About 20 years ago I read my first Personal Development book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Steven R. Covey. That book was followed by at least 15 additional personal development books.
I love the Personal Development industry and I accredit much of my “success” to the principles that I have learned from them, but at the same time I must admit that I learned a very bad habit from them that to this day I am trying to break.
The theme that resonated through ALL of these books is the idea that MORE IS BETTER. The “hustle mentality” and the “do what it takes” mindset was prominent in all of these books, and to be clear I do believe that there is a time and a place for these mindsets and practices.
As I got into corporate wellness and began coaching corporate executives I quickly found out that these mindsets had a light side and a shadow side. On the light side they provide a mindset that is conducive to hard work, persistence and rising above mediocrity. On the shadow side they promote a mentality that lends itself to self-guilt, self-shame, and consistent peer comparison that leads to frustration, “not enough syndrome” and burnout.
Personally it took me burning out physically, emotionally and mentally before I learned the unsustainability of these concepts.
Take health and fitness as a quick example. If you are burned out from consistently “hustling” or taking “massive action”, your excess can without question affect your desire and motivation for self-care and exercise. Your body is a sophisticated and delicate biological system that can only take so much stress before it start to do some really undesirable things.
Let’s say for example that you have been hard at it with your career and raising a family for the last 20 years of your life. You have let your health and fitness slip and you decide that you want to reverse course. You take your same hard-charging mindset into your exercise and nutrition routine and you are off to the races.
You start hard in the gym. You hire a trainer or join a gym and you do what you do best…you hustle and get after it! Why spend one hour in the gym when you can spend two? Why do 1 set when you can do 3?
Three weeks into your program you begin to notice that your elbows and shoulders start to hurt. “Whats going on?” you ask yourself. “I should not be hurting because I just started exercising!” What you forget is that you have been sedentary (or at least less active) for the last 20 years and now your body is wondering where all of this “excessive load” is coming from?
Is there a better way?
What if we swept conventional wisdom aside and actually SLOWED DOWN? What if we only started with 2-3 days of weight training instead of jumping right into 5 or 6? What if we started to make small sustainable changes to our nutrition instead of jumping to an extreme diet (i.e, going from junk food to strict Keto in a weeks time).
Unfortunately we have a hard time in the West with the concept of gradual and sustainable change. It is unfortunate because our chances of succeeding LONG-TERM increase exponentially when we change one small thing at a time.
In other words when it comes to lifestyle change SLOWER IS BETTER! Yes you heard it here! If you are interested in a permanent lifestyle change (which you should be because that is the only way you will remain consistent long-term) then it will require you to slow down so that you can speed up!
Here are some guidelines that you can follow when you are making changes to your lifestyle:
#1: Adopt the mindset of permanency
#2: Clarify what your overall vision is (exercise habits, diet, body composition, time allotments ect)
#3: Focus on ONE small thing that you can change right now. For example you could comitt yourself to drinking half of your body weight in water every day. Do it for a week and then advance to a harder goal such as limiting your sugar intake.
#4: Avoid the “all or nothing mentality”. If you set a small goal and you are not perfect, relax! Forgive yourself, hop right back on the wagon (don’t talk yourself out of it) and forget that it even happened!
#5: Reward yourself for your victories. It is up to you what “reward” means but make sure that is it not a BS reward, but rather something that you actually desire.
#6: Continually reinforce that you are “OK” to take things slow! When the self guilt starts in with thoughts like, “I should be further along”, or “I should be going faster”, gently remind yourself that you are on a long-term journey and that you are doing it the RIGHT way!
I know this message is completly opposite of our current quick-fix mentality that comes from pop culture and also opposite from “more is better” mentality that comes from the personal development space.
Just trust me on this one my friends…I promise you will thank me in a year from now when you are looking back on your changed lifestyle and you see how much you have changed when it did not even feel like you were exerting excessive amounts of blood, sweat and tears. Yes, conventional wisdom is often wrong and this is yet another case of it.
I would love to hear your COMMENTS and hear of your journey so please comment here!
Life is Good!
P.S. If you would like help in changing your lifestyle we specialize in lifestyle change! We have a unique “5 Power-Pillar-Coaching System” that is designed to help you change your mind and body in sustainable ways. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like a free, no-pressure consultation please learn more here: https://www.llfit.com/consultations/