I pulled myself out of bed on the 26th with thoughts of improvement and New Year's promises. I had been crushing my training & eating as of late, and yesterday, I decided to abandon it. I ate way too much and drank beyond my means and was feeling it. I fired up my espresso machine and reflected.
A prominent fictional figure was quoted as saying, “Self-improvement is masturbation. Now self-destruction… “
Is this accurate? Is self-improvement just masturbation?
Yes. Tyler was right.
As I see it, self-improvement is just self-gratification. The hope of improving upon physical, mental or emotional traits by making a New Year’s promise is jerking off, and while pleasurable, a waste of time. New Year's promises are a tactic to protect our fragile ego from our own shortcomings. It is very difficult to come to grips that same lack of progress we made in 2010 is going to haunt us in 2011. So we take the opportunity to make steadfast promises at begin each year so we can begin the fight with a feeling of renewal, optimism. Nothing wrong with starting on the right foot.
“I am getting in shape this year” is probably the most common New Year's promise, followed closely by learning to speak a foreign language and meeting someone special.
*If you are involved with running a gym you start hearing these sentiments as early as Thanksgiving. The prospective client that shows up in November and December asking questions and telling you they are getting ready to start January 1. They are always "getting ready to get ready" to start. They always have an excuse why they can't start today and rarely ever come back.
If I had to bet, I would wager that 99% of New Year's resolution get abandoned within the first 3 days of the New Year. This leaves .9% of the population an additional day or two to think about their promise before leaving it behind for greener pastures.
Since 99.9% of people do fail, what could they do different?
Could there be a secret to keeping and fulfilling promises?
Yes. Don’t make them. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
And since we agreed, “Self-improvement is masturbation", this leaves us with self-destruction…
Cultivate mental and physical toughness by hammering ourselves on the anvil of hard training and venturing the road less traveled. By traversing difficult terrain we find ourselves in that break to create mindset. Instead of making a promise and wishing to better ourselves, turn in the opposite direction.
Every time I walked on the field or in to the gym I have a singular goal to get better. I never wanted to just hit the gym for a “workout”, it was always a specific task, “get stronger…get faster…increase flexibility…get healthy”. In actuality, it should have been "today at the gym, I am going to make myself worse."
However, I knew I did not get stronger in the weight room. My job was to break my muscles down so when I went home I could rest, eat and recover. The adaptation of strength, muscle and endurance are a result of hard training and proper recovery.
I recently wrote a lengthy piece on Regeneration because it is so important. If you do not do the little things to increase recovery, the ability to get bigger and stronger is slowed to a stand still. However, for full recovery to be necessary and effective we need to break ourselves.
Ask these questions…
What are the tasks you will employe to destroy your fragile self?
How will you build to break?
I have one painful goal for 2011…to increase flexibility. And I know increased flexibility only comes with constant vigilance and discomfort. So in addition to my normal training I will supplement yoga and martial arts, and hopefully a smaller version of myself. By increasing strength and adding new elements of flexibility and movement I begin my path of self destruction.