"When it is obvious that the goal cannot be reached, do not adjust the goal, adjust the action steps." - Confucius
We’ve been lied to. Our whole lives we’ve been led to believe that determination and elbow grease can fuel the engine that takes you wherever you want to go. Stories of, "The little engine that could." fill our minds as we diligently bleed hours of our lives into an effort to fit into an old pair of jeans, reserve a spot on the podium or secure that job that we want. No one ever tells the story of the little engine that had the forethought to flip the railway switch and take a more economical route. Probably because he got to his destination in one piece and didn’t bitch about how hard it was...
The thing is, we’re so used to thinking that people get to where they’re at because of the amount of effort they put into it, when that’s actually a rather minuscule factor. Many times what got them there isn’t so much about the amount of work they put in, it’s how much of the process they understood and how they applied that information.
So often in life we seem to strap up our boots and hit the road, determined to reach our destination but without ever consulting a map. Society has put such an expected emphasis on education that it’s seemed to have lost it roots as a means to further our understandings of the world, enabling us to reach new depths of application of knowledge. Instead, it has given us, “the answers” without first letting us ask the questions. We view education as a system to spit us out near our intended destination for a career. We rarely associate furthering our knowledge and understanding with goals outside of the work force. This combined with our ever-so-prevalent ludicrous advertisements often create an over-simplified and frankly ignorant view on what it takes to achieve success in our goals.
Want to totally fix back pain? Wear this!
All I have to do is make sure I have support? Got it.
Want rock hard abs? Give this a try!
Wow, those people did hundreds of crunches and got abs like those? I can do that!
Want to lose weight? Better workout with this mentality!
Apparently crying helps burn calories....
This is especially true when it comes to matters of our health, fitness and performance. We’re constantly berated by TV ads where unrealistic levels of results are portrayed from a freaking shake weight. Or when individuals are seen drowning in a pool of their own sweat, barely able to move from the new workout cliche and acting like it’s the norm and everyone should workout that way because it’s, “healthy.” It leads to a belief that unintelligible and misguided hard work or monetary investment (a resultant of your hard work) will get you the body you want.
That’s crap. If you want to build muscle, you better have a well put together strength program and adjust your diet. If you want to lose fat, you start doing metabolic work and adjust your diet. If you want to perform better, you better get a firm understanding of the traits needed in your sport and then understand the process of adaptation needed to accomplish this. Then adjust your diet. Want better results from all of them? You better start looking into your sleep patterns and stress levels. Oh did I mention what to do when you hit a plateau? Or about how to structure recovery days or create blocked cycles to build exponential progress in any of your goals?
The point is there’s always more to understand and often that extra understanding can save you a life-time of wasted effort. If you blindly dump effort and time into something, you don’t actually deserve to get the outcome you want. You haven’t put in the thought. Whether it be in your fitness, career, or even social goals, misplaced effort, no matter how great the amount, will not get you where you want. However, a little bit of forethought and planning combined with your already awe-inspiring amount of effort can yield great things.. Don’t be the Little Engine that Could, be the Little Engine that Does.