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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Illusion of Being in the Game


photo by bejan

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I had a conversation the other day, as I am wont to do, occasionally, and I mentioned that I was fascinated by people who continue to exercise for long periods of time, but so inconsistently that they really don't make any positive changes as a result. What motivates them to continue grinding away, basically fruitlessly?

Now let me stop for a moment and explain myself. I am definitely a proponent of exercising for greater health, but consistency is a requirement to achieve this benefit. Let's say that Suzy hates running...absolutely despises it. But she forces herself to do it occasionally, maybe once every week or two, because she reads that its the "right" thing to do to better her health and lose that nagging ten pounds. She has the best intentions of running the minimum 3 days a week for 30 minutes, but doesn't seem to be able to find that much time, or motivation. She does, however, continue this sporadic pattern for months, but she is secretly mystified, utterly flabbergasted that she hasn't lost any weight or gotten more toned as a result of her running. She does still harbor some hope that eventually, her activities will get her back into her skinny jeans, so she continues to grind away in vain.

What keeps Suzie doing this thing that she hates but produces no result? She is living the illusion of being in the game. In her mind, she has rationalized that the small amount of effort that she is putting in is enough, even though reality begs to differ. She thinks to herself, "Well, at least I'm doing something." Is that really better than doing nothing? Maybe for short-term ego self-preservation, but in the long-term it only results in a big let-down and unmet unrealistic expectations.

So, my advice is this: Stop spinning your wheels! If you are not getting the results that you are after, really sit down and evaluate how much effort you are putting into it. Stop making excuses and make a concrete plan to succeed.