The Cost of Success

Today’s Workout

Strict Press 5-5-5
Wendler Cycle 3, Week 4, Deload
40%, 50%, 60%


“Roving Bear”
Holding dumbbells (m-35 lbs; w-25 lbs) in each hand, complete 5 rounds for time of:
4 walking lunges
7 dumbbell cleans
4 walking lunges
7 dumbbell front squats
4 walking lunges
7 dumbbell push presses
4 walking lunges
7 dumbbell split jerks
You’ve felt it before. You’ve finally decided to tackle something that’s been on your mind for a while. You’ve even created a vision of what it’s going to look like when you’re all done and your excited! Then it happens — it comes time to start and there’s something stopping you. You think about it and you’re “confused,” you’re frustrated before you start, what looked so bright and shiny just a day ago feels like a weight you are now carrying around. You start telling yourself it’s “impossible” even before you try.

You may be discovering what Sebastian Marshall calls “The cognitive cost of doing things.” Marshall has “discovered” 7 costs that go along with trying new things, and that he says can be minimized if you know they are there. You will probably be familiar with them when you look at them, you may just never have considered that they’re normal. You probably thought there was something wrong with you or that you simply lack the ability to commit. Marshall’s point is that if you know how you are wired, you can change the game however you want to!

The 7 costs that Marshall identifies can be distilled down to some basic ideas:

  1. The cost of changing your routine. It takes something. There is thought required where there was no thought required before. Your routine was your routine and it was automatic. Now it won’t be, at least for a while. Just know the smallest steps can build momentum, and if you remember that everything that is now automatic was once just like this, you can minimize the energy put into the dread of change.
  2. All the other things you can’t do as a result. Ah, the fear of missed opportunity. Your new endeavor will take time and energy, and other opportunities will still be open to you. We are by nature second guessers and your new activity may require you to choose it over other things many times before it is set in stone. Removing other options when possible (think throwing away all snack food in the house when you start a diet) can make this part less of a process.
  3. Inertia. A body at rest will stay at rest and a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. This sounds a bit like number 1, but activation energy has more to do with having to deal with the inevitable discomfort of change, while inertia is about what it takes to change the direction you’re heading in. Without an outside force, things will stay the same. Putting that force in place requires conscious effort. One tip — share your ideas with someone else. Get the thought outside of your own mind and let other people constantly ask you how things are going. Have others in your life act as the winds of change for you.
  4. Ego or willpower depletion. This may be the most visceral cost. You know this one — “I’m so tired of trying so hard.” Each act of will depletes your willpower “reserve.” It feels harder just to do the basic things you have to do. This doesn’t mean don’t exercise self-control, but be aware of how much energy you have to dedicate to control over the course of a day. Take on what you can handle given current commitments. You should be bending, not breaking.
  5. Neurosis or fear. Like it or not, we are all a little fear driven — it is perfectly natural. That doesn’t mean you have to be fear controlled. Our tendency to give more weight to the possibility of the downside comes from eons of survival strategy that just doesn’t apply in most modern situations. The downside causes fear and fear has a physical cost. Noticing that there is nothing to “survive” is a big step towards greasing those wheels.
  6. Hormone balance. Confronting a perceived threat will get you all jacked up, which will only have you crash later on when your adrenaline is depleted. And hormonal imbalance will wreak havoc on your immune system, your digestion, and your general energy. This follows right from fear. Remember, in most cases there is no danger out there. There is no better cure for this than telling someone how freaked out you are. Verbalizing it over and over helps you see just how much you may have overblown the situation.
  7. Finally, there are maintenance costs Re-emerging thoughts that must be dealt with over and over again about impending tasks, unknowns, or possible failure will put a drain on you brain tank. Having a system to store those things external to your brain — think putting something in a calendar (e.g. do taxes on Saturday afternoon) — will free you from having to constantly deal with them mentally and you will know that you haven’t let them slip by.

Step by step, larger goals can be accomplished. Right, Alisa?

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