Every now and then, things get away from us and we need to step back and reflect on those moments and outcomes of the past that didn’t play out exactly as we’d hoped, to regroup and set new goals. Sometimes it’s gaining a bunch of weight after an injury or a life event. Sometimes it’s just life getting in the way and waking up one day and knowing things have to change. For some people, these could be weight goals, for others they could be competition or milestones focussed, and for others they could be avoid avoiding negative behaviours or habits.
For most, achieving our goals will rely upon creating patterns of behaviour which are new, and will be initially uncomfortable. It’s hard for everyone and the reality is that 6 months after a goal is set, 80% of people who set goals will have abandoned them.
Being older means we tend to take our commitments more seriously than most, but staying on target and keeping momentum in the creation of new behaviours is tough for anyone. So we thought we might take some time to break open some tools to help. To do that, we need to speak about a few things; mainly intention, action, and the creation of character.
Over a long break, or when an event occurs that reminds us we are losing shape, losing strength or being less of what we could be, the negative feelings we experience stay with us. We dislike what we see, how we feel, how we are made to feel. So we shift – we move to actualise either towards or away from the feeling, and as a consequence we convert the feeling to a thing called intention; the one factor almost singularly responsible for all of our future pleasure or pain.
Getting off the couch
Intention is a beautiful thing – it plants the seeds for future happiness and contentment. It is pure, beautiful and undiluted ambition, motivation and decision in one package. Without it, we do nothing, we don’t move, we don’t shift. We just stay stuck in the feeling. And don’t get us wrong, a lot of people live their whole lives in that phase. Self hating. Unhappy. Depressed. Intention shifts us into gear and gets us into the drivers seat.
Yet intention can’t turn the key, it’s can’t deliver us the new belt, shed the pounds or lift the new personal best. Which brings us to that first step. Intention requires something more to get going; action.
So why do so any people find it easier to create intention during a lay off. It’s simple. This is where the feeling is strongest. We feel intention throughout the year, but the strength of negative feeling, and the lure of positive change is powerful when that feeling of “must change” hits us, that it drives us Ron action. And that’s good, right? Absolutely.
Initially, intention creates aspiration; a dream or an idea of what could be. I will lose those 20 pounds by June. I will be graded by December. I will compete. I will change. And usually, the sheer momentum created by the negative feeling, and the strength of the intention, creates an initial action. We go off the drink. We join the gym. We get back on the mats that first time. We hit the bag. We join a box. We pull on the Old Man Strength Rustic or the Stamp and we rock the out!
And then four weeks later, the grind hits, and the gym empties, the box thins out. The mats get roomier again. But why? Why if the feeling is so strong, and the do so many abandon their goals so quickly?
It’s about changing yourself, not your actions
The important thing to bear in mind is that you aren’t just creating new habits by deciding to pursue new goals; you are also breaking old ones. The decision to stay off the drink has both an upside and a downside. Training at 6am means less sleep. Squats means pain. Muscles need to be broken down again and rebuild. So people quit. Too hard, too many other things to pursue. The link is broken between action and habit.
You hold the reins
A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replied, “I don’t know! Ask the horse.
Most of us don’t realise that we live our lives at the mercy of our past actions which have become entrenched habits. Our habits, like a horse, pull us along and we go with it. You’re the boss, you’ve always been the boss, so start acting like it and take the reins.
Part of the trouble is that people equate action, particularly the initial actions taken at the start of the year, with the achievement of their goals. The reality is this – action is only the first step. Action done many times creates repetition. Repetition creates habit. Habit creates character. And character achieves goals. This is important – Action does not achieve goals.
Habit creates character
Recognising that your goals require you to change is easy, but trite. Pay more respect to yourself. You developed these bad habits because you liked them. You love these habits. Changing them means changing you. It requires a change in your character.
As you embark on your goals, think about the feeling, the intention and the aspiration. Know and understand where you need to be.
Launch the action. Repeat the action. Do not allow yourself to be distracted from constant repetition. Turn up. It’s going to hurt less every time. Turn up. Because turning up, training, going easy on the drink, eating better, is a game comprising hundred of micro decisions, each of which involve you doing something you aren’t currently programmed to do. Each one requires you to sit up, and tug on the reins.
After 8 weeks, something amazing will have happened. You will have created a habit; become a person that simply does those things. And over time, you will actualise what you have imagined, with your goals become almost incidental to the change that has occurred.
This gets harder as we get older. It takes more of a run up, more attention to repetition, more commitment. This is what binds us globally as a movement, and what makes old man strength. It is a constant repetitive commitment that creates a hardness of character that people don’t need to be told about. It becomes something that is simply part of who you are.
Join our community of strong old men and represent.