How exercise can shape your mind for change

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SUMMARY: 

A lot of people struggle with change. It is never easy changing anything in our lives. It has never been. We are too comfortable with the situation as it is and often don’t even attempt to change it. We are afraid to loose what we have, and we are also afraid of what we might get; the unknown on the other side.

 

But the biggest blocker for change is our deep seated fear that we won’t be able to do this, that we don’t believe that we can actually succeed. So we don’t even start.

 

In this video, I offer a way to overcome this blocker. I suggest to take the 5 most impactful factors for a successful change and train your mind on them. How? Indirectly, through rigorous exercise.

 

I propose that the habit of intense exercising can help you “practice” on those elements that make a change process successful and sustainable and rewire your mind to overcome self-doubt and fear.

 

Here are the 5 elements:

 

  1. It is very important for you to understand what person you need to become in order to successfully accomplish that change.
  2. There is no way that you can do something substantial on the side. You need to put it at the center of your attention and structure everything else around it.
  3. Small steps. You only can achieve anything big if you cut it into small bite-size pieces and tackle it one at a time.
  4. Personal growth and tapping into unknown resources. Seek the impossible. You will be able to tap into resources you didn’t know you had. You will be forced to do things you never thought possible.
  5. Always seek the help of others, seek the advice and support of others, seek the encouragement and inspiration and the sense of belonging with others. Use the community to make the change possible, to make the change stick, to make the change sustainable.

 

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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND QUOTES:

Hello everybody, it’s Tasso, and today’s post is all about making you fit for change.

It is never easy changing anything in our lives. It has never been. Our minds are just too comfortable with the current situation. And it makes sense, because evolutionary, over the last millions of years, our brains needed to become energy efficient. They needed to master the preservation of energy because it ensured our survival.

We get excited and hyped about something new very easily. That’s great for the brain, it always gets distracted by something new. But then once it deems it to be important and it turns it into some sort of automation and autopilot, then it’s very difficult to get out of it.

Why is it like this?

Well, it would make sense if you consider this from the following perspective: you believe that the things that you’ve done made you, you. These are the things that you know very well and you very often enjoy. And these are the things that you would be afraid to lose.

The second consideration could be that, if you embark on a change journey which normally is quite cumbersome and needs a lot of effort, you don’t know what’s going to be on the other side. You don’t know if it’s good enough and you don’t know if it’s better than what you have right now. So it’s very difficult for you to commit to this and embark on the journey.

Now, even if you know that on the other side it’s better, for instance, you can’t possibly argue that if you stop smoking you will feel better. You know that, you know how life’s going to be like. And you can’t argue that if you eat healthier, you’re going to feel much better, that if you lose some weight you’re going to be able to do many more things.

But still it’s not enough to pull you out of your current situation, and why is this?

I think it’s because we have, deep inside a remaining fear of, “we won’t be able to do this”, we don’t believe that we actually can do the change. This comes from multiple things. One of them will be that we failed in many of the things we tried, and so if you fail, you program your brain that change is something that you cannot do and it’s something that you sometimes better not even try.

We fear we won't be able to do this

 

Even if you have not failed at a particular thing, maybe you have seen others try and fail and then again you say to yourself that it will be a huge obstacle for you to even try and do the change.

So could be possibly a good way to overcome this?

The easiest would be if you do something that you have already done before, because that would give you the confidence of, “Okay, I’ve done it, I know how to do it, it’s going to be okay.”

But you can’t possibly run around life and duplicate things and run your life twice over, just for you to feel comfortable and feel the confidence that you need in order to do things. You will not do anything new.

So what is the alternative? Here is a question for you.

How would it be, if you would actually look at what change is requiring of you? What are the critical elements of change? What if you would find a way to manage those, to train yourself on those elements that are common to any kind of change? What if there would be a way to train your mind, to internalize those elements and make them part of you, to program your mind? How would it feel like? Would that not make it easier for you to change anything, in principle?

This is where I believe sports come into play. I believe sports can do this for you. You see, it’s not a coincidence or by accident, that in all these inspirational and motivational videos that you can find on YouTube, there is always 80% of athletes and sports imagery in there. Because this is what people can relate to. People understand that there is a lot of struggle with exercising and that you can get results rather fast. I think those fast results are a major element that helps. Sports can give you the confidence, it gives you that feedback loop that, you’ve tried something and succeeded, very fast and I believe that is something that can help shift your mind.

So in this post I’m going to share with you the five elements that I believe are relevant for every change. I will share with you some personal experience from sports to illustrate this, and hopefully make it clear how I believe sports can help you reprogram yourself in order to master any change.

 

Number one is about IDENTITY.

What do I mean by that? The person you are right now might not be able to do what you are about to do. The person you are right now will doubt a lot about your capabilities about doing this. But ask yourself the question, what person would be able to do that change? What person would be able to not only change, but to also sustain that change? What person do you need to become? What attitude, what mindset, what skills and capabilities in order to do that change?

Who do you need to become

 

Here is the illustration from sports. I’ve been doing for approximately one and a half years, something called Freeletics. Freeletics is a system of workouts with a virtual coach who puts exercises together for you in a very nice way. Different exercises and workouts based on your choice. You can indicate how often you want to train per week, and your goals, such as losing weight or building muscle. It’s a very individualized approach and I think it works very well.

Now throughout their communication, the Freeletics team on their website, in their application, have always emphasized two particular slogans. The first is “No excuses”, and the second is “Quitting is not an option.”

This is quite a substantial shift in your mind, you see, because you have to ask yourself the question, “Do I want to be a person who always finds excuses?” Or “Do I want to be the person who is a quitter? Do I want to be a quitter?”

Most probably your answer will be “no”.

Let me take a small detour and illustrate this for you with another example, a game that you might be very familiar with.

You might have come across that little game, sometimes used as an icebreaker, where you ask someone something and the person is not allowed to say “yes” or “no.” For instance you would be able to say something like, “How is the weather outside?” The person says, “It’s nice, it’s warm.” Then you say, “Do you plan to go outside?” The person says, “Yes.” — Loses.

Why?  Because in order to be successful in that game, you need to eliminate, “yes” or “no” from your vocabulary. You can do anything else except to say, “yes” or “no.”

It’s the same thing with “Quitting is not an option” in sport. You can do anything you want. You can take your time, it might take you an hour or a day. You can make a break in between. You can vomit, you can faint, but quitting is not an option.

Imagine an Excel sheet in which you have a drop down menu, that shows you all the options you have; but quitting is not one of them.

If you take this literally and you assume you can you can do everything, but quitting, then this is something that will prime your mind to do something very specifically.

Asking yourself the question, “Who do I need to become? What is the identity I need to have in order to succeed?” is something that will help you very much also in regards to the things that you might NOT want to do.

For instance, if you consider as change the promotion that you want, or a career change, and you ask yourself the question, “Is the person I need to become in order to get promoted, the person I want to become?”, then maybe the answer for you is, “no.”

Summing up, this identity piece is very important and, “not quitting” and “not finding excuses” are two particular traits for whomever wants to make a change. But there may be other things.

No excuses and no quitting

 

I used these two because you can train them through exercise, and because only if you don’t quit and if you don’t find excuses, will you be successful in sports.

 

Number two is about COMMITMENT. 

I will say this is very, very bluntly and I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new here. There is no way you can do any change in your life, if you treat the change in the way that you say, “I’m going to do this as soon as I have time.” You cannot possibly eat healthy if you’re not on a business trip. You cannot possibly lose weight and do sports regularly if you tell yourself, “I’m going to do this if I have some time” or “as soon as I’m back from work” and “if I’m in the mood after work.”

The only way for you to do a change and do sustainable changes, is if you put whatever you’re about to do in the center and you schedule everything else around it.  To start with, you need to prepare your mind by saying, “I WILL do it.”, no excuses like we said before. Then you actually need to schedule it and do it on a regular basis.

I’m going to give you an example here from Freeletics.

I mentioned before that in Freeletics you can choose the number of workouts you want to do. For instance, you can tell your virtual coach that you want to train two times a week or three times a week. However, every 15 weeks or so on a recurring basis, this virtual coach will throw a “hell week” at you. What does that mean? A “hell week” means two workouts per day for seven consecutive days.

You can imagine, that there’s no way you can do this on the side. You can never do this, if you have time. If you commit yourself to doing this, there is no other way than, putting it in the center of your attention and scheduling everything else around it. The way that I did it for instance, was that during this particular hell week, I was waking up at 5:00 AM every morning to do the first workout, so that I’d have time for the second workout at lunchtime or in the evening because I was not able to do everything in one roll. Some people are, but if you are a beginner you very likely are not.

This is what “commitment” is all about. This is what sport can do for you, because it teaches you this commitment. The only way you can be successful at sports is through this commitment, through putting whatever you’re about to do in the center and going through with it. It is the same thing that will help you with any change that you want to do in your life.

Put what to want in the center of your attention

 

Number three is about SMALL STEPS.

You will have heard about “small steps” as it is something very crucial as a concept to any change and any project that you want to do because we are discouraged very often by the size of a big project or the time it will take. And even by the fact that we don’t necessarily know all the little steps that we need to do in order to conclude the project.

One step at a time

 

But see, again like I said before this are all excuses. You don’t need to see the whole staircase in order to be able to take the first step. If you’re driving at night in the car you don’t need to see the whole street in order to come safely from A to B. You only need to see as far as the light shines, just the 50 meters and you will get very safely from A to B.

If you cut down any endeavor, any project into the small steps you will be able to master it.

Here is again an example from sports, from Freeletics. In Freeletics, there are small workouts that will take you about seven to ten minutes and there are big workouts with many repetitions of an exercise.

So you might be confronted with, I don’t know, a hundred sit-ups, a hundred pushups, a hundred burpees and there’s no way you can do these things without telling yourself, “I will take this ten at a time. I will make ten, I will take a small break, I will breathe, I will drink.” You cut it down in small manageable bite-sized portions and then you can do everything.

And again, sports is there just a way to show you that this is possible, to give you the quick wins and the quick results so that you prove yourself that it is actually possible.

 

Number four is about PERSONAL GROWTH and TAPPING INTO YOUR RESOURCES.

There is some sort of magic if you are confronted with something that you deem impossible and that you actually manage to do this. This is amazing; it makes click in your head. I don’t know, maybe some sort of neurological new connection, a very substantial shift, it opens up doors, it changes your whole personality.

Doing the impossible changes you

 

Life does this all the time. It throws these triggers at us. We call them “problems” when we’re confronted with something that we are scared of and we deem impossible to do. But these are things that are helping us to grow. I made a post on this topic and if you haven’t watched this please I encourage you to go and watch it. It’s about problems and how to see them also as opportunities for growth, opportunities for you to change something in your life.

As I said, life does this without us wanting it, but of course if you want to do a change intentionally then you have to confront yourself with these “impossible things”, then you need to do it yourself, you need to define things that you are scared of, you need to tackle them in order to grow.

I will give you again an example from Freeletics, the sport that I’ve been doing now for more than a year.

If you are a beginner at Freeletics, you will be able to do maybe 10 or 15 burpees. By the way I mentioned burpees here a lot, if you don’t know what burpees are I encourage you to go and have a look at Google or look them up on YouTube. It’s a very good exercise for the whole body; please have a look at them. But again in the beginning, it’s something that you are dreading. It’s something that you’re afraid of. You might be able to do 10 maybe 15 burpees.

But along the way, the coach will throw at you a workout with 100 burpees, 150 burpees or 200 burpees.  Now one way to tackle this is, as we said before, through the concept of small steps. So you cut it into bite size pieces and you tackle the whole work.

But at some point of time, you will mature, you will grow within this. You will start asking yourself the question, “How else could I do this? What else is important? What have I not considered here?  Should I actually revisit the way I breathe? Should I breathe when I go down or should I breathe when I jump up?”

Only outside the comfort zone

 

So you tap into resources that you didn’t need in fact to tap into before, because it was not something that actually put you out of your comfort zone. So if you confront yourself with something that is impossible, you are forced to do this.

And if you are forced to do this in a safe environment like through sports, you can prove to yourself that you can master this, that you can actually move forward with something like this. This will help you tackle and conquer any change in your life.

 

Number five in any change is about COMMUNITY.

I don’t think I will tell you anything new here, but rarely we do something on our own. We always need other people to do something that is substantial or meaningful. You need the community for several reasons; for one, you need them for encouragement because there are so many doubts along the way, there are so many obstacles we will face along the way. You need somebody to cheer you up, you need somebody to encourage you, to pull you out, to make you do things that you might at some point of time resist doing.

You need them for the inspiration. I made a post recently about the role models. I referred to the example of athletes; they show you what’s possible.

To use the example of Freeletics again, if you used to do a workout once, and you see the people in your community are doing it maybe three times, you all of a sudden see what’s possible. You don’t get discouraged and say, “Oh my God, I can only do it one time and they can do it three times.” No, you say to yourself, “Look, that is something I struggle with, but this is what’s possible. I can do this, too.” So they show you that it was possible, it’s an inspiration.

The other thing that the community does, is making you belong to something, making you feel the sense of belonging. And that is something crucial. It is something that we need as human beings, to feel that we belong to a part of the community. And this sense of belonging makes you even do things that you would even hate doing, just to belong to the community.

Community is key

 

I will give you an example. Once, the Freeletics team opened up a challenge and they asked their members (they have millions of members) to do burpees, so something that they actually dread and hate, in order to jointly accomplish 20 million of them, 20 million burpees in two weeks.

Every burpee that people did during a workout or even voluntarily counted in this challenge and I can tell you they manage to reach those 20 million burpees and they even exceeded this number. Why? Because people were willing to sacrifice their comfort and to do something they were even afraid of or didn’t like to do, just to have that sense of belonging.

And this is why I’m telling you that community has an immense importance for any change and sports and in particular team sports will help you internalize it. It will help you do it, succeeded at it, see the benefits of it and then basically use it at every other endeavor that you start and any other change you going to start. It’s going to make you more successful about it.

 

These were in summary the five elements of change which I believe sports can help you very much practice them, internalize them and reprogram your brain.

  • Number one was identity. It is very important for you to understand what person you need to become in order to successfully accomplish that change.
  • Number two was about commitment. There is no way that you can do something on the side. You need to put it at the center and structure everything else around it.
  • Number three was about small steps. You only can achieve anything big if you cut it into small bite-size pieces.
  • Number four was about the personal growth. Seek the impossible, train yourself, you can master it. Once you’ve done it, you will be able to do many, many, many more things. You will be able to tap into resources; you will be forced to do things you never thought possible.
  • Number five was around the community. Always seek the help of others, seek the advice and support of others, seek the encouragement and inspiration and the sense of belonging with others. Use the community to make the change possible, to make the change stick, to make the change sustainable.

 

I hope this helped you, I hope it served you. If you liked it, please subscribe. I wish you a great day, and until the next post, all the best.

 

 

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