It was a Monday morning. My knee was more painful than usual. I had spent most of the previous day working in my yard in the humid Florida heat. It was definitely one of those “really don’t feel like doing this” days. I had successfully followed through on my base line self-discipline rule, which is; no matter how much I may not feel like working out I will at least take my body to the gym. If after being there for ten or fifteen minutes I still “really” don’t feel like doing it I will allow myself to blow it off.
I have used this rule for most of my life. I began applying it to my martial arts classes from the age of fourteen. In the nearly forty-five years of training that followed, when I practiced that rule, 99.9% of the time I stayed, I trained, I made progress.
On this day the list of reasons to leave was growing rapidly as I moved toward giving myself permission to bail. Of course, I was only conflicted in the first place because none of them was a solid reason. I was not ill. I was not injured. I was not in debilitating pain. In truth, I was simply a bit weary. I would have much rather just gone to get a big honking breakfast, complete with pancakes covered in syrup (I love pancakes.) I know that these are the best times to build your perseverance muscles. I knew that my “reasons” were excuses.
I was just beginning to pack up to leave when the universe delivered. In walked a young lady that was relatively new to the gym. She had been coming for about three months. She was significantly overweight when she started and I had noticed steady weight loss and diligent workouts. She was wearing a new t-shirt. It said: “You can have excuses or results. YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH.”
It was just the brick in the forehead I needed. I put by bag down and got busy. It was a good workout. Not a great workout. Not the best I’ve ever done. It was a solid maintenance workout. I stayed the course. I walked out feeling good; much better, I know, than I would have if I had left.
I now quote that shirt often, both to my students and myself. It reminds me of the old adage that a Black Belt is just a white belt that never quit.
I would invite you to experiment with this self-discipline rule that has served me well for most of my adult life. The next time you catch yourself procrastinating or talking yourself in to bailing on actions that will move you toward your goals try these two things:
- Take the first step. Go to the dojo, or the gym, or your yoga class, or where ever the doing is to take place. Be there for at least ten minutes. If it still just isn’t going to happen, be ok with it (unless it’s the ninth day in a row.)
- Develop the habit of invoking this mantra – You can have excuses or results.
YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH.