Mid-January usually brings talk of goals and how many people have already ditched the resolutions. I find it truly awe-inspiring how such a vast majority of people have such weak commitment to their goals and dreams. Too many people wait for ‘tomorrow’ and usually have a good reason for it, but who are they really fooling?
Growing up I played high level hockey and coaches always used the saying “you’re only cheating yourself” when someone would cut a corner or take it easy during practice. For the longest time, I understood this intellectually but it never really set in deeply until recently. As I get older and people around me ‘mature’ to become more ‘realistic’, I see people cheating themselves all the time. I hear of people skipping the gym “just this once” or leaving early because they “earned it”.
I will admit, I’m definitely a culprit of the same behaviour from time to time and I always realize the impact of that decision much further down the road. I recently read in the book Scrum that a study showed in car manufacturing that if a mistake wasn’t addressed immediately upon discovery it cost 27x more to correct when the car was completed. The stats are astonishing and we’re all aware that mistakes should be corrected immediately, but why don’t we?
Humans do things to seek pleasure or avoid pain, and taking a shortcut ‘just this once’ really doesn’t cause any pain, so we don’t associate much negativity to it. Its the invisible power of compounding that is at work here. Skipping the gym today or eating that one cheeseburger won’t make you fat tomorrow. Its ‘just this once’ added up over days, weeks, months, or years that results in the massive differences.
Lots of times, we don’t realize the same power can be harnessed to work in our favor. Running that extra 1/4 mile, eating a salad instead of fries, or sending those extra couple emails before heading home will all put you in a totally different league when done regularly. The challenge with these activities goes back to the pain/pleasure dilemma. These activities are painful with little to no immediate payoff. What the hell are we supposed to do then? Do what Andy Frisella, the MFCEO, does. DO IT ANYWAYS. Do it because it sucks. Do it because it hurts. Do it because its hard. But do it because its worth it.
Next time you’re ready to skip the hard work, look in a mirror and remind yourself you aren’t a quitter. You aren’t like everyone else. Or maybe you are a quitter and you will shy away. Just remember, you’re only cheating yourself.