I recently came back to a wonderful habit of attending our gym during a lunch break at work. Due to personal reasons, I couldn’t use it for about 2 months, and it feels great to be back. What’s even better is that I had no struggle with getting back into the routine – everything happened in a very smooth and natural way.
There are few reasons making this comeback a success, and I just wanted to write them down for you, as they are universal and can be applied to almost any habit you’re trying to work out or get rid of.
Pain and pleasure
According to Tony Robbins, anything we do is motivated by pain and pleasure. No matter what we’re trying to do in our lives, we’re doing this to either avoid pain or to gain pleasure.
As simple and obvious as it sounds to me now, it was quite a revelation when I read his theory on this just a few months ago. And it still surprises me to see how universal this rule of pain and pleasure really is. It applies to everything we do or plan to do, and it’s possible to explain any action of ours by simply pointing to the pain or pleasure which motivated us to act.
What also was noticed by Tony is that we’re somehow much more motivated by pain than by pleasure. In other words, we’ll be willing to do much more in order to escape some pain than we’ll do to gain some pleasure.
So, one of the reasons my gym comeback is so easy, is simply because I got used to a habit of working out so much (I’ve been doing it for pretty much the past 6 month before I had to abandon the habit), that it gives me a great pleasure to work out. And it’s also almost physically painful not to work out, because my muscles are not getting the usual strain and I’m not feeling as fit as I’m used to unless I regularly work out.
My pain and pleasure motivations are clear to me. Here they are:
Pain of not going to gym:
- gaining excessive weight
- losing my usually high energy levels
- not giving my body the much needed work out
Pleasure of attending gym:
- staying fit and gradually getting into my best shape
- growing strenght and improving my stamina
- enjoying the high energy levels- being more productive during the day
These are just a few, the actual list of my pain and pleasure motivations for attending gym is much longer.
Establish associations properly
With habits, it is especially important to stay conscious of your painful and pleasurable aspects associated with them. The key to successfully mastering a particular habit is to place the right pain and pleasure motivation associations around it.
To fully control your habit, it is absolutely crucial to have both pain and pleasure associations related to it, this way you’re doubling the chance of success by gaining the advantage of being motivated by both pain and pleasure.
Take a few minutes of your time and write down all the good reasons for gaining a particular habit, making note of every little association you can come up with. Go wild! Extrapolate the results you’re going to get by following through with the habit, and imagine what you’re going to feel like 5 or 10 years later if your habit is successfully mastered. Make sure you don’t rush your thoughts and very carefully select every motivating reason.
Now, take even more time to write down all the negative impact you’ll see by not following through with this habit. Note the first and most important few things which come up when you’re thinking of the habit, and then gradually work your way down to the tiniest painful details of how not having a habit in your life might turn out. Again, thinking far in the future will greatly help.
It was very easy for me to start my gym sessions this time around, because I have all the proper associations already in place. Here are just a few of them:
- equals immediate pleasure, health improvement, higher energy levels and better productivity in other activities
- give me a joy of knowing I’m in a full control over my body weight
- means getting closer to my ideal shape every day
NOT working out:
- equals slow degradation of my health, lower energy levels
- equals pain of not being able to control my weight
- adds up to a list of habits I’m quite capable of mastering but still haven’t
Know exactly what you want
It will only help if you have a list of goals related to each habit you’re working on, so that you can constantly and regularly review them and see whether you’re moving off course or still following the original plan of yours.
With working out, it’s dead simple to establish just the goals you need. Read some appropriate literature, talk to your instructor and write down a thorough plan for your training. Everything is quite measurable, so you’ll have no problem getting your expectations in a form of how many minutes you should spend warming up or doing cardio, how many sets and reps of a particular exercise you’ll do, etc. And once there is a through plan, it will be easier for you to stick to it by just reviewing it as often as you feel necessary to ensure you’re making progress.
Mastering habits isn’t easy, but knowing simple principles I’ve explained above is bound to simplify the process for you. Pain and pleasure can be very motivating, and so it is only natural that you improve your chances of success by employing the appopriate accociations.