Life is a series of choices, a series of decisions. I've noticed that's it's usually the least favourable decision that leads to the most favourable outcome.
Decision A is very easy to make. It requires no great work or dedication (usually just a continuation of a current behaviour). The outcome is exactly what you’d expect, continuation of the norm.
Decision B involves a removal from your current pattern of behaviours. It results in cognitive and behavioural change – change that is seldom easy and even more seldom comfortable. Decision B requires hard work. With this deviation from routine and normality comes much greater reward and a favourable return.
This pattern applies to life in general. The field of human performance is no different. I'm occasionally presented with clients and athletes who take the easy decision and are ‘rewarded’ with lack of progression, sub-par performance, or worst of all... mediocrity. I can't think of many things worse than being mediocre/average/normal.
It’s all about weighing up effort versus reward. If we perceive that the effort it takes to follow through on a tough decision will elicit a reward that we perceive as ‘worth it’, we will create that behaviour change. If I were to offer an experienced athlete a guaranteed 10kg increase in their snatch over 3 months by doing 30 minutes per week of work, most sane lifters would make the decision to do the 30 minutes of work. If I were to offer that same athlete a 10kg increase in six months by completing 15 extra hours per week of work, the decision may be different. Effort vs reward.
The decision people choose to make says a lot about their values. Do you value something enough to take the required steps to achieve it? People’s behaviours are the best indication of these values. Want to change body composition but won’t stop eating processed carbohydrates? You value the freedom to eat as you like over your desired lean tissue levels. Want to qualify for a major competition but decide to sleep in rather than get up and train? You value sleep more than qualification. Want to step up your physical performance but don’t have the guts to work hard? You value comfort over success.
Notice a common theme? Instant gratification and comfort versus long term positive change. Seldom can you have both. Seldom do people deviate from comfort.
The Richest Man in Babylon asks us… ‘What desirest the most? Is it the gratification of thy desires of each day, a jewel, a bit of finery, better raiment, more food, things quickly gone and forgotten? Or is it substantial belongings, gold, lands, herds, merchandise, income bringing investments? The coins thou takest from thy purse bring the first. The coin thou leavest within it will bring the latter.’
And so we develop a hierarchy of values. Those items at the top of this tree are the ones we will achieve. If these are unfavourable we will leave our highest ambitions at the wayside for short term gratification.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t have it in you to make the tough decisions. Most people don’t. And don’t respond to reading this by making an affirmation to change. Quite frankly, that means nothing. Goals and targets and plans mean very little without a change of behaviour. A change of behaviour is what matters. A long term, sustained change of behaviour.
Life is a series of decisions. Will you make the easy ones that continue a journey on the path to mediocrity, or will you make the tough decisions that end up with you having everything you ever wanted?