A new decade is underway, let's get down to brass tacks.
There is so much noise in the market it can be damn near impossible to isolate meaningful pieces of information when it comes to personal growth, peak performance, and mind-body fitness. This makes it difficult to identify and take meaningful actions that move the needle toward progress.
- You try what you see someone else doing.
- You do what you have always done (and get the same results).
- You do nothing because there’s so much to do, it’s just too intimidating to start.
While this message could devolve into the imploration: Do meaningful things. That’s not where I’m going. I’d much rather, at the start of a new year here, focus on filters for identifying and implementing meaningful things. The ‘teach a person to fish’ type of shit.
Yesterday I talked about standards, and how they, whether we like it or not, are wholly reflected in our daily actions and our mind-body health and performance. We don’t really have an out here. We literally wear our standards on our faces, our frames, and in our mental states.
We have what we can tolerate. And we design our lives to reflect those standards.
So, you, the one who read that email yesterday and thought, “Fuck you Tom, I got standards!” I get you. And I got you.
So, you got those standards. Awesome. Now I want to challenge you to do something strange. DON’T START DOING WHAT YOU THINK YOU SHOULD DO. Don’t just pep yourself up and get after it like a dog in heat. Don’t just add more stuff in your life, only to yo-yo back to par in three to six weeks.
Stop. Step back. Be patient. And look at the long game. Because that excitement WILL WEAR OFF, and that should have no bearing on your ability to sustain a change plan.
Consider two filters – categories of information that won’t be the same for any two people. This is you, it’s about your life and you eat the cake or walk in the poo (is that a saying?).
- What moves the needle?
- What can I execute in my worst week?
Let’s take fitness as an example here, though for most of us the health and happiness equation is more complex, as is my approach to mind-body training. But in the case of fitness alone, most people hit that standards wall, which could be anything from 10 lbs overweight to 150 lbs or more overweight.
Whatever your upper limit, when that triggers guilt or shame (which are not bad emotions, they’re useful! Listen to that shit, and realign!), you wake up the next day and make different choices. You hit that cardio, and you cut those carbs.
But what if cardio doesn’t move the needle? And what if you actually need more carbs, just of a different type? By what measure or metric are you aligning your personal standards with objective biology?
Now let’s say you know a thing or two, have had professional coaching or have read a few books and applied principles of training for yourself. Then you know that aerobic exercise (what most people call cardio) generally reaches adaptive plateaus quickly, and beyond that, you’re pretty much trading time spent for calories burned, with benefits capped at the end of your session.
And you also know that if you do foundational strength training, either weight training or calisthenics, then you’re developing deeper structures in the body that produce stability, balance, and resilience to injury. You also know that fast twitch muscle has ongoing metabolic churn – it burns calories ongoing, well beyond the session used to create it, and it makes better use of excess sugars consumed, giving you more leeway in food selection in general.
Now that we get the reality, like it or lump it, that the body needs stress, and of a particular type, to produce health, stability, and a mental state of power and confidence, it’s time to ask, given that information, how much of it can you adopt so that even on your worst week you can cover your bases? So that even problems at work, frustrations with the partner, a loss by your favorites sports team, don’t cause a downward mental spiral that takes you out of the game.
This is the sweet spot of routine: having the knowledge to select and implement key performance tools that truly move the needle and get results consistently over the long haul, and having the wherewithal to set yourself up for the big win by establishing habits that you can execute on your worst day, your worst week, and get it done as if brushing your teeth.
You don’t brush your teeth because you enjoy it (I’d imagine), you do it because you’ve seen images of old people with death in their mouths. That’s a standard you’ve chosen for yourself. You’ve habituated that value, like it or lump it, because it speaks to what you want in the future. It gets done. It always fucking gets done, no matter if you’re tired, drunk, depressed, or heartbroken (I hope).
It’s a reflection of self-respect, and in that, self-love.
Why do your teeth always get brushed? Because it’s 1) important, and moves the needle on health, and 2) you can do it on your worst day.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re stretched too thin, exhausted, burnt out, overworked, and committed to a career or have personal engagements that keep you that way, something has to give. You gotta step back and play the ‘standards game’ before a reasonable assessment of the filters above make any sense.
If you simply can’t fit in the things you know are essential for your health and well-being, mental performance and self-confidence… I can’t do it. I can’t finish that sentence. It speaks for itself.
You gotta love yourself. That doesn’t come from positive affirmations and self-acceptance. It comes from choosing and maintaining standards that embody self-respect, that put you in better and better positions in life to extract quality and joy and fulfillment.
That’s where it all starts. And with that, you need space to improve, to grow, to be your best. That doesn’t mean you need more beers or manicures, more time to say fuck it and enjoy life. Somehow that always seems to find a place in your schedule no matter how hard life gets. Humans got that shit locked down. No.
It means carving out space for routine on a daily (or several times a week) basis where self-love lives. Where space to test your deep capacities and trigger new growth, where space to sense, feel, and unburden is sacred. Sometimes you’ll enjoy it, sometimes not. But, and this is important, you will NEVER regret it.
If any of that resonates with you, and if you feel you need support in identifying those key metrics and designing routines that lasts a lifetime, a friendly reminder to peruse The Weightlessness Process.
Be weightless my gangsters,