, then the full thing.  And then another one, and another one.

You'll even start doing the ohms at the end!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Secret Key to P90X Success

What's the single most important aspect to your P90X routine?

Pressing "Play" everyday?
Pushing yourself to your limit?
Following Tony's "Tip of the Day"?

All very important, but in my opinion the single thing that will make or break your P90X success is...Sleep!

Getting at least 8 hours kip every night during P90X is rarely or never talked about but for me its the most crucial ingredient.

Proper sleep means:
  1. You wake up fresh and ready to jump into P90X instead of feeling drained and tempted to hit the snooze button a few too many times.
  2. You've got the energy to attack each exercise with vigour instead of going through the motions.
  3. Your body has time to mend, recover and grow.  If you're pushing your body the way you should in P90X you absolutely 100% have to give it time to heal and grow.  Otherwise what's the point?  No matter how hard you train you're never going to give your body the chance to convert that training into the body you want.
In other words, sleep affects you before, during and after P90X.

Everyone knows how much sleep their own body and mind need to feel in top shape.  For some its 6 hours (lucky them!).  For others its 9.  But whatever it is for you make sure you carve out that time.

Be fanatical.  Your success relies on it.

And if you've got time to spare, be good to yourself and have an afternoon power nap or an extra hour each night during P90X and see that difference that makes for you!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Chopping YogaX in Half

YogaX is fun, challenging, calming and energizing.  Its also extremely long...

Too long for me to fit into a busy day (which like you I'm guessing is most days).

So in my first round of P90X I made the decision to chop YogaX in half.  Its worked out great.

Now, each week, I alternate between the first 45 minutes (up to and including half moon) and the last 45 minutes (from tree position onwards).

Its actually a really natural division.  The first half is much more energetic with lots of vinyasas and movement.  Whereas the second half is more about balance and stretching, with a strong and challenging abs routine at the end.

So now instead of dreading yoga because of the time its going to take (with the danger of me skipping it completely), yoga days have become my fastest session of the week.  Psychologically, they feel like an "easy" day but in fact they're still a really strenuous workout.

And I use 15 mins of the extra time to clip my hair!  You don't have to do that though ;-)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Mix it up

One of the great things about P90X is the way you can mix up the schedule.

I don't recommend doing this on a regular basis since a lot of thought has been put into the schedule by Tony and team -  but sometimes its a wonderful thing to have the flexibility of juggling routines.

Maybe you're running a bit late one morning and you can't fit in the hour and a quarter you need for Weights and Abs that day.  So you can swap-in that week's Plyo or Kenpo X routine which both run for just an hour.

Or maybe you're travelling and the hotel doesn't have a gym with weights or a chin-up bar.  So do the yoga routine in your hotel room instead.  Then do the weights routine back home on the day that would have been yoga.

I always schedule P90X for the very start of the day so there's little chance of something squeezing it out but the one thing I still do before P90X each day is check my emails in case anything a bit urgent has come in over night.  Usually I'll suppress the temptation just to deal with an email quickly while I'm casting my eye over it.  But sometimes I get drawn in and find myself taking 30 mins to do what should have been a 15 mintute review.

That happened this morning, so swapping tomorrow's 45 minute yoga session with today's 75 minute weights and abs routine meant I could still have the kids' breakfast prepared in time for them to have a relaxed breakfast before school.  Much better than being stressed and running late right from the start of the day.

Monday, 31 December 2012

P90X Round 4 Day 1

Started Day 1 of Round 4 P90X today:  Chest & Back plus AbRipperX....

Felt pretty soft from the get go after 3 weeks off.  Guessing my muscle memory is a bit off.  First half of Chest & Bac, I maintained where I left off 3 weeks ago.  By the second half I was short about 25% of reps for around half of the exercises.  Feeling fit and healthy though.  Supple and no niggling injuries.

I really like Chest & Back.  It goes fast, its not complicated and the team on the DVD are great.

Feels great to be back on P90X and I'm proud to have completed all the exercises well.  The missing numbers are to be expected and I still gave it everything which is the main thing.

Abs went great too.  After 3 rounds of P90X I can complete all the reps.  Today I only missed 5 of the bonus final exercise reps.  Again, I feel great to have completed it.

This is us going into our second year of P90X.  Ready to bring it in 2013.