It always frustrates me when I come across a “reality” show that focuses on weight loss. The overriding message of these shows is that the only way you can reach your goals is through extreme sacrifice and torture and that if you don’t wake up full of passion and determination every single day, you don’t want it bad enough.
I not only disagree with this philosophy, I absolutely hate that it’s pushed on so many people as truth. I also have to believe the theatrics and shock value employed for ratings freaks some people out to the point where they don’t even try. And that is perhaps the worst part of all.
To understand why this method doesn’t work you have to understand one basic concept when it comes to accomplishing anything: Passion is overrated and it won’t get you where you want to go.
Every one of us has read a motivating story or watched a YouTube video that immediately inspired us to do something great. But then we wake up the next day and that passion is gone, replaced instead by the reality of the situation; that whatever it is we were passionate about a few hours before is going to take an awful lot of work. That doesn’t make us negative or lazy. It makes us human.
This is exactly why we can’t rely on passion alone to carry us from start to finish in any long term endeavor; it’s rarely sustained long enough to get the job done. It might create a spark which will get you moving but once the spark fades, you need to look to something more reliable to do the heavy lifting. That something is habit and consistency.
I used to run…a lot. I was pretty good at it, too. I ran everything from 5ks and half marathons to full marathons. To get to the point where I could run 3.1 miles really fast or 26.2 miles in a respectable time, I had to consistently put in the miles week in and week out.
There were many mornings when my alarm went off at 5:30 am and it was so dark and cold outside that I can assure you, there was absolutely no passion in my blood. Not even a trace. But I did it anyway because I was used to getting up and running and after doing it for so long it was just habit. I knew the only way I would get to where I wanted to go was through consistency. Passion had very little to do with it most days.
This same mindset can be applied to anything. It’s the reason I automate my savings and investments every paycheck, because consistency and positive habits, not passion, yield positive long term results. These traits will also significantly reduce the chances of backing out or quitting when things get challenging, which they inevitably will.
When I was training for races, I would always lay my clothes out the night before. I would have my work clothes ready to go as well. This little bit of preparation the night before made it easier to simply crawl out of bed in the morning and head out the door.
Having someone get in your face and yell and scream and tear you down might make for great television but it’s ineffective in the real world. Instead of buying into the all or nothing, no pain no gain mentality, focus instead on doing the little things. Most people severely underestimate the impact these little things have on helping you accomplish your goals.
Want to lose some weight? Commit to something small and do it every day. If you usually put 3 packs of sugar in your coffee, try 2. If you drink regular soda, try half diet and have regular. If you like walking or running 30 minutes a few times a week, try adding one extra day, or go for 10 extra minutes each time. Currently saving $100/month? Add $10/month and you won’t even notice but over the next 10 or 20 years, that small change will add up. Compounding and momentum are powerful forces.
In the end success is really about stringing together consecutive days of positive and efficient action towards whatever it is you want to achieve. Those actions don’t have to be earth shattering or extreme; they simply have to move you in the right direction.