It’s the New Year and everyone having reflected on their life is looking to make a fresh start. Myself included, this year I have two resolutions. The first is to write a weekly blog post, so in the spirit of getting off to a good start here is the first. The second is to brush my hair everyday, which is perhaps surprisingly the more challenging of the two.
Most people will not realise their resolutions this year.
Motivations are fascinating.
Habits are boring.
And that’s actually your solution. You can try to make something habitual and if you persist for long and hard enough, you can do it everyday on autopilot. But what is SO often overlooked is whether you wanted to do it. If you didn’t, you probably won’t stick at it forever or at least you won’t be happy in doing it, which is arguably worse.
When I was at school, I met a legendary running coach (Bud Baldaro). I was amazed as an epically average runner that he even gave me the time of day. He asked me, ‘Do you love running?’ I thought this was the strangest question. I’d never thought about it. But it was absolutely right. My answer avoided the question as he pressed ‘But do you really love running? To make it you have to love it.’
Several years after this conversation, I’d made progress I could never have imagined, running internationally and a member of Kelly Holmes’s elite junior group. But I’m not sure I ever loved it. My answer to Bud’s question was non-committal enough to reveal my passion (or lack of it). I never chose my path, I got into running hating it. I hated cross country like everyone else, problem was I tended to win school competitions. I stuck at it because I was good, not because I loved it. And that’s probably why I’m not still doing it. There was plenty I did love and was motivated by; the people, the challenge and the curiosity about how good I could get.
We are never taught or encouraged to think about what we want. We often do the things we do because we always have, because we could or because we should. All terrible reasons. We’re told or we tell ourselves, it’s a good career, it’s more money, it’s prestigious, it’s what our parents want or a school favourite, it gives you more choice later. But when does later become too late? Now is the only time you have. You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. And what’s the point in having more choice if you never exercise your rights to choose? Ask yourself the question, do you really love what you do?
But it’s not easy to know what you want. I certainly didn’t. So how do you go about working it out? There are lots of generic tips. One article I liked advises you to think instead of what you want, what pain you are willing to suffer, if you’re reward for the work doesn’t outweigh your input then you will give up. But who wants to spend their time thinking about what they want to suffer and as soon as you can classify the work you invest into your goal as ‘a suffering’, you are finished. But it can help you identify things that perhaps you should think about giving up on, your dull job, your repetitive exercise regime, your stringent diet, your laborious relationship?!
After my stint as an athlete, I chose to make decisions based on what excites me.I feel so privileged to be doing what I do. Everyday I work on something I love, using the principles outlined above to encourage people to do something positive for their health. Rabble uses play to make exercise something people want to do, we eliminate the suffering.
My favourite piece of advice written on this subject is by Mark Manson (ok, his focus is on dating but I think it has much wider application). I hugely approve for two reasons, it uses explicit language and has a strong, simple principle:
‘If it’s not f*ck yes, it’s no.’
Which is why in January 2017, I’m far more likely to still be writing a blog than brushing my hair daily. Hair brushing is not a f*ck yes process, it’s dull and I’ve already almost failed multiple times (8 days in!). Whilst contrary to former school reports, I do actually like writing.
Think about your decisions, if what you’re doing is not f*ck yes, then it should be no.
Life is too short for the mediocre.