“OK, OK – I’ve had enough” I said breathing heavily and perspiring a bit more than I’d prefer (actually, I think it’s called ‘sweating’).  “Can’t we just skip the last set and call it a day?” I said to my trainer, Brent.  “I mean I’ve done everything up to this point really well, but you have really kicked my butt today – I can’t do anymore.”  Then, with a very matter-of-fact look he said: “Zero or one?”  “What?” I said;  “Zero or one is all you get.  You either complete the workout or you don’t.  You can finish your tasks that you have left or you stop now and not complete it.  Zero or one.  It either is or isn’t.”

Brent’s theory is that we have become, what he calls, “masters of wiggle room.”  We’re used to wiggling out of a situation the second we start to feel uncomfortable.  Heaven knows, as a trainer, I’m sure that’s what he hears all day – people trying to make excuses and not complete the task at hand because it’s difficult.  Personally, I find this to be painfully true.  It is always easier to make excuses than it is to see a project through – no matter it be in business or personal life.

I am simply not an athletic person (there’s a surprise).  But it’s been really interesting to note that once a realistic goal is set, it’s quite easy to achieve it.  For instance, I’ve noticed that when I’m working out, every time my inner voice starts to go “oh no! 6 more?  I CAN’T…” As almost if he can see it on my face, Brent suddenly counters with, “Come on – only 6 more to go – you have to complete this set so we can move forward to your goals.”  Sure enough: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – every time I do.

Goal based behavior is not the way my mind works.  I like to do a little here, do a little there, then come back to here and do a little more.  Eventually getting (most) everything completed – albeit not terribly efficiently.   By ‘keeping your eye on the prize’ you meet your goals quicker – and the goals are actually met.

This binary way of thinking has really started to creep its way into all the different parts of my life too.   I either wrote this blog post or I didn’t.  We met the budget for the party or we didn’t…the list goes on and on.

It’s as if someone has thrown the rule book out the window.   Once a decision has been made you only have two remaining choices:  Zero or one?  There is no grey area. You either did it or you didn’t.  AND if you didn’t, without beating yourself up, you now have every opportunity to start anew with a clean slate and use the resources and information you’ve learned previously to reach your goal.

How simple can this get?

The Secret Ingredient:  It either is or it isn’t.

My trainer is Brent Carter, Converge Fitness, NYC, bjcrtr@gmail.com

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  1. matthew @ a fine press

    David, thanks for this reminder. I have to admit I almost missed this gem because my relationship to the gym is definitely a “0”!

    Do you find goal-oriented processes help client relations? How does it affect your creativity?

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