Quit Your Bitchin'!
With a new year quickly approaching, you may notice that your favorite gym classes are starting to fill up faster as people start to think about their goals for the next 12 months. But while a new year does motivate some people to jump start healthy habits, it’s not uncommon for those same people to lose sight of their goals a couple of months into the year. It makes me wonder—why do some people succeed while others don’t? What is the common denominator? I've always been very curious about what makes some people carry on despite the odds, while others give up at the first sign of a challenge. Two things happened last week that gave me a little insight—and might help you if you are struggling.
The first was that I encountered a woman at the gym who was clearly unhappy to be there. She grumbled, bitched and moaned about it from the moment she walked in the door—and not in that funny “ohhhh these burpees suck” kind of way, but in a really bitter, grumpy way that affected the energy in the room. She did the minimum she had to with the same level of enthusiasm people usually reserve for things like jury duty or root canals. There was no joy or passion.
The second was that I read the book, “GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Written by Angela Duckworth, this book explores how people who are successful, high achievers in any area of life are the ones who have the combination of passion and perseverance for a goal that she refers to as “grit.” Through her research, she discovered that this “grit” is as or more important than talent or intelligence when it comes to success.
People with grit perceive challenges differently and have an “I’ll show you,” mentality.
The grumpy gal at the gym was seriously lacking in grit. So are many others who drop out when something doesn’t come easy. They whine, complain, and eventually throw in the towel because they “can’t do it.” But the good news is, according to Duckworth, you can increase your grit factor. How? Through four stages: interest, practice, purpose and hope.
Things you are interested in are likely the things you will stick with—but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be good at them—at least not right away. You will still have to work, but with practice, a purpose and hope, you can get there. For example, I became interested in triathlons a couple of years ago—but I was a terrible swimmer—and I don’t particularly love swimming anyway. But because it was part of my plan and purpose I dug in and practiced, and practiced, and practiced until I became an adequate enough swimmer to meet my goal.
Without going into the entire book, the bottom line is that a “watch me” attitude, passion, and determination are what successful people possess. They do things because they want to—because it matters to them and they care about the end result. There are days when the last thing I feel like doing is writing a blog for this website—and I’m a writer—I LOVE to write. But because I care about this project I’m internally driven to do it. In fact it will drive me crazy NOT to do it.
So back to the lady at the gym. Will she meet her goals—who knows? She is showing up---albeit with a crappy attitude---and putting in some work. So it’s not to say that you can’t get results without grit---people stay in the same job they hate for years and get a paycheck every week. But when it comes to fitness, wouldn’t it be more fun and productive if you changed your mindset and focused on a bigger picture of success and what that means to you? Maybe it’s being healthy and active enough to keep up with your kids. Maybe it’s being fit enough to run a 5K or marathon. Whatever it is, perseverance is key—and if you still hate it and can’t find the passion for it, then find the passion for something greater—yourself.