Posted on 2nd December 2022 at 15:32
You can do it! and if not, just aim lower!!
“set a goal beyond your reach so you always have something to live for”
I’ve heard tales of many people who perform extraordinary feats of self-discipline and life mastery, apparently the big chief of CrossFit starts his day with 1000 burpees, because a once he’s done them, he knows his day can’t get any worse.
Dave Goggins gets his wife to kick him of a pier with his hands tied behind his back, so he has to make his way through a cold river, why? because it scares him, so he forces himself (and his wife as a co-conspirator) to do it.
There is a collective group of people online in the 4am club who get up early, swim in open cold water, run a few miles, meditate, read something inspiring before downing a kale smoothie and heading off to their job where they will pause occasionally to update their social media followers with an inspirational quote or two.
I might have been inspired by these people once, but now they just make me want to vomit my organs out, then my teeth, and then finally spew my bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and remaining organs until I’m a puddle of skin and goo relieved of the overwhelming disgust of these “inspiring” influencers.
Of course, aspiring and aiming high has its place, I’m not denying the relevance of a BHAG (Big Hairy Ass Goal) in moving forward success and development of the human race, but the simple and honest fact is, that for the most part, and I don’t think I’m speaking on behalf of just myself here. I really can’t be arsed most of the time. I’m too busy, it’s overwhelming and I just can’t commit to every big aspiration I may have.
The problem with aiming high, is that it leaves little room for average, you either go hard or go home, lose as much weight as possible in a few weeks, train hard for a photoshoot to look your absolute best, complete a Marathon in under three hours, be in the top five finishers at Park run, double your income, drive the car of your dreams etc etc.
But then what? And what if circumstances don’t allow you to get anywhere near your goal? Or if your preparation just doesn’t cover the ground necessary to attain it? Do you go even harder and try again? Possibly, but most people just give up.
And even if they do achieve it, then what? Another photoshoot? A quicker Marathon?
I’ll reiterate again that I truly believe in aiming to accomplish great things, but I think most of us are not giving due respect to aiming low.
I propose that aiming low is even more important than a BHAG, if more people could place value in aiming low, we might see a monumental shift in societal health and wellbeing, but as it is we can’t see the wood for the trees, so obsessed is our collective societal hive mind on the lofty challenges we know we should be trying to accomplish.
Our lack of recognition for aiming low is crippling us, the paltry and even perhaps sarcastic acknowledgment of rewarding mediocracy is stifling the potential we all hold, and I’ll give you a very good reason why, it all boils down to one simple principle.
Doing something, is better than doing nothing.
There, that’s all there is to it, your god damn welcome. Let me give you a real-world example.
Fat faced Frank sits at home scrolling through Facebook with a conveyer belt of cream cakes slowly piling into his mouth whilst he looks on at all the people on wankagram posting about their best life.
His arteries are thickening by the minute as he swipes to see another post from Abs Andrew who’s just got up at 4am to break some ice and go for a swim whilst posting something about “just accept who you are for your own sake and not for the approval of others” whilst posing with a side on bicep flex and leaning forward to suck in his stomach and reveal more abs.
Fat face sighs, speeds up the conveyer belt and cries a little at the life he can never have.
But what if Frank aimed low? What if after watching ‘Dave “just hate yourself some more” Goggins’ he decides to try doing a couple of press ups. Literally just two press ups. Will Frank post his two press ups attempt on Facebook? Not likely, because he knows that even if people don’t give him shit, they’ll be laughing at their phone screens at his wobbly arms shaking and then giving way at the top of the 2nd press up. Someone will probably comment that his form is pathetic, or they will share with a laughing emoji.
It's only two press ups, why aim so low. Why even bother.
Because two press ups is better than none. Two press ups a day, sixty a month, seven hundred and thirty a year. It’s better than none. Nobody will post on social media about their two press ups, but I’d like to send out a heartfelt chest bump and high five to anybody who aims low and just does something, because it fucking counts.
At some point whilst doing two press ups Frank will realise, he can get a third, perhaps even a fourth. It’s unlikely Frank will ever be world press up champion, but that doesn’t matter, because that isn’t the point, aiming low is about something being better than nothing.
If Frank got up to twenty press ups through consistency and hard work over a few months or even a year, and if he kept this up, a simple exercise requiring no equipment that takes just a few seconds and can be done anywhere. Then Frank could one day be a ninety-year-old who can do twenty press ups. Now he post on Facebook and the world is celebrating this legend who had the balls to recognise the value in aiming low. I love you Frank.
My friend Paul Spence was affected by a brain injury some years ago.He spent a long time in the wilderness, unsure of his conscious ability to communicate with the outside world, he was confused, dazed, and frightened of leaving his home.
He lost his job as an electrical engineer, with a team of electricians working for him. His brain injury would go onto ruin his marriage, his sense of identity. To this day he has never regained the personality he had before his brain injury.
But one day during his brain haze, Paul decided to do a little workout in his living room.
Three press ups, three squats and three sit ups.
Next day he did the same.
He kept at it, and that’s all he ever did, which is a bit shit really, not sure why I’m even sharing his story, it’s embarrassing.
Not really, Paul went on to regain control of his life, he set up a charity in 2012 supporting people with brain injuries, and on the tenth anniversary of his initial incident this year he ran a hundred miles in one go. (I may have helped a little)
Some achievement to be sure, but actually just one of many, Paul has ran several marathons around the World, he’s climbed Everest, he’s completed the Yorkshire three peaks, the National Three peaks, triathlon and bike rides across half the country, and much, much more.
It all started with three press ups, three squats and three sit ups.
Aim low my friends, the difference it will eventually make is astounding, celebrate aiming low, half a lb a week weight loss might not be inspiring or particularly motivating, but it should be, because that’s 2lbs a month, potentially that could 26lbs a year.
How might that be achieved?
Let’s use a hypothetical person who is overweight and has been overweight for a long time.
Each lunchtime they have a sandwich, pack of crisp and a mars bar, plus a cup of tea with two sugars.
They make two simple changes to their diet; they lose the mars bar and have just one sugar in their tea.
That’s 250 calories a day, that’s 1750 calories a week, or about ½ a lb of weight loss.
They could go even more simple than that, and keep the mars bar, and just walk for half an hour each morning and evening. They would burn the same number of calories per week without any changes to diet at all.
Best of all this weight loss is a lot less painful than a restrictive and intense diet, as much as those things have their place, I speak as an expert on this matter when I say they are not sustainable.
There are lots of ways to break down the math, but it starts with small and simple changes yielding big results over the long term, and that starts with praising the value of those small and simple changes, just one less alcoholic drink, not having the biscuit with the coffee in the café, an extra five- or ten-minutes walking on top of your usual walk.
It matters more than you realise, and its every reason to feel good. Praise and excitement for aiming low, it’s more of a big deal than we give it credit for.
end note: if you'd like more like this from your favorite Personal Trainer then get in touch, my studio in North Ferriby, Hull is a little quiter this time of year so I have more time to write articles.
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