“The biggest challenge in life is trying to be yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everybody else.”
Getting the health and body you want is surprisingly simple: ignore the crap everyone else tells you.
The irony is that we most often spend our time doing the exact opposite.
Emulate the people we see in magazines, the youtube fitness folks, those super-toned women of Instagram and more.
But what if it were a lot easier, and involved you just being, well, yourself?
The Big Lie About Getting Fitter (And Living Better)
You’ve been lied to about how hard it is to lose weight, get fitter, and ultimately live a better life.
You’ve been spoon fed the gospel of iron discipline, of willpower, of combating your own laziness.
And ultimately, you’ve been told that it has to be a struggle, painful, and a never ending process that involves removing all the pleasure from life.
And thankfully, it’s all a lie.
The Cult of Average
All around us are average people living average lives.
People eating average foods for breakfast, grabbing a coffee and a scone, or a bowl of cereal, or a piece of toast with some coffee.
People doing average exercise and workouts, which usually means nothing.
People thinking average thoughts, having average ambitions, and keeping average dreams.
And you know what it gets them? Average.
An average life.
But you’re here because you want to lose weight, get fitter, and live a better life by changing tiny habits.
And there’s one principle that has helped me, and many of my clients, more than anything get to where they want to be – avoiding the cult of average.
Getting 1% Better And Being Awesome in General
When you think about it, it’s not that hard not to be average.
Here’s how I like to think about it.
Look at your coworkers today while you’re at work, and tell me what you see – no really – tell me what you see.
Let’s put it on paper to make it obvious:
My coworkers’ eating habits:
- Eat in a rush
- Eat at their desk
- Eat on the go
- Eat lots of bagels for breakfast
- Drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day, with lots of sugar
- Go out and get sandwiches and pizza for lunch
- Rarely cook
My coworkers’ exercise habits:
- Walking from the car to the office door
My coworkers’ mindset and thinking habits:
The victim mentality.
“Ugh, why are they always dropping this work on my lap?” Ugh, my dad was always overweight and had high blood pressure, so I probably will too.”
Complain without taking action.
“I just don’t really have time to exercise, to be honest.”
“I just never stick with anything I commit to… I’m not even going to bother trying.”
My coworkers’ accountability for changing their habits:
- Wife or husband complaining
- Beating up him/herself mentally and emotionally
The reality is that this seems like a lot working against them – and it is – but there’s a fix.
What Would it Take to Be 1% Better?
I recently had an online workshop, and I opened it with this slide:
And I asked the listeners: Which direction are you going in?
In other words, if you view each of your health and wellness habits as tiny things that either bring you closer to the health you want, or further away, which direction are they bringing you in?
In reality, it’s not that hard to have a better health or life than the average person does.
Let’s revisit that list above.
Take each little point here, and think about how you can do it 1% better.
My coworkers’ eating habits (1% better):
- Eat in a rush ==> I’m going to sit down for 20 minutes and eat.
- Eat at their desk ==> I’m going to take official meal times.
- Eat on the go ==> See #2.
- Eat lots of bagels for breakfast ==> I’ll grab something equally as quick – a green juice.
- Drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day, with lots of sugar ==> In one of those cups of coffee, I won’t have sugar.
- Go out and get sandwiches and pizza for lunch ==> I’ll just have pizza and sandwiches on Fridays.
- Rarely cook ==> I’ll cook dinner once a week.
Average ==> the 1% better version of myself.
This is what I mean when I say that success doesn’t have to require tons of time when it comes to losing weight or getting healthier – it actually doesn’t.
It requires tiny habits, done daily, with patience. It requires time.
The Inner Genie Exercise
So we’ve established so far:
- There’s a cult of average. Pretty much everyone around you is average – and it’s okay. Average everything. Average levels of health and fitness, average levels happiness, average style, average relationship or marriage, average income, average everything. But for the average person, average also isn’t good enough. They want better health, to travel more, more money, a better relationship and so on. They want those things! But average doesn’t get them it.
- It’s not that hard to be 1% better than average. Seriously, it really isn’t that hard to be 1% better than average. When my coworkers eat in a rush, 1% better means sitting down for 20 minutes to eat. That’s 1% better, which makes an absolutely massive difference in the long run. It’s incredible how big of a difference in the long run.
- Being better than average is the way to success in health and wellness. Like I said, it’s tempting to think we need massive time, effort, discipline and willpower. But we don’t. We just need to be 1% better than we used to be. This is the power of 1% better. Hopefully, this should make you feel awesome, because you don’t need to really to go invest massive amounts of time and energy to change.
- We can figure out the successful version of ourselves by using the inner genie. Here’s the thing: you don’t need to go searching for ideas, strategies, and magical insights that some monk sitting on a mountain somewhere figured out. At all. You just need to ask yourself what the 1% better version would do – which is something I call the “inner genie” exercise.
The Inner Genie exercise is pretty straightforward.
Anytime I was confronted with potentially slacking on a health habit (like meditating), or I wasn’t clear about what the next step was, I asked myself one thing:
“What does the expert do? What would the fit Alex do? What would the Buddha Alex do? What would the ultra successful Alex do?”
It sounds super simple, but here’s how my life changed.
Example 1 – “Ugh, I just want to get to work and not have to do this long morning routine. I could sleep in so much more.”
The same thing often happens with my meditation: it’s a lot easier for me to just roll out of bed, make a quick breakfast, and then get to work quickly.
It would be a lot easier for me to just skip the meditation and do whatever I wanted in the morning.
But I know meditation benefits me, and I know I want to be the kind of person that meditates daily.
So then the question comes up:
What would the Buddha Alex do?
Well I’ve read many biographies of buddha, and I had heard about the hours he meditated in the morning, the walking meditations, the evening meditations, the 5, 6, or 10 hours of meditating a day. So what would the Buddha Alex do?
He would get himself to do it and figure it out. He would shut up and do it.
Then it’s pretty obvious what I have to do, if I want to become the kind of person I want to be.
Example 2 – “I really don’t want to go to this gym with all these people watching me…”
Maybe I really don’t want to go to the gym today.
So I ask myself the same question:
What kind of person do I want to become?
What does the fit Alex do? If he doesn’t want to go to the gym, maybe he just does a home workout, or maybe he just reduces his workout to 20 minutes.
What does the disciplined Alex do? Maybe he does it anyway as an exercise in discipline. Or maybe he just tries a new kind of exercise he can actually tolerate (hint: not freaking running).
Whatever you want to become more of (Healthier, happier, wealthier, etc.), you use this exercise to figure out what you need to do. Then do it.
When you can answer your own questions, life isn’t such a mystery. It’s also infinitely easier to stay motivated because you know what needs to happen.
No tricks, no gimmicks, and no shortcuts – the inner genie usually knows exactly what it needs to do.
Your Tiny Habit For Today
If you really want to go deep, try the habit pyramid exercise.
But otherwise, write down your current habits (or the average habits of the average people around you) and write down what you can do that is just 1% better.
Remember, 1% better is easy.
It should be, otherwise you won’t do it.
Write down what’s 1% better as far as the habit goes, then get started and begin making those habit changes.
What else would you add to this list?
Images: woman; man with fork; change; kettle; used with permission from freedigitalphotos.net