Change your state.
A study was done some years ago that revealed how people who left California for New York tended to enjoy more success. Of course, as Zig Ziglar explained, don’t go packing your suitcases and purchasing a plane ticket just yet. The study went on to reveal that those who left New York and moved to California also had a tendency to enjoy more success.
The commonality is that both groups changed their state, literally AND figuratively. Of course, changing your state involves at least two things: a physical change, and an emotional change. (An argument can be made for an attitudinal change, but I think attitude begins to surf the wake of physical and emotional change).
Changing your physical state requires you to move. Get off the sofa. Turn the TV off. Stop surfing the Internet. Put your phone away. Get outside.
Simply walking out the door can create the physical state change you require.
It’s funny, I suppose, but this article was inspired by my friend, John, who recently asked when I’d resume structured training again. He wanted to know if I’d gotten the itch yet.
I told him that I’m not itchin’ to do anything but what I’ve been doing: living the easy life.
See, I’m a good couch potato. I’d put my skills up there with the best. In fact, if there were a competition, I reckon I could podium.
First, I don’t require a wardrobe change. I can spend the whole day in my pajamas. No problem. Second, between Facebook, Twitter, Words with Friends, YouTube, the stock market, and premium television channels, I’m rarely free of distractions. In truth, I’d be a very good lazy person.
And if I need inspiration to lounge and kick my feet up, I needn’t look beyond my sofa. I have a dog whose talent is taking long naps, stretching, and then taking long naps.
So after 5 weeks of idling, while my Activity Switch was flipped to Off, I’d effectively developed a new habit. No longer was I training everyday. Now I was relaxing everyday, and I’d become damn good at it.
I’m also fairly handy at self-justification and excuse-making. While my east coast brethren will scoff and offer no sympathy, and while Mikko and Hans (my friends in Finland) will think me mad, I find 40 degree weather unbearable. I think I’m better suited to live in Hawaii, or perhaps on the surface of the sun.
So the idea of waking at 4:00 AM for 5:30 AM swim practice makes my bones ache. But alas, as current Ironman World Champ Sebastian Kienle has said, “If you want to be first out of the water one day, you have to be first in the water a lot of days”.
They say a habit can be formed in 17 days. And this seems to ring true for me. So essentially I just need to force myself to move — it’s essentially forcing the baby in you to eat vegetables or to go to school or to write a letter to Grandma, or to do any number of things you know are good for you. I’ll kick and scream as I drag myself to the pool or to the bike or to the track, but after 17 days, I will have built momentum. And then, my Herculean boulder of laziness and sloth will start moving, on its own accord, in a valuable direction.
So physical change might be considered Step One. Step Two in changing your state involves emotional change.
It’d be great if you could just get off the sofa, step into a phone booth — and in a blur — change into your swim jammers à la Superman. Alas, until you become a true superhero, you’ll likely require an emotional change in order to compel the physical change to occur.
In order to help stir the emotions, I reach for video, in this case, the DVR’d broadcast of the 2014 Ironman World Championship. There’s something about lava rocks, heat rising from pavement, suffering faces, sinewy bodies, slow-motion shots, music taken from the Transformers movie score, and the voice of the guy who narrates the action . . . it gets me going.
But not at first. At first I look at the bodies jostling in the waters of Kailua-Kona, and I think, “Wow that looks like a lot of work”.
So the hardest part is the emotional change. But if you can change your emotional state, even for a moment, via YouTube video or your favorite song or a motivational quotation or perhaps a blog post, use that changed emotional state to change your physical state.
Once you get moving, you’ll be glad you did. Do it 17 days in a row, and you’ll likely have established a new habit. And you’ll have developed some serious momentum.