When chasing goals it’s not necessary to make drastic changes. Small changes lead to big payoffs if you’re persistent.
The diagram below of the ‘Plateau of Latent Potential’ perfectly highlights what happens when we start to make small changes to our habitual behaviour. It’s discussed in more detail in this book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear which I highly recommend.
The quick fix diet
An obvious example would be the New Year’s diet. Most opt for a crash diet that brings huge weight loss in just a few weeks, but the evidence is clear that most of these end in failure. The alternative would be to aim for a 1/2lb loss each week. This requires less drastic changes to calorie intake, and while progress is slow, the diet is more sustainable. So, over 52 weeks an individual could lose 26lbs (12kg).
Applying this to your training
We know that the biggest disruption to building fitness is lack of consistency through injury or illness. What if we could avoid injury or illness by introducing some simple habits? Rather than taking the standard approach of increasing volume and or intensity to gain fitness, maybe try:
- 10’ mobility every day
- More attention to warm-ups and cool-downs
- Avoiding heroic workouts
- Better nutrition
- 15’ more sleep every day
- Core exercises every time the kettle is boiling
Have patience and think long term to see small changes lead to big payoffs
Taken in isolation and for the first few weeks/months, each of these changes seems to make little difference. Yet, over several months or years, the benefits can be huge. When we feel that our effort isn’t immediately rewarded by linear progress, we enter the valley of disappointment and many just give up. But if we can break through this valley, then all of a sudden we see big gains from our daily habits. All it requires is discipline and patience.