Yesterday I went to gym in my pyjamas. I had decided to give in to the long to do list, and I was sitting on the couch, watching my last program before bed; having resigned myself to the fact that, well, I’d make up for it somehow. The excuses had seemingly won, and having had a long day, I really was tired and deserving of some relaxing mindless TV time, when a voice whispered – “Just go NOW.” In my PJ’s?
An internal dialogue began between my new friend ‘Self-discipline’ and my unwanted friend ‘Excuses’:
Self-discipline: You could just go like that, no-one will notice.
Excuses: (laughs and points mockingly) Are you crazy? People will laugh at you? You should just let it go, you can go tomorrow.
I spent another few minutes convincing myself that missing the session really, wasn’t that big a deal. The mere thought that I would get up, trek to the gym, in. my. pajamas was ludicrous, and yet I found myself putting on my sneakers and off to the gym I went. IN. MY. PYJAMAS.
When trying something new, we are hardwired to find the path of least resistance especially in areas where we struggle the most. By putting off, or finding a way to justify not doing something, we train our brains to automatically find an out that panders to our convenience. As easily as we create this pattern we can just as easily disable it by ‘tricking’ our minds into doing the activity merely by circumventing the excuse with an unexpected response. These unexpected responses can be likened to ‘changing the channel’; changing from the voice that has a litany of excuses and instead responding with one unexpected action that gets you moving, doing.
The more creative, and in my case, outrageous, the response, the more likely you are to actually do it. By leveraging this inherent spontaneous characteristic and reminding yourself of your why, you will more likely be more excited to keep going. And everytime you take a different route, and deny the temptation to succumb to the ‘excuses’ the more achievements you’re able to celebrate along the way.
This is similar to the idea of ‘Morning Pages’ outlined in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron* which encourages writing 3 pages every morning on the path of creativity. When I first started and failed at this practice, I realised that my hyper-critical voice had created an ‘out’ by convincing me that if I hadn’t completed 3 pages, it meant I hadn’t completed the task. So I have altered Julia Cameron’s advice and stuck to the literal prescription of ‘Morning Pages’, I just write in the morning. 5 lines, 10 lines, 1 page, and sometimes the stipulated 3 pages… or 5.
In the instance of gym, for me, any reason not to go, or postpone my workout seems justified because despite the fact that I know I need to be consistent, there are always seemingly more important things to do. Yesterday it was in pyjamas, tomorrow it might be in a tutu, either way I’ll be at the gym.
The key is to act, to do. To those for whom discipline is more foe than friend, this allows for more completions and ultimately the strengthening of those ‘discipline muscles.’ I guess in a sense you could call me an undisciplined go-getter.
It’s time to take the reins and become that #UndisciplinedGo-getter.
P.S. I’m a stickler for grammar and couldn’t leave without noting that the title should be “Gym for whom.” Old habits die hard.