This morning I woke up at 5.05am. Last night, as I set my alarm, the thought of getting up that early was very unappealing. I’ve been tired all week and I really wanted to stay in bed. To top it off, it rained all night and it was quite a chilly morning.
My alarm went off and I still didn’t want to get up, but rather than hit snooze, roll over and go back to sleep, I turned the alarm off and got up.
My alarm is set that early each morning so I can go to the gym. I go Monday to Friday. Most mornings I don’t think twice and jump out of bed and go, it’s just what I do. But, occasionally I feel like I did this morning and don’t want to get out of bed. When I feel like that, I still force myself to get up, rather than hit snooze.
Just do it:
The reason I push through and just do it, regardless of how I am feeling, is I’ve set a standard of at least five gym sessions a week. I find if I do those sessions each morning, before anyone else is up, they are done and I don’t have to think about exercise again for the rest of the day. It also means I ‘don’t have to’ exercise on the weekend but if I do, it’s a bonus.
Another reason I push through and just do it, regardless of how I’m feeling, is the discomfort I felt getting up this morning was nothing compared to how bad I feel if I don’t get up and go to the gym.
It wasn’t always like that. A few years ago, the discomfort of getting out of bed at 5am was so big that I didn’t do it. At all!. Then I started training three days a week and started feeling better. My clothes felt more comfortable.
Then I started training early in the morning before everyone got up. It was easier and less disruption to the day. I noticed I felt better each day I trained. I still found it hard to get up though.
At this stage I was still only training three days a week. I wondered if I found it hard to get up as I still had a couple of mornings where I slept in. So, I decided to try getting up every morning, Monday to Friday. No sleep-ins. I thought that would make it easier and it did. That said, I still, had occasional mornings where I didn’t feel like getting up for the gym. This meant I stayed in bed and missed the session.
The one thing that stopped me missing sessions was setting a standard. I set a standard of five training sessions a week. I even told a friend to keep me more accountable.
Once I set that standard, I wanted to meet it.
Before it was just a thought – I’ll go to the gym each morning. A thought is too easy to give up on. Once it became a standard, I had to meet it. I met all my other standards-brush my teeth before bed, wash hands before cooking, etc. and now I treat this one in the same way.
Now it is a given. I get up and go to the gym five mornings a week. Not negotiable.
What else happened once I set this standard. I found the more I trained, consistently, the better I felt.
And, the more I trained, the worse I felt if I missed a morning.
This is the pain/pleasure model in action.
As humans, we will do all we can to avoid pain and seek pleasure. No matter how good our intentions are.
Once I experienced ‘pain’ getting up at 5am and found pleasure from staying in bed. But, through setting a standard and training consistently it switched. Now the pain comes when I miss a session and I get pleasure from getting up and exercising each morning.
What does this mean for you:
If there is something you want, a goal or an outcome, but you’ve been putting off the actions you need to do to get that goal, then set some standards.
Commit to a new standard and do it consistently, no matter how ‘painful’ it may be. Do this long enough and the ‘pain’ of not doing it will well and truly outweigh any pain associated with doing it. It will become your new way, your new habit.
So, what actions do you put off? What new standards can you set and do consistently so they become a new habit?