“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” – Mark Twain
Do the same things, you can expect the same results.
You’ve probably heard Einstein’s expression – “Insanity = Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
Since it came from a smart person…that makes it true, right?
Continual action sounds more like persistence, but in the context of improvement it’s simply ineffective.
Whether it be athletic performance, personal improvement, business, or life – I’ve yet to meet someone satisfied with the status quo. Every thing wants (and has the potential!) to be better, more effective, more enjoyable, more productive, and more profitable. Nevertheless, many of us seeking improvement continue doing the same thing we’ve done and just hope for a different result – insanity right?
How is this done in sports? When does improvement stop?
It’s fun to wonder – how long can athletes like swimmers continue to drop time? How much faster can we run a marathon? Eventually we can’t blink and be at the finish line, so when does it stop?
Competitive athletes reach the point at which they are willing to make any sacrifice for that inch of improvement. However, that “anything” is usually restricted by the ‘same-ol’, traditional norms that they’ve been taught.
These are the two hardest times to make improvements –
1. Getting started (my NY resolution folks)
2. Improving after ‘exhausting the limits’ (competitive athletes, professionals)
These two circumstances are also the most optimal for achieving improvements. Why?
They both hold the key to breakthrough:
Doing what you’ve never done before
What are you doing this week that you’ve never done before? How are you changing things up? Keep it fun, keep improving!
You can experiment for yourself, or finish reading how here.
The discomfort, unfamiliarity, and risk of failure is trumped by the possibilities of success – explaining why we almost always neurotically continue. The journey is easy when you are reaping the benefits and riding the wave of success, but what happens when you are continually knocked down? When discouragement sets in and failure arises. When you invest every ounce and nothing is worthwhile. That time, money, energy put into your passion makes you question if it was a waste.
The balance between persistence and change is hard – but they actually co-exist.
Grow in a different way.
What does that mean?
Doing the same exercise over and over again until you get injured Becoming frustrated and doubtful Following what works for everyone else
- Trying something new
- Recognizing the gains
- Trusting in the process and yourself
The most successful start to a new exercise regimen or habit is beginning with something you enjoy. Why do we change this approach to grinding out 30+ hours of training a week?
If we don’t make room for the things that are enjoyable (like this!) – it’s not sustainable. You need to either be 1. Having fun or 2. Improving
Our training model reflecting this relationship -“The fastest swimmers have the most fun”
Grinding out work is exhilarating when you recognize the momentous gains and enjoy the process. That moment when you learn a new skill, laugh with your training partner, make something a little tastier than before, feel better after a workout – it’s essential we pause and recognize the moments that make it all worth while – the tiny joys that are found in the fun, impressionable memories along the way.
As for improvements – we are made to think they are limited to gains in physique, finances, or championship performances. Don’t overlook the improvements found in the mundane but critical – sleep, nutrition, practice, attitude, and beyond.
Meanwhile, there are inner processes occurring:
- Physiologically, if you dig into the science of exercise performance improvements – countless changes are happening. In a 10-year, longitudinal study on a world-record marathon runner, many physiological factors were tested, and many changes occurred. The vast data pointed to the runner’s profound improvement in running economy as the key to her performance improvements. This is impossible to contribute to any single physiological adaptation considering all the changes she was making…but maybe that’s the point – for 10 years she continued changing, stressing and improving different systems more efficiently: more rest, quality over quantity, resistance training, periodization, better nutrition – all values COR emphasizes. There is no single change to credit her success. All we know is that we must mix things up…and there’s a science to doing that most effectively!
- Approach: If you aren’t satisfied, maybe it’s time to look inward: Are you doing the same ineffective things over and over? Going to the gym and frustrated with the lack of results? Are you waiting for the circumstance to change? Or maybe the people around you?
- You: If you’re stuck in a pattern that’s not getting you what you want, then it’s time to change the pattern. Which means changing the only part of the situation you have control over – you.
Instead of waiting for the circumstances to change, you must change them yourself. Don’t wait for a better future, create you own.
There is no specific list of tasks to becoming successful. Success isn’t formulaic. It’s personal. Studying a field that educates on the countless factors differentiating each individual human, I’ve learned to appreciate this. It’s not something that overwhelms me with impossibility of a formal answer – instead it provides a palette to pull from and inspiration to design the optimal personal experience catered to an individual.
We are unique. Not only in our inherent physiology and genetics but throw in our experiences, environment, and lifestyle – you’d think it would be impossible to know how to help others. Instead, you need someone who understands all these factors and YOU. Part of what makes success special is the personality you infuse into why and how you do what you do. Stop looking for the prescribed set of answers. Success is creating your own habits. Personalizing it to YOU.
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Written by Amanda Presgraves. Amanda is a senior Kinesiology major, Division I student-athlete and entrepreneur at James Madison University. As an advocate of health and personal growth, she’s on a constant pursuit to optimize life and inspire others through her commitment to healthy living. If you can’t find Amanda bouncing between the classroom, pool, kitchen, or volunteering, you can find her online as she continues to lead and motivate others towards a happier and improved life at COR through her article contributions, newsletters and community motivation. (@amandapgraves, linkedin).