Performance Mindset: The Goldilocks Rule
Not too cold, not too hot, just right.
Get up. Pack your gym bag. Choose the apple not the chips. All of these actions are examples of behavioral change. They are are the small, but foundational, changes in our behavior that make the difference, and build the systems that ultimately lead us where we want to be.
Finding the right changes, changes everything.
Not too little, not too much, just right.
You're building new small habits that are easy to do, but just as easy not to do. This is why it's so hard in the beginning to create change--because you're changing daily behaviors that you've previously engrained into your routine. And these small changes, chosen deliberately, can make all the difference.
The first few months of this year we’ve focused in on the compounding interest of your habits and how they grow over time to create a better you. We’ve discussed the importance of dissecting your days and weeks through journaling, the powerful effect of reflection, and about how showing up consistent daily effort engenders better long-term results. Taken together, they create “just right”- the climate necessary for building a better and more confident you.
The Goldilocks Rule: Humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. I picked up this rule from James Clear’s “Atomic Habits”.
Therefore, to walk that edge, and to reach our goals, we need a very specific climate to produce success-not too hard, not too easy, just right…on the edge - but, how do you know if you’re on that edge?
The good news is that there’s a way to measure how close we are to that edge. We can use our daily habits. As with any precise measurement, there’s a delicate balance to our habits. Too much too soon and progress stops before it ever really had chance to get started. The brain and body can only handle so much at one time to keep progressing, so be patient. On the other end of the spectrum, we find that a lack of stimulation or challenge leads to boredom. Boredom is the silent killer of our progress and our daily systems - it’s over cooking the porridge.
Boredom Prevention 101 comes down to the concept of aggregating marginal gains: Continually improving and advancing in small ways - making little improvements - small challenges - that make difference. Remember from last month that if you can show up, consistently, every day, then you have already won well more than half the battle. This becomes your tracking system.
There’s an expression that I like to remember; massive success does not require massive actions…but - getting it right is a delicate balance.
Side Bar: This is another example of how journaling keeps us engaged and helps us avoid boredom! Our eyes and thoughts are consistently adjusting and making small improvements to keep us in the “just right” zone when we journal, reflect, and show gratitude in our writing.
Back to the program - True behavioral change isn't about the outcomes that we achieve - it’s about the systems (processes) we create for ourselves, and more importantly, it’s not that we lack motivation in our choices, but rather that we lack clarity in who we are, or moreover the person we want to become.
Our commitment to the systems we set in place is what ultimately determines our progress. If I keep telling myself that I’m going to read that book, but never do, is it really because there’s not enough time in the week? Or is it that I didn’t create a system that allowed me to succeed in reading the book? Maybe I chose to fill up my time with more effortless activities: watching TV, scrolling you phone, checking emails or facebook.
A good rule to remember is that our habits are formed based on frequency (repetition), not time. We want to live on the edge. If I want to read that book then I need to increase my frequency of reading and watch less of my phone or television. If I want to go to the gym more then I need to become more aware of what is keeping me away from there and create a system that gets me there more often.
Our habits make up such a large part of who we are, and where we want to go in life. You have to decide the type of person you want to be, and begin proving it to yourself every day with small wins. Living on the edge and peaking our motivation. Like I spoke about in last month’s edition: show up, every day, consistently. This allows you to measure your systems, constantly documenting your successes, failures, and systems to continually keep you on the edge of your abilities.