Habits Make Mindsets

For most of my life, I was not interested in improving my health or fitness. I was a skinny kid growing up. I didn’t even think about exercising until my mid-20s, when a couple decades of eating however I pleased was starting to show.

I would occasionally go through brief periods of running, or muster the discipline once in a while to follow a diet like Whole 30, Paleo, or Keto for a month or so. But no matter how many gym memberships I signed up for or friends who wanted me to work out with them, or motivating CrossFit classes I attended, it never stuck.

That all changed in 2017, however, thanks to a combination of working from home and having a gym in my garage. The magic of it was being able to work out in the privacy of my own garage (I was self-conscious in the beginning) and the extremely low barrier to working out (I don’t have to leave the house) was the perfect fit.

All of a sudden, all my excuses seemed pretty weak. I never had to worry about waiting for the squat rack, and I could get into my mental rhythm and flow without anyone around.

The habit wasn’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination. When I started out, I skipped workouts more often than I did them. But I kept coming back. And the more I worked out, the more I started to tweak and customize the routine to fit my needs and desires. And with the inevitable positive changes that accompany regular physical activity, I found even more encouragement to continue pushing myself.

The biggest change came when I realized I had experienced a mindset shift: I went from being the guy who dabbled with working out to being someone for whom working out was just a part of who I am. I started to to view myself as a fitness person. The routine and steady schedule of always coming back and always putting in work was shaping how I viewed myself.

This is the power of consistency, and why I am such a proponent of focusing on it above all else: When you consistently do, you become. Your habits shift and shape your mindset—for good and for bad.

I never considered myself much of a writer, and I struggled to post regularly (just check my post history prior to August of this year). But I knew that by committing to writing as a habit, I could make myself into a writer.

Don’t accept a limited view of who you can be. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says “yeah, but you’ll never be as good as that other person.” It doesn’t matter. Show up every day. Put in the work, even if it’s not as good as you had hoped. Do it anyway.

And commit to coming back tomorrow and doing it better. Not better than someone else, but better than yesterday’s you.