advice · fitness · motivation · training

Being willing to be bad at a thing

So whenever I’ve been interviewed about the blog or the book I co-wrote with Tracy one of the most common questions is about motivation. What do we have to say to someone who struggles with getting enough exercise, who wants to exercise but never manages to do it?

The two pieces of advice we most commonly give on the blog are START SMALL and FIND A PHYSICAL ACTIVITY YOU ENJOY.

I was happy to see a short piece this week with another bit of advice, LET YOURSELF BE BAD.

Christine Carter writes about her own experiences of planning to train for a half marathon but failing to get out the door.

Why did I skip exercise despite knowing all this?

The truth is our ability to follow through on our intentions — to get into a new habit like exercise or to change our behavior in any way — actually doesn’t depend on the reasons that we might do it or on the depth of our convictions to do it. It also doesn’t depend on our understanding of the benefits of a particular behavior, or even on the strength of our willpower.

Instead, it depends on our willingness to be badat our desired behavior.

And I hate being bad at stuff. I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal. I like being good at things, and I quit exercising because I wasn’t willing to be bad at it.

Here’s why we need to be willing to be bad. Being good requires that our effort and our motivation need to be equivalent. In other words, the harder a thing is for us to do, the more motivation we need to do that thing. And you might have noticed that motivation isn’t something we can always muster on command. Whether we like it or not, motivation comes and motivation goes. When motivation wanes, plenty of research shows that we humans tend to follow the law of the least effort and do the easiest thing.”

For me this was true of Aikido. I’m not good at Aikido. It doesn’t play to my strengths as a fitness activity. Accepting that and recognizing that I would never have a black belt or even a brown belt, was part of what allowed me to keep going. Aikido was good for me and my satisfaction in it couldn’t come from me excelling at it. I found other things to enjoy but I accepted I’d never be an Aikido rock star.

See the full story here:

Pink hearts on black background. Unsplash.

One thought on “Being willing to be bad at a thing

  1. I love this and realize that I have unknowingly internalized it. If I had to be good at everything I did I wouldn’t run at all! I have gotten slower and slower through the the pandemic and I have tried to shift my focus away from speed to just getting out the door and enjoying myself (or, if I’m not, keeping it short). Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

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