Here’s Why Your Gym Routine Sucks, And Why it Makes You Unhappy

It was pouring down with rain as I ran from my car to the gym. Although the roads were a little slower that morning, I made it to my HIIT class in time (yes, I’m a fitness First member – high five!).

Whenever I’m at the gym, 99% of the time I’m training in a group class. A class with a small group of people and a trainer. What I really like about these classes is that there is a set time, usually 30 or 45 minutes. There is a set program. There is someone I’m accountable to (other than myself), and there is someone pushing me to go that extra rep, that extra kilo, those extra 5 seconds. As painful as it is whilst I’m training, I reap the rewards later (as long as I don’t eat too much pasta over the weekend…you know what I’m talking about!).

This class in particular intrigued me. There were two ladies who caught my attention (and not in that way). During each and every exercise, during each and every break, these two ladies were chatting away – non stop. Let me make one thing clear, there is no judgement here, just an observation.

We were all doing the same exercises, pushing ourselves to the max. I burnt almost 500 calories during that class, with an average heart rate of 150 bpm, and a max heart rate of 191 bpm. I think I’m reasonably fit, and by the end of this class I was completely knackered.

Now, unless these two ladies were super fit (which they may very could have been), I’m unconvinced they truly got what they could have got out of the session from a fitness point of view.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I believe it relates so closely to investing, our wealth, and our personal goals. How so I hear you ask? How many times have you found yourself wondering why you’re not achieving your goals, whether these may be from a health and fitness point of view, financial, or personal?

Just because you have engaged a financial adviser, just because you have a coach, just because you have a personal trainer, it doesn’t guarantee you success. You have a massive part to play in your success.

Your coach, whether fitness, personal, or financial, can help you set your goals, set the program, the exercises, he or she can be there to hold you accountable, but unless you’re doing your bit, the chances are you’ll fail. At our recent wealth breakfast, Paul Roos is quoted saying, “there’s no doubt they had a belief in me and trust in me, I think they also felt just because I arrived they we’re going to win games of footy. They’ve got a fairly big part to play in whether they win or lose.” – referring to when he first arrived at Melbourne Demons footy club.

How do you go from simply wanting something, to feeling like you’ve got your back against the wall and will actually do something about it?

The Power of Goal Setting

Almost three years ago I quit my corporate job and ventured down the path of one of my biggest goals – setting up my own business. The concept of goal isn’t exactly ground breaking. Yet most people don’t have a clearly defined set of goals. It was only a few months ago however, I started to write down my goals – personal, family, relationship, financial, and business. I’m clear on my ‘action plan’, the ‘outcome/result’ it will provide me, and my ‘why’.

Yale researchers conducted an intensive study back in 1953. They interview the graduating class just before they left school. They asked the students “Do you have a clear, specific set of goals with a written plan for achievement?” Less than 3% of the students answered “yes”.

Then, 20 years later, the researchers went back and interviewed the class members again to find out what their lives were like. They noted that the 3% that had written their goals for a specific plan seemed to be happier and more well-adjusted than the others. They also found that the 3% group was worth more in financial terms than the other 97% who did not have clear goals.

I believe most of us have goals, and most of our goals are not that inspiring – inspiring enough for us to jump out of bed each morning. When people ask me what I do for a “job”, I tell them for me it’s not a job. It’s so much bigger than that. For me, there is genuine meaning and fulfillment. I like to think of these as meaningful goals. Goals that inspire me to do even more.

The Game Plan

Here’s what worked for me:

1. I Wrote Them Down

Sounds like a waste of time doesn’t it? Believe me, there’s nothing more important. There’s also something about writing down your goals. Studies have shown you are not only acknowledging to your conscious mind that you’re dissatisfied with where you are right now, but also your subconscious mind.

People generally take action when they reach a threshold. When you’re comfortable with where you are right now, it’s unlikely you’ll take action.

2. I Got Clear on my ‘Why’

Have you ever opened the fridge and last night’s birthday party cake was starring you in the face? The more we tell ourselves we don’t want the cake, the more our mind tells us to go and eat the cake. If your why is to simply ‘lose weight’, it may not be enough. But if your why is to stay fit and healthy to be able to see your grandchildren grow up, all of a sudden your why has so much more meaning, is so much more powerful, and is more likely to stop you from eating the cake.

By getting clear on your why, you will find your purpose. And what you’ll find is that your purpose is far stronger than the outcome. The purpose of your goal is not the result. It’s what the end result will give you. Knowing this will help you through the toughest times.

For me, it was about my children. It was about creating a life for them that I never had. It was about creating options and flexibility. It was about creating a legacy.

3. I Took Action

Someone once told me that ideas suck, and that action and execution is key. I found myself always looking for excuses. It’s not the right time. I’ll do it next quarter. I’ll do it when the kids are older. There was always an excuse. Something magical happened however, when you know what you want to achieve, and more importantly, why you want to achieve it, it creates an unstoppable force that enables you to take action. Knowing full well that the status quo was not something I was going to resort to.

I was a perfectionist. It stopped me from getting things done. I’ve learnt however, that perfection is the enemy of execution. As long as I get things 80% right, I’m happy to drive forward and work on the rest of the 20% as we go.

You need to work hard for what you want, engaging someone else to help you doesn’t mean you relinquish all responsibility for action. Other people can help guide us, hold us accountable, and even push us when we need them to. Getting what we want isn’t easy – if it was, we’d all be happy and fulfilled. It takes time, clarity, purpose and commitment. Blaming others is the easy way out. Blaming ourselves is the most difficult.

Take a step back and find out what’s not working for you and take action.