You’ve decided you want to get in shape. Get a little fitter, healthier and stronger. Buff up and gain some muscle. Possibly even a six-pack. You head off to the local gym, sign on the dotted line, hand over some cash and then head straight home. You would have done a workout on the spot but it wasn’t really a good time. So the following day you get up, put on your new gym outfit – the one you bought on credit – and head off to the club. You arrive looking resplendent in your new workout gear. You put your valuables in a locker, pin your key to your shirt and head out on to the gym floor.
You look at all the bods in the gym sweating, grunting, pushing, panting and generally getting uncomfortable and to be honest, it really doesn’t look so appealing to you. The reality of exercise doesn’t seem nearly as much fun as the idea of it all. And if there’s one thing you like, it’s fun.
Strange people on strange equipment
You move around the gym looking curiously at the strange people on the strange equipment and nothing looks particularly enticing or enjoyable. In fact, it all looks a little uncomfortable and if there’s one thing you have an aversion to, it’s discomfort. Finally you find something which appeals to you; a weird-looking bike, with a back rest, arm rests and a built-in TV. Giddyup. Now you’re interested.
The first workout
You call over the gym dude with the big arms and little head and he shows you how to program a workout on the bike and more importantly, how to use the TV. You ignore the first part of the lesson but soak up the TV tutorial. While the multitudes sweat all around you, you stay focused on your wildlife documentary and use the pedals of the bike as nothing more than a lop-sided footstool. Literally. Not a single turn of the pedals, not a deviation of your heart rate and not a bead of sweat to be seen. Forty five minutes later your workout is done and you head back to the locker room. You return your key to reception, purchase a well-earned drink and wave goodbye to the staff at the front desk. You stride triumphantly to your car and wonder why you didn’t join a gym years ago; “It ain’t that hard”, you think to yourself.
Getting into a routine
You enjoy your workout so much that you decide to go five days a week. You create a little ritual for yourself. Same bike, same corner of the gym, same rewarding drink at the end of each session, and of course that same triumphant power-walk to the car.
After three months of toil you’re informed that you’re due for your re-assessment. The dude with the little head takes you into a pokey room with a bunch of weird looking gadgets and a plethora of indecipherable charts and tables on the wall. He pokes, prods, measures and weighs you. He looks somewhat concerned. He informs you that you’re fatter, heavier, weaker and less fit than when you started.
What? No results!
You’re disgusted and disillusioned. You can’t understand how going to the gym five days a week for three months can equate to such poor results. You tear up your membership card and you vow never to return to a gym. If only you had actually done something while you were there. If only you had got a little uncomfortable.
Now, I know watcha thinking: “as if anyone’s gonna do that!”
It ain’t just a silly story
Well you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that this story is a metaphor for way too many lives. Lives spent avoiding anything that looks like hard work or discomfort. Anything that might actually produce some quality results. Anything that might get people out of their secure, familiar little boxes. Anything that might cause them to learn, grow, adapt and change. Some people spend their life sitting on the comfy bike, resting their feet on the pedals (rather than turning them), watching the TV and wondering why they get zero results. Why they make no progress.
When it comes to achieving genuine personal growth and seeing real positive change in our world (as opposed to the all-too-common, short-term burst of motivation and temporary behavioural change), there’s a bunch of potential hurdles and obstacles that we need to negotiate and navigate our way around in order to create the new and improved version of us. There is however one standout at the very top of most ‘hurdles and obstacles’ lists…
We are comfort junkies!
Yep, being addicted to comfort can be somewhat problematic, if not catastrophic, for the wanna-be, modern-day success story. The truth is, if you’re not experiencing and dealing with pain, discomfort and fear on at least a semi-regular basis, you’re probably not learning, growing, changing, adapting and exploring your potential as you should be. If you’re all about personal growth, maximising your ability and positive change, then avoid the tough (uncomfortable, inconvenient, painful) stuff at your peril.
Life can be an amazing and incredible ride. It can also be a messy, unfair and uncomfortable place to be. It’s our classroom. It’s where we learn and grow – when we choose to pedal the bike. As I’ve said before, pain is one of our greatest teachers but we need to be willing students.
We don’t learn, grow, adapt and improve by gravitating towards all things safe, comfortable, familiar and convenient. No, we actually begin to develop and change for the better when we get off the couch, roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Some of us have been masters of avoidance for too long.
If you’ve been reclining on the comfy bike forever, then maybe it’s time for you to start pedalling.
If you’re serious about becoming the new-and-improved version of you, then stop looking for easy and start looking for effective. Don’t do what’s comfortable or convenient, do what works.