It’s funny how we hunger and strive and long for a change in our lives. Whether it’s behaviors or attitudes or habits (breaking old ones or forming new ones), we can want or desire these things to take place, to see outcomes and results but what are we REALLY willing to begin DOING in order to witness some of those changes…???
After pondering this question for weeks now, I’ve concluded it’s all about getting some reps (as in repetitions, as in practice, as in doing something over and over repeatedly with methodical intentionality).
And here’s my thesis: it’s all about the contagious nature of that first step. That’s what I’m arguing. In the sea of new years resolution (goals, habits, disciplines) posts, this is where I’m staking my claim.
My argument within this spectrum of conversation is this: to excel in something (or to outright change wrong behavior) you have to sample something first and then repeatedly after that and you WILL experience growth.
In other words, and at the expense of sounding completely unoriginal, you have to begin practicing. And my argument is that once you do finally begin, once you try this different or new way of doing something, you will grow that aptitude, that competence, that ability or muscle.
Here’s a short list of the things in my life I’d like to change, stop, or affect in some way:
- Language… my words. Whether it be course language-cussing, innuendo (jokes) or even speaking more slowly
- Anger… my temper. I’d like to get down on one knee and whisper at eye level with my toddlers rather than raise my voice, kicking and screaming in my own way (a literal adult tantrum if you think about it)
- I’d also like to run a marathon, by the way, and as it turns out I’m signed up to do just that in about 4 months!
- I’d like to practice more memorization (the Bible, poetry, public speaking)
- I’d like to master a second language
- And I’d like to learn how to use my voice (i.e. voice lessons for proper speaking and singing.)
And I’ve read blogs and I’ve researched and I’ve prayed and I’ve tried the little tricks and ticks (like wearing a rubber band and smacking it against your wrist when you cuss) and I think they’re really just gimmicks.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the only real way to see progress is to get reps… TO PRACTICE!
I’ll give you two of the most immediate analogies that I see often: health and spirituality.
The health one is easy: people want to look a certain way, feel a certain way or perform a certain way, but they prefer waking up one day and just arriving at that place. That is, unfortunately, not the world we live in.
The thing with faith is just as unlikely. People claim, ‘I want a strong, confident faith and/or relationship with God’ but whether they are willing to commit to certain practices to get there is less certain. You don’t just wake up a fully formed foot soldier for Jesus. You intentionally commit yourself to the personal practices of prayer, scripture reading, meditation, acts of service, the list goes on and on.
We are not magically transported to outcomes, we cannot skip steps.
What I do recommend we commit ourselves to is this though:
- Start now
- Start small
- Start strategic
As you can see from my list above, this whole thing goes WAYYY beyond the basic diet and fitness realm. Getting reps is about every single little hope, goal or increment of change we would like to see in our lives. From augmenting old behavior to creating a completely new skill. The most obvious wisdom is that we merely have to start somewhere and begin to methodically practice.
So actually, more helpful than state the obvious, maybe we should talk about why we don’t just up and start practicing something one day.
Maybe we need to talk about the roadblocks of these dreams becoming realities.
But here are some of the major themes that I’ve read from him and others on roadblocks and goal failures:
- no accountability
- no readjustments/course-corrections
- no connection to lifestyle change (e.g. goal: to run a marathon VS. goal: to build the lifelong habit of physical exercise)
- not starting small enough
- no plan, system or strategy
- not enjoyable
This short list LITERALLY SUMS UP THE MAJORITY OF REASONS WHY WE FAIL. I would be willing to bet that we are within 99% of the most common denominators for us all.
This list sums up why we fail. But who has the answer on why we don’t start? That’s what I’m pushing in this article. I firmly believe that for something new to be formed inside you, it requires getting reps. So my one big idea is to get more reps this year and here’s how:
It’s so basic but bears repeating: you cannot take on something new if you never start. I literally cannot emphasize this first, most basic, step enough. It’s like taking a food sample at the market-how can you know you like something, something sits well with you, something can grow on you until you try it. JUST TRY IT OUT!
When you go once, that first step will be a contagious seed for trying more, going again, doing it right over and over again.
You can see from the roadblocks list that this is one of the biggest inroads for failure, but when you start, it has to be bite sized pieces. I’m talking like:
Day one: put running shoes on and walk outside.
Day two: walk to the end of the street.
Day three: jog around the block.
One of my absolute all-time favorite idioms is K.I.S.S. (keep it stupid simple). It applies in so many areas of life and organizations and it applies here. If you want to see outcomes, keep it simple.
You gotta keep it simple but you also gotta keep it consistent. That’s where strategy or systems comes into place.
This is where the James Clear stuff becomes so handy because he’s a big “systems” fan (I know, you’re not-that’s okay! It’s not a dirty word, trust me!). What he means by it is that you must forego goals for systems because goals are short-term and limit happiness whereas systems are lifelong and actually produce results.
Do you have an attitude or behavior in which you’d like to see major change?
Do you have new habits or aspirations for adding to your repertoire? What are they and what are you willing to do, TODAY, to see some movement?
What have you seen work in forming new habits (or breaking old ones)?