What you don’t do matters more

by Jason on October 18, 2011 · 1 comment


A brief thought while watching the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this past weekend: fitness magazines focus on “do this” stuff.  Training programs, routines, and so on.  Most athletes, even elite ones, don’t do a lot to hide their regimen, and if you want to train exactly like someone else does, you can pretty easily do everything they do.


What’s not seen is what they don’t do.  If it is, it’s often in terms of the action, like “they don’t stay up until 1 in the morning” becomes “they go to bed at 10.”  The action is easier to imagine, but more importantly, there’s less of a concept of sacrifice.

The reality is, people who are successful in fitness, business, or other aspects of life often get there more by what they don’t do than what they do.  Achieving extraordinary results means more than just doing more than those around you; it means making a conscious decision not to engage in behaviours that others see as normal.  This is way harder, because as soon as the idea of not doing something comes into your head, the lizard brain kicks in and tries desperately to hold on to whatever it is.

There are various tricks to help with this, like overloading your routine with new stuff so you don’t have time, energy, or other resources to do the things you need to stop.  You can also work to hang around other people who’ve already recognized certain behaviours as things that take them away from their goal, which is a common recommendation, and a powerful idea, but even that brings up sacrifice in that you need to stop associating with people who follow the common path.

This is part of the loneliness of success, which is a whole other topic that’s possibly avoidable.  To begin with though, you need to start thinking about the “stop doing” list before you add more to the todo list.

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