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Start Small; Start NOW | Dean Pohlman

Hey guys. It’s Dean, welcome to the Better Man podcast. Today’s a solar episode and I’m going to talk about a trap that many of us fall to. I would say most of us fall into in the fitness world, but also outside of fitness world in the rest of our lives. And the trap that I’m talking about is putting things off until a better time.

So waiting to start something, waiting to do something that you know is going to help, but putting it off into some important event is finished or something that’s currently going on is no longer as busy as it is. And this is a trap because life never really stops throwing things at you. You will never have the perfect time to start.

There were always be things that replace whatever you are currently doing or whatever you’re currently going through right now. And this is something that I’ve experienced a lot in my own life. I’ve said things like, I’m going to wait until our baby gets a little bit older and then I’ll start doing this, or I’m going to wait until all, you know, I finish this one big project with man flow yoga until I start doing doing my day to day activities differently.

And so it’s something that I have done over and over again. And eventually I realized that there is never going to be a perfect time for me to get started, for me to start doing things the way that I want to. And so the alternative, the way that you start to do this is to start. Start small, but start now.

Figure out what is the smallest version of whatever this habit is, whatever this activity is that I want to start doing on a regular basis and start doing it now. So this is something that, you know, I’ve read a couple books on this that are really good at talking about this, this idea in particular, Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg is a really good one for this.

But I’ll give you three examples right now to kind of give you an idea of what this looks like. So if you want to start a morning yoga practice, instead of committing to a 45 or a 60 minute yoga session every morning, you’re going to start by just getting on your yoga mat. So the only habit that you have to do is to roll out your mat to set it up however you do yoga and then to stand on your mat and that’s all you do.

And what you’re doing is you’re training, repetition. So you are doing the smallest version of whatever the habit is that you want to do, and you’re starting to build the foundation of that habit. And this is something that I talk about a lot because it’s important and, you know, it’s tempting to find like a different solution or something that’s sexy or something that’s more exciting.

But really, this is how habits are formed. This is what works. So you want to find that smallest version of whatever it is that you want to do, and you don’t want to worry about whether or not you’re getting the intended benefits because you can’t get those benefits unless you build the foundation to begin with. So if you’re going into this saying, I’m going to do, you know, I’m going to stand on my yoga mat and I’m going to expect that this is going to achieve all of my fitness goals and, you know, it’s not going to.

But what you are doing is you’re setting up the habits, you’re setting up the consistency that’s going to allow you to achieve those goals. So and that’s also important because we want to make sure that the that the destination that you’re trying to reach is is set up by a path that’s sustainable to get there. Right. So you want if your goal is to well, let’s say you want to lose £20 and you want to look better in the mirror or let’s say you want to start eating healthier and you want to have 80% of your meals to be healthy meals 20% you don’t worry about.

And the way to get there again is by doing it small and then also making it sustainable. So something that you can continue to do for as long as you want to keep doing this. You don’t want to do it as a means to an end. You’re not trying. It’s not a sprint. You’re not trying to just do 30 days of it and then finish.

You want to do this in a way where you’re slowly changing your life in a way that’s adaptable, that’s manageable, and then, you know, six months, maybe a year from now. Now you’ve got this entirely different lifestyle, but it doesn’t feel like a chore. It doesn’t feel difficult because you made changes slowly and sustainably. So that’s why it’s really important.

Another example here is running. So if you want to start a running habit instead of committing to, I’m going to go run a mile every day as soon as I wake up. Instead, what you’re going to do is you are going to go put on your running shoes. You’re going to go stand on your treadmill or stand outside, whatever it is, and then that’s it.

That is the bare minimum. And if you do that, then you’ve done what you need to do. You’ve done at the goal for the day. Anything beyond that is extra credit. And again, what you’re doing here is building the foundation of that habit. You can’t go running for one or two miles or five miles unless you wake up and you put your running shoes on and you get to wherever it is that you’re running.

If you want to at that point, do some more than you can. But it shouldn’t feel like a significant amount of effort. And if you do put in a significant amount of effort, you really want to make sure that you celebrate the you celebrate that effort immediately after it’s finished. Celebration is a really important part of locking in habits.

This is a thing that’s going to pour gasoline on the fire of building a new habit, so to speak, and it feels really silly at first, but honestly, being uncomfortable, you know, there’s this there’s this big phrase, right, that, you know, you want to get comfortable doing things that are uncomfortable and that applies to things outside of difficult workouts that applies to things like leaning into emotions that are that are uncomfortable, that applies to things like having conversations that make you vulnerable and also applies to doing things that might make you feel silly.

So if that means affirmations, if that means practicing gratitude, if that feels silly to you, those are things that we know work well. So those are things that are also uncomfortable that you should lean into. And so celebration is one thing that, you know, I initially felt like, oh, this is silly, I don’t want to do this. But celebration is actually a really good way to lock in habits, because what you’re doing is you’re retraining your brain to associate the feeling of celebration with whatever activity preceded it.

So if you are doing a new habit and you exert a lot of effort, you need to celebrate that. You need to lock that in. You need to make your brain realize that the effort was worth it by celebrating. So celebrating for you could be raising your arms in the air and saying, Yeah, or it could be jumping up and down.

Maybe it means doing a little victory dance, whatever it is. But you want to do that little celebration immediately after you finish whatever this activity is or this habit that you’re trying to lock in. And very important that you make a big celebration. If you put in a big amount of effort, again, it might feel a little silly, but these are things that are going to help.

Third example I want to give you is something from my own life and this is the idea of journaling or reflection. So, you know, I think when I and I’ve gone through this a lot of different variations of this, but I’ve set goals where, okay, I’m going to do 30 days, where I do one page in my notebook every night.

And that’s I’ve been able to do that. I’ve been able to crank that out for 30 days. But something that has that was easier to do and I has that. I’ve been more successful at being consistently in a long term is just writing, writing down one thing, writing down one thing that wasn’t good, writing, winding down that one good thing, and then writing down one bad thing.

So instead of making okay, I’ve got to write an entire page in my notebook, I’m just writing one thing that went good and one thing that went bad. And from that I’ve actually been able to build on that significantly. So now instead of just saying one thing that one good and one thing that made it bad, I also talk about what I’m grateful for.

I talk about something specifically from my relationship that I’m grateful for. I talk about something specifically from my interactions with my children that I’m grateful for. I can also I also write about what I’m feeling, How did I feel that day? So I’ve been able to build off of that initial prompt and put all these other things into that journaling habit that make it much more effective than it was originally.

But in order for me to get to that point, I had to start small. I had to do something that had a little a small amount of effort involved, something that felt manageable, something that didn’t feel like a chore and then I built on it from there. Once I realized, Hey, I actually feel a lot better when I write down one thing that went well and one thing that didn’t go well.

Every day. So I did that for two weeks and I was like, Hey, I think this is I feel better doing this. Let’s build this habit, let’s grow it. Because I had motivation to do it. It didn’t feel like I was working. It didn’t feel like I was had to make an extra effort to do it. It was something that I wanted to do.

So that’s the third example here is to make sure if this journaling example for me, but it is again that the theme is the same starting small, doing something manageable, and then building on that with time. But we need to make sure that we take that first step in order to do this. If you are waiting until you know the future to do it, if you’re saying I’m going to wait until after Labor Day to do this, or I’m going to wait until school starts again, or I’m going to wait until things settle down with work.

It’s a trap. It is a trap. It is a trap. It is a trap. You need to figure out, how can I start doing this now? Where will it fit into my life in a reasonable way? And what’s the smallest version of that habit that I can do and start doing it now? All right, so let’s apply this demand for yoga.

Let’s say that you’re you know, you want to be more consistent with the workouts, but you’re struggling to find the time to do it. So I want you to figure out, okay, realistically, let’s look at my schedule. Let me look at my schedule for from the last two weeks. What is the time that I realistically feel like I can do this?

I also want to choose a time that I feel like I have a decent level of energy to be able to do this. Because if you’re choosing a time in the afternoon when you’re tired, you don’t have anything going on but you’re tired, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to be able to lock in that habit. So you do you want to choose a time when you feel like you’re motivated to do something and you also want to choose a time that is realistic with your schedule.

So and when we start that, like I like I said, we don’t have to commit to the entire workout. We’re just going to commit to putting it on. We’re going to commit to putting that video on watching it however you want to watch it. If you’re on your TV, if you’re on your phone, your tablet, you’re broadcasting it to a smart, whatever it is, you’re putting that workout on, you’re stepping onto your yoga mat, you’re going to press play on the video and you’re going to do as much as you feel like if that means you watch the intro and then you step off the mat and you’re done for the day, that’s fine.

That is perfect because we’re building that repetition, we’re building that habit. So again, it’s not important that you’re doing the end goal or the the final iteration of whatever habit it is that you want to establish. What is important is that you’re doing some form of that habit, no matter how small, but doing that consistently and not putting it off to the uncertain future, but starting it now.

And the last thing that I want to mention here is this misconception that motivation is what inspires action. You need to reframe that conception instead to think action inspires motivation. Okay, Action inspires motivation. So you need to take action in order for you to experience motivation. It’s not the other way around. If we’re sitting around waiting for motivation to strike, it’s not going to happen that often.

Maybe if you have some caffeine or you watch a motivational video on YouTube, you might get it. But action is what consistently leads to more motivation. So you need to take that action and you don’t want to you don’t need to be motivated to do your workouts. You don’t need to feel excited to do your workouts. You don’t need to feel excited, eat healthy.

These are things that you do because you know they’re important to you. So this idea that we should be excited and we should be motivated to do things is no, you should do. You don’t need to be. It’s motivation is fickle. It’ll be there one day and it won’t be there the next. The reason why you do these things is because they are important to you.

They are important to your overall goals. They’re important to what you want to get out of life. They’re important. Important to who you want to be, who you want to see yourself as. And that’s why you do these things on a consistent basis. That’s why you’re doing these habits. So you need to remember. And if you don’t know what that what those reasons are, that’s when you gain clarity on these things.

You know, I’ve seen a lot of people say, you know, I’m doing this because I want to be healthier. Like, why do you but why do you want to be healthier? You know, let’s get to the bottom of that. I want to be healthier because because because I know what’s good for me. Well, that’s not a good enough reason.

What’s the real reason here? And then you peel back the layers and you realize that someone is I’m afraid of dying if I don’t get my act together, if I don’t start living a healthier life, I might die. Wow. Great. Now we have some really solid motivation, but you need to figure out what that is. And then if you can tie that motivation back to whatever these habits are that you’re trying to establish, that’s where you’re going to find a bit more success rather than having these vague ideas of This is good for me, You’re tying it into that emotional, deeply personal intrinsic motivation that’s going to help you make sure that you’re actually doing

those things that you want to do to live that healthy lifestyle, to achieve those goals, whatever it is. And again, you want to start now. You don’t want to put this off until the uncertain future. Start small, but start now. And don’t wait for motivation. Action inspires motivation, not the other way around. So you take action. Motivation will follow.

You don’t have to feel motivated to do something. You don’t have to be excited to do something. All right, guys, That’s what I’ve got for you today. Thank you for listening. Next episode, I’m going to be talking about why your motivation is not a factor when it comes to you living a healthy lifestyle, working out consistently, and why?

Instead, you should be focused on setting up systems that’s going to come out two weeks from now, as is the relate of this podcast episode. And next week you’re going to hear about the importance of resistance training as we age. I have a really cool guest coming on to discuss that. He’s also come up with a online in an online in real time group training program that makes it feel like you’re in person, but you don’t actually have to leave your house.

So it’s a really cool way for you to exercise. But we’re really going to be focusing on the importance of resistance training as you get older. So for those of you guys who have been shying away from weights, you don’t have to lift heavy weights or go to the gym to do resistance training. So we’re going to talk about that in next week’s episode.

As always, guys, if you are enjoying this episode, please help support this podcast. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify, and you can also listen to this ad or listen to this podcast ad Free in the Man for Yoga members area and App. You can learn more and sign up for a free seven day trial at mental yoga dot com slash join.

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C Okay guys, thanks for listening to this episode. Hope you got a lot out of it and I’ll see you on the next one.

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