Those words may not be the most inspirational way to kick off a (hopefully) motivational note. I'm highlighting them as I've been planting this sentence in my brain when I force myself to head to a gym at least twice a week.
I go there to do my least favorite thing in the whole wide world - strength training. I'll be blunt: I hate it. I would always prefer running, biking or hockey as my workouts of choice. I don't know why I have such an intense dislike for it and I'm not going to try to figure it out. But, having recently turned 50, I've noticed my joints seem to be taking it hard so something has to change. I know from reading and logic that strength training is a good friend - or at least an ally - of folks that love the endurance stuff. I've made a pact with myself to stick with a regimen of getting in at least two workouts for the next three months (as you may know, it's supposed to take 90 days to change a habit).
Why does this matter? Because It's All About The Base. Not the Bass that Meghan Trainor is singing about in her big hit. I'm talking about the Base. Base as in foundation, bottom, support (as a noun) or, used as a verb, to build, construct, form, or ground. It's often said that the toughest part of reaching a big goal is getting started. I would argue that it's equally challenging to make the long-term commitment to putting a base or foundation for success in place.
Whether we're starting a strength training program or beginning a prospecting program of reaching a set number of new donors per month - we need to start somewhere and create that foundation for success.
That's where this idea of No More No Less can be really helpful. I've found - and maybe you have too - that when we start something new like a job, project or exercise program, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and novelty. This excitement has the potential to create an arc of super highs and deep lows. In my strength training example, there have been a few days where I've been "feeling it" more than usual. The weight lifting, squats, etc. don't seem half as bad as they usually do. Naturally, I'm tempted to do lots more that day. There are other days where the drudgery of doing it seems worse than what I'm imagining for my upcoming visit to the dentist. And of course I just want to bag it for the day.
No More No Less allows you to keep and establish that Base. That's where your growth comes from. So here are some suggestions for Building Your Base - no matter what the sport or activity:
- Pick An Absurdly Low Number of (fill in your Activity) per Day - Yes, you heard me right. Pick a number of calls, clients you can see, squats you can ace, miles you can run crazy easy. Why? Build up your confidence! You've got time. Feel great out of the gate and you're more likely to stick with your new challenge.
- Pick An Equally Absurd Number of Days Per Week to Do Your Thing - Think you can make your calls five days a week? Dial it back to 3 or 4. You're sure you can do your strength training four days a week (I know I can't) - call it 2 or 3.
- Don't - I Repeat - Don't Do More - I get it. You're on a roll and are ready to conquer the earth. Don't. Stop right where you're at. When you add five more of whatever, you give yourself license to skip five the next time. Not the idea. The goal is to establish a baseline of activity you're capable of achieving consistently.
- And (Surprise) Don't - I Repeat - Don't Do Less - So you skipped my third suggestion and doubled up on everything last time. Doesn't matter. Still hit your daily magic number.
- Celebrate - and Incrementally Add - Pretty straight forward here. Do something really nice for yourself after you've made it a habit. After that, add 5% to 15% and see if you can stick with it.
- Repeat Forever