The 1% Rule and Goals vs. Systems

When I first started working out, I wanted to see abs immediately. I remember waking up every morning and staring into my full-length mirror from every angle, simultaneously playing with the lighting in my washroom.

I woke up and started my day with disappointment. I never saw any change day-by-day. Everything looked the same. One giant ball of fat. When I look back now and remember where my body was and where it is now, I realized I’ve changed a lot.

Day-by-day it’s hard to see changes. But when you look back in time, everything seems different. For me, my goal has shifted from getting abs before (date), to improving a little everyday. The 1% rule is the most effective way to improve.

The 1% Rule

Every week aim to improve by 1% physically, emotionally, and mentally. A series of baby steps is less daunting than having the overarching goal of ‘have abs before (date),’ or ‘be happy,’ or ‘be smarter.’

Those goals are too large and hard to satisfy, in their own right. But when you aim to improve by 1% every week, you stop focusing on the big picture.

Improvement is made through a succession of little steps, not one large grandiose move.

Be active everyday (and eat healthy) and abs will be around the corner. Find happiness in the little day-to-day activities. Start reading or researching something you’re interested in everyday.

Whatever it may be, improving on it by just 1% each week adds up. Before you realize, you’ll look back and see how much you’ve changed.

Throw Away Goals, Develop Systems

Goals are okay for most people, in the sense that it provides some rough estimation of an endgame. Other than that, goals are terrible.

Sometimes you have too many goals and can’t satisfy them. Sometimes, you never reach your goals and are discouraged completely. Goals are terrible in that sense.

Instead, develop a system. Systems > goals. A system is a particular way of doing something, each time improving on it. A goal is just an endgame. When I started working out I would do abs every single day.

I had the goal of getting abs within the first 3 months (I failed). Then I moved that goal to the next 6 months (I failed). I was frustrated and moved it to within a year (I failed).

And I kept failing. I realized I had my mind so dead-set on the goal that I forgot about the system. My goal was abs and I did abs (that didn’t work). My system was be active everyday and I got abs (that worked).

Doing abs every single day became repetitive. I changed up the routine all the time, but before long, I burnt out. I would go through these ‘phases’ of short bursts of abs, followed by long hiatuses.

Goals never work. When I switched to the system, the mere daily activity made my abs show. For me, I believe systems are better than goals. Develop your own systems that improve you by just 1% every week.

You will see real physical, emotional, and mental changes each week and it will keep you coming back for more. You will thank me for it.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

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One Simple Fitness Principle

I definitely need to preface this by saying that I am not an expert in this field, nor have I received any formal education on this topic.

I am purely speaking from life experiences and a compendium of research, that I have personally sent through my bullshit filter. Keeping that in mind, please consult your doctor before engaging in any physical activity.

In the purest understanding, fitness is a very subjective topic. Everyone has his or her own opinions on what works and what do not. Fitness is a combination of ‘research’ and bro-science.

For this reason, fitness has become a convoluted topic, with varying opinions filled with incredibly adamant people affirming their knowledge.

My base understanding of fitness consists of one core principle: Be active everyday. By being active everyday, I mean, doing any sort of physical activity. I intentionally make it sound vague.

When I first started ‘working out,’ it consisted of playing unorganized sports with friends. I wasn’t naturally gifted in any sport, but I enjoyed the act of running around with a basketball or a soccer ball.

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Key Principle – Be Active Everyday

Find something you thoroughly enjoy doing and all of the other elements of fitness will fall into place naturally. To stay fit in the long run, you need to see fitness as children do – for fun.

When it starts becoming work, you slowly consume willpower and eventually fall off. You have a limited amount of willpower each day. As we get older, we use up willpower on chores, kids, wives (and husbands), making dinner and taking out the garbage. Often, fitness is the first thing on the chopping block.

When you do something you enjoy, you take willpower out of the equation. Your natural inclination will be to gradually increase your workout. You continue to do it because you want to and enjoy it.

When you’re active everyday, your body feels good about it. Your brain releases endorphins (more on that topic here) and it will become easier to continue. It slowly becomes a daily habit and your natural inclination for variety will drive you to do more stuff over time.

I don’t recommend any sort of workout plan or system for fitness. Why, because what works for me, may (or may not) necessarily work for you. Everyone is different.

No matter how charismatic that exercise guru on your DVD sounds, don’t believe that someone else’s fitness plan will work for you. What you need is a natural and easy way to evolve into a fitness routine that works for your brain and body.

Any fitness routine that depends on willpower, will inevitably fail. Or worse, another part of your life will get affected when you divert willpower to fitness.

Routine

Construct some sort of scheduled routine for daily exercise. Join an organized team; exercise at around the same time everyday, or workout with a partner, friend, or spouse.

This will be the core to constructing a habit. Taking rest days between exercise days breaks up the pattern that creates habits. It becomes too easy to say today is a one of your non-exercise days, and maybe tomorrow too.

No Pain, No Gain

I’ve tried the ‘pushing yourself till you can’t’ system a few times. It has always failed for me (but maybe you’re different). For me, the ‘no pain, no gain’ system takes too much willpower. If I suck up willpower at the gym, I can barely resist binge eating after.

Secondly, this system puts additional stress on my body. My body is sore and debilitated. The soreness is like a penalty for exercising. When I had a penalty every time, it gave me a reason to stop and it was usually along the lines of “I’m too sore to workout today.”

I Don’t Feel Like Working Out

So how do you muster up the energy on those days where you just want to sit on the couch with a bowl of chocolate almonds and sloth out? The system that I found works best is setting a time frame.

On those days, I usually tell myself that in X amount of time, I will get up and go be active. I will allow myself to sloth out a little bit, but as the deadline to activity slowly approaches, I feel my energy begin to rise.

Another method that I have tried is putting on my workout clothes and going to the gym. When I’ve arrived at the gym, I usually do some form of activity because it would be a large waste of time otherwise.

Regardless of how you personally view fitness, the central point is to be deliberately active every single day. Being active is one of the essential maxims for good health – diet, being another maxim. Be active for your spouse and kids. But more importantly, be active for yourself.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

Let Me Clarify: The Routine

My recent article was written on the importance of creating and having a routine. I received a lot of feedback on the topic. One of which prompted this article.

I should have prefaced that article with ‘this works for me.’ Routine and schedules really do work for me. They help me organize my day, achieve my goals and grow stronger.

But that doesn’t mean that it will work for you. If you are the type of person that hates routine, creating a routine is the opposite of good advice. Routines may make you feel like a monotonous robot.

Wake-Up-And-Smell-The-RoutineYou may feel like you doing the same thing over and over again. Before you know it, you are old and grey with nothing but lists filled with daily routines. My goal is to try and convince the naysayers.

Sometimes, routines are bad. It allows you to drift into bad habits and, once they are set, routines make them almost impossible to break. If you are stuck in the routine of smoking after dinner then you will continue to do it.

You cannot allow yourself get stuck in bad habits and past mistakes. The bad routines and habits are self-reinforcing because of the immediate gratification of giving in.

Routine to Remedy Bad Habits

Forcing yourself to formulate a routine is beneficial because you are able to evaluate and remedy the bad habits. Once you’ve identified your bad habits and where you weaknesses lie, a strong routine can help you remedy that problem.

vegeta-dragon-ball-z-15120When I was overweight, one of the biggest things I discovered was night eating. I used to eat junk food very close to bedtime because my nightly routine consisted of watching Dragon Ball Z.

When I figured that out, I immediately tried to cut that out. I broke the habit by switching around the routine. I moved the television time to earlier in the day and slowly curbed the junk food.

How Can You Figure Out What To Include?

It seems difficult to figure out what you want in your routine. First you have to decide who you want to be in 3 months. 6 months? One year? Once you’ve figured out your goals, develop a routine around that.

For example, before I launched this blog, I decided prior that I wanted to post my thoughts to the masses. At the time, I did not consider any specific medium.

I implemented writing every single day as part of my daily routine. It gave me the opportunity to improve my writing and develop a niche.

Figure your goals and develop yourself around that. If you want to get in shape and the only free time you have is in the morning, develop a routine that allows you sleep earlier to allow your body to wake well rested earlier in the morning.

I implore you to start today. Write down your goals, where you want to be and how you hope to get there. Develop a routine around it. You will thank yourself in a future.

What do you think about routines now naysayers? Leave a comment below, my readers and I would love to hear from you. Lastly, check out my YouTube channel!

Be bold, be free, and love on.