I almost gave up.
This week, in the gym, for cardio we had to do set of box jumps (I had to modify to step ups on a 16 in. box), knees to elbow (I had to modify and do hollow rocks) and American kettle bell swings: Sets of 18, 12, 9, 12, 18.
In the middle of this workout, I wanted to give up. I could barely breath and I was only half way through it. I was slow, the rest of the class was finishing, and I was only in the middle.
When I realized how much slower I was than the rest of the class, I told the trainer, “That’s it, I’m going to keep working out until 10 am and then I have to leave.” They can’t be mad if I have things to do, right?
We have no clocks in the gym. Just a timer that shows how long we’ve been doing the specific workout. I thought it was 5 minutes to 10 am. I didn’t want to look like a quitter. Going hard until the end of the hour looked better than giving up early. So, I decided, I’ll just go until time is up. Little did I know that “keep going ‘til 10 am” was enough time to finish the workout and stretch too!
My mind was blown that I finished way before 10 am. I was so proud that I finished, and so glad I didn’t give up when I wanted to. Grateful that the trainer saw I had plenty of time and just encouraged me to keep going until time was up (though she knew I had plenty of time).
If I had quit, I would have spent the rest of the day thinking about how I gave up. I would have wondered if I could have done more. I would have been disappointed, but I would have tried to be okay with the decision. I would have rationalized why giving up on that workout was the right thing to do that day.
Worse than that though, is that the next time I was faced with a situation in which I needed to either push through or quit, it would have been easier to give up because I’d allowed myself to give up before. I know this, because I’ve done it. Lots of people do.
Think about a diet. Most of us have been on one. We go strong for a few weeks then we think, “I’ll have one chip, one cookie, one piece of cake, or this one piece of candy and then, I’ll get back on track.” Next thing you know, a couple weeks have passed, and we’ve been having our cheat cookie, cake or candy every day several times a day. We’ve gained 15 lbs. and we are starting over.
While some people can get right back on track, most of us have a tough time getting back on track.
Our actions become our habits. We can have good habits, or we can have poor habits. Either way, our habits develop with every decision we make or every action we take.
As we make good decisions, it be easier and easier to make more good decisions. As we allow ourselves to make poor decisions, like giving up, not trying, or cutting corners, or making excuses, it become easier and easier to be okay with making more of those decisions too.
My boss knows this. He has high expectations for every single project or activity no matter how small. He does not tolerate anything less than the best. He demands attention to detail, and he absolutely hates it when people cut corners. I used to think he was unreasonable, but I see now that he knows that once you allow yourself to do less than your best, it becomes easier to do that again and again. Yet, if you pay attention to detail, give your all, and try to produce excellence, it becomes easier and easier to do that again and again as well.
I don’t want to be a quitter. I don’t want to form the habit of giving up. So, while one workout seems like a small thing, finishing was huge.
Next time, I’ll need to remember to shut up and not vocalize the idea that I might quit either. I need to just show up, do my best, and keep going until it’s done.
Looking back on past experiences, on situations I did give up on, I wonder what I could have accomplished if I had showed up, did my best and kept going until the I could it done. How much more could I have accomplished in my life if I had that mentality all my life? How much can I accomplish if I make sure to adopt these habits in life now?
Well now, I can’t get lost dwelling on the past. I can only do my best today, and tomorrow right? I can work on developing and choosing the types of habits I will nurture now: Good ones or bad ones.
What do you think? Have you experienced anything that made it easier to make more and more bad decisions or more and more good decisions? How much do you think forming habits has to do with it? Feel free to let me know what you think or share a story in comments. I’d love to hear about it.