This past week I noticed that the gym was noticeably emptier. In fact, it’s been getting less and less crowded every week for the past month or so. This is perfectly normal, because it’s March, and March is just about when everyone who made a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape is starting to give up. Especially the people who go early in the morning like I do. They slip back into their bad old habits and find ways to justify doing other things with their time (or more likely, sleeping an extra hour…which isn’t bad, but you could just go to bed an hour earlier to get the same effect while still hitting the gym).
In a way I like the extra space at the gym (nothing worse than a crowded gym), but mostly this is just depressing to see with such predictability. The inability to set goals and stay consistent with the tasks necessary to achieve them is something that seems to plague our culture. Even though you justify giving up, deep down you feel like crap when you do, which makes you a little less happy as a person.
Conversely, if you do every single scheduled workout, you see slow-but-steady progress, which in turn gives you a rush of happiness, and in turn leads to your desire to achieve more. Being consistent compounds upon itself and gives you the results that make you feel good about yourself.
When I was in 10th grade I was a chubby 15 year old. That year I started playing for our high school football team, and while I wasn’t very good, I became committed to the year-round weight training program and – in conjunction with eating healthier – was able to shed about 25lbs by the time I was 18. Since then I’ve never missed a workout unless I was sick or injured. 11 years of working out 3-4 times each week, slowly but surely increasing my strength, putting on a little more muscle, and decreasing body fat. I’m in the best shape of my life right now, at an age where most people start to put on fat and lose muscle. It’s been a shear by-product of hard work, and it makes me extremely happy to think about. I’m addicted to the feeling of feeling good about myself.
So is it going too far when I say that I think consistency leads to success, and success leads to happiness? Or maybe better – success contributes very positively to happiness? In a post I wrote a few years back entitled Success and Happiness – Myths all Over the Place, I cited an article from Men’s Health:
“The surgeon can’t afford to feel happy during a demanding operation, or a musician while playing a challenging score,” writes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who first proposed the concept of “flow.” “Only after the task is completed do we have the leisure to look back on what has happened, and then we are flooded with gratitude for the excellence of that experience — then, in retrospect, we are happy.”
The article goes on to mention that our relationships with others are also a large portion of our happiness, which I think is something everyone knows to be true. But how come people ignore this other component? The component that involves hard work and consistency instead of immediate gratification. Losing weight is great, but the process of doing it makes you just as happy as the end result.
It’s the same with starting a business. The slow and steady micro-innovating is what leads to success. Even better, thinking back upon each one of those accomplishments and seeing the results of them is what makes me smile from ear to ear when I think about our business. It just wouldn’t be as good if we just put up a website and were millionaires overnight.