So June 6th is National Yo-Yo Day – in the US at least. If you can handle one of those things and do all those fancy tricks (not me) then today is your day! For me, the word “yo-yo” is forever associated with dieting and it’s also a pretty fair description of how I run my business. Bursts of commitment and enthusiasm followed by periods of “meh” are just not enough to maintain the results I want for my health and business.
I can be capable of extreme discipline and dedication to a cause, but boy can I drift! Once I hit target weight, I relax…with the inevitable consequences. In my business I am full of great ideas and plans. I go all out to implement them but am then distracted by the shiny or bored by the technical.
I recently re-read James Clear’s Atomic Habits and whilst I kind of knew this stuff, I have only recently come to truly accept the implications and adapt my behaviours accordingly;
“Success is the product of daily habits— not once-in-a-lifetime transformations – James Clear
Clear points out that having grand plans and aspirations is all well and good but you need the means to get there. He says;
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Building and sustaining a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. I wouldn’t expect to run a marathon having abandoned the training half through. I wouldn’t expect to complete if I didn’t keep putting one foot in front of another until I crossed the finish line. Curious then, that I should run my business and manage my weight as if an initial burst of effort could build sufficient momentum to see me through.
Whilst pondering how I could best embrace Clear’s message in my daily life, I came across Michael Brody-Waite’s ‘Great leaders Live Like Drug Addicts’. Brody-Waite describes three principles that recovering drug addicts (and in his view also great leaders) live by:
- Rigorous authenticity
- Surrender the outcomes
- Do the uncomfortable work
The concept of “rigorous authenticity” really hit home. Being honest with myself every day and in every hour would make a huge difference. Am I tired or bored? Truly hungry or looking for a break? Just how important are my goals? Important enough to the work or now? If not, why not do something else?
But then there’s the work itself. The work can be uncomfortable. Running a business takes you out of your comfort zone, and there is often a lot of what I find boring and mundane admin bits. Being fit and healthy means having to move, push yourself out for a run when its hot or cold or raining, and live with some hunger. However, if I want the results, I have to do what it takes. The results should then take care of themselves. I don’t have to think about them.
What I am doing differently
As a project manager, I used to argue that a plan can be liberating rather than constraining. When you have done the thinking upfront, you know what you need to do each day. No more thinking required! So rather than seeing planning as a chore, I have accepted that idea and now look on planning and tracking my activity as liberating and rewarding.
The diet and exercise targets are written down in my daily affirmations which also include the commitment to place my health and fitness at the centre of my daily plan. I plan my exercise for the day, and the week, and work to a calorie limit. I write everything down. I have an implementation intention which goes like this. IF I feel hungry between meals, I will drink a glass of water, THEN if I am still hungry after 15 minutes I will have a prescribed snack. I have to be genuinely hungry and not peckish or bored. That honesty thing again.
Where work is concerned, I have a 3 month high level plan with the current month broken down into weekly to dos. I consult these each day and have a daily tracker for routine tasks. This stops me drifting through the week or just doing what I feel like doing rather than what I need to get done. My affirmations include the commitment to getting the right things done and this quote:
“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream”. – Peter McWilliams
I can abandon my systems and go back to yo-yoing the moment I decide that my health and business goals are no longer important to me. Until then, all I have to do is follow through, day by day, whether I am comfortable or not. As I am still me – a butterfly brain who loves her grub – I have committed to this approach for just 30 days to start with. 30 days is more than a sprint. It should be long enough to start becoming the sort of person who has discipline and sticks to her plans.
“ Success is nothing more than a few disciplines practiced every day.” – Jim Rohn
I am aiming for progress not perfection. I am only a few days into my challenge and as I write this, I am feeling uncomfortable because I am bloody hungry but you know what? I am rather enjoying this approach. I feel in control, professional and can finish the day feeling good about myself and my efforts. Just as well as I could never master the YoYo!.
How about you?
Are you a yo-yoer in business? If you need help leaving the yo-yo in the toy box so you can achieve lasting business success, why not have a chat with me? I have a range of packages but a power hour is just £120 and could be just the kickstart you need to get authentic with your goals or put the right systems in place. Just don’t ask me to teach to you to yo-yo!
*unless you invented it of course.
Clear, James. ‘Atomic Habits, an easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones’ Random House.
Brody-Waite, Michael. Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts: How to Lead Like Your Life Depends on It, Forefront Books. See also his TED talk for an introduction to him and the ideas in the book.