In this article I'd like to talk about a powerful philosophy I’ve adopted recently. I'd also like to talk about how the underlying concept of this philosophy has spread into other areas of my life.
The philosophy is very simple “let's see what I can do”… I'm sorry if I gave away the surprise in the title!
Beforehand, I approached my training with the attitude of “I have to do this”, “I must do this”, “I need to beat my previous best” and so forth. In terms of pushing myself to get things done, it was certainly an effective for a while. I mean I burned off my first 50lbs of body fat using this attitude. Nevertheless, I've come to realise that forcing harmony only lasts for so long and eventually something breaks.
I HAVE To Do This
“I MUST”, “I NEED TO” and “I HAVE TO” takes away the feeling of choice, and when I feel like I have no choice, it's only a matter of time before I begin to resist or reject a forced action. Even if it's a forced action that will ultimately benefit me, something internally rebels against the prospect of having no choice. In any case, my new approach of “let's see what I can do” has proved to be extremely effective with my mindset.
While weight training, I'll start by warming up with relatively light weights. I then progressively increase until I reach my working sets. These are the sets in which I push myself and do everything within my power to beat my previous bests, these are the sets that really count.
When I held my old attitude, I would take a look at the reps and weights used in my last session, then say to myself “okay I HAVE to beat that”. Over time, however, I'd look at how far I'd come and would think “how am I supposed to beat that!", then I'd remember how much it hurt last time! This translated into doubt, fear and resistance.
Now when I step up to complete my working sets, I no longer think “I did 8 reps last time, I must do at least 9 this time”. Instead, I think “let's see what I can do” and focus on the form of each rep, which means I no longer limit myself to an arbitrary number, or use sloppy form just to hit a number. I give myself the freedom to choose how much I do and how far I push myself. When I hit my “wall” during a set, I repeat my mantra over and over which focuses my mind on how I love challenging myself, as opposed to how I hate forcing myself and feeling like I have no choice.
This shift in mindset has helped me to exceed a lot of personal challenges and personal bests. Ultimately, this is all about feeling in control and that I have a choice, even if that choice is an illusion. I love training hard and I love challenging myself, but feeling like I HAVE to challenge myself makes it a chore!
When it comes to training I believe that if something doesn't really challenge you, it doesn't really change you. "Let's see what I can do" is about freedom, so I can choose to stay in my comfort zone or I can choose to push my limits. I choose to push my limits because I love challenging myself… if you don't love challenging yourself, then adopting a similar approach may just give you an excuse not to push yourself.
Whenever I use the “let's see what I can do” approach, I find it vital to focus on the task at hand. If thoughts such as “I've got another exercise after this, I won't have enough energy left” pop up, then I need to clear my mind and focus only on what's in front of me.
This way of thinking has spread into a few other areas of my life, even article writing. When I thought that I MUST write X number of articles today, I would procrastinate and do everything within my power not to get started. The thing is, I love writing, I just don't like the feeling of being forced to do it. However, when I open up a word document and say “let's see what I can do”, I can write for hours and enjoy every second of it… simply because I feel like I'm choosing to write.