In the next 4 articles, we’ll dive into the 4 keys to a successful health and fitness journey, or as we like to call it: your Odyssey.
The 4 essential keys will help you reach your goals, continuously learn and grow, overcome obstacles, and keep going during times when you feel like everything and everyone’s working against you.
These are the 4 Stoic virtues of Courage, Wisdom, Temperance, and Justice.
These keys are also our company’s core values and act as the foundation upon which we built our action-based nutrition and fitness coaching approach. It’s the stuff that helps you live a good, happy, and healthy life.
First in line is Courage. Because without Courage, it’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to become a true Action-taker. It’s what allows you to get started, and to keep going when – not if – you’re met with challenges and setbacks.
The Courage to Accept and Own Your Current State
Change begins with doing the uncomfortable thing of looking in the mirror – both literally and figuratively – and addressing where you’re currently at. Before you can create change, you need to get clear on WHAT needs to change.
This one’s going to sting a little but promise me to keep reading. Because having the following realization is essential, and as uncomfortable as it may be, we HAVE to talk about this stuff before you begin your Odyssey.
As Jocko Willink – former US Navy Seal and author of the book Extreme Ownership – says; everything is your fault.
Again, this sounds harsh, but your current state is a lagging indicator of your past decisions and actions. That’s not all bad though! It’s a GOOD thing! Because if everything’s your fault, that means that also the good stuff is thanks to your own doing.
It means that creating change is 100% within your own hands.
Of course, there are things outside of your own doing that affect your life. I’m not saying there aren’t. However, those things are outside of your control. What IS within your control, however, is what you will do about it.
A true Action-taker is willing to get uncomfortable by looking in the mirror, take extreme ownership of their actions (both past and present), and focus on what’s within their control.
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
You Just Need to Get Started
Courage is not something you inherently have, but that’s built over time by making decisions and taking action in alignment with your long-term goals, even when you’re not 100% sure if you have it in you. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained through repetition.
You aren’t just an Action-taker, you become one.
Taking your first step is the sole thing that allows you to create that initial bit of momentum that ultimately leads to long-lasting change. Without it, you won’t get the ball rolling, and you’ll forever stay within your Comfort Zone.
You‘ve probably heard the phrase “Step outside of your Comfort Zone” a million times. And while it’s a bit overused, and an almost cheesy thing to say, it is the truth. The ONLY way to grow, change your current state, and ultimately reach your goals, is by taking that first step outside of your Comfort Zone.
The easiest thing to do would be to stay inside of your Comfort Zone. Inside of it, you’d feel safe and in control. It’s your “this is how I’ve done it for years”, it’s what feels right. It’s where people without Courage decide to stay. It requires no effort to stay within the Comfort Zone, for which you also won’t see change.
Those WITH courage just take action, imperfect action. They’re aware that it may not be the ‘perfect time’ to get started, and that they won’t be good at most things, yet. But they know that without taking that big, imperfect, and scary first step, no change will ever be possible.
Whether it’s reading the first page of a book about mindset, setting foot into the gym, tracking your food for the first time, meditating, or anything else that you KNOW is required to get things in motion…
… A true Action-taker makes the decision and gets started by taking that big, imperfect, scary first step outside of their Comfort Zone.
Courage to Keep Going When Met With Friction
To fully understand this part of your journey, I need you to imagine a magnetic field around the Comfort Zone, which like gravity tries to pull you back in.
Courage got you started. But before you make it into the Learning Zone, which is where you’ll begin to connect the dots and have your first a-ha moments, you first need to make it through the Fear Zone. This is where that gravitational pull is at its strongest, and unfortunately where those without Courage will already give up.
Before things begin to click and results start to show, confidence is low and you tend to be more problem-focused (more about being solution-focused in part 4). You’ll doubt yourself and your ability to grow, and you may come up with excuses like “I’m too busy, I don’t have the time” or “This is too difficult”.
Then you get hit with people’s comments like “I tried tracking, didn’t work for me”, “Isn’t what you’re doing too restrictive?”, or the classic “I could never do that”.
These comments usually say more about the other person’s ignorance and insecurities, and are by no means helpful, especially since you only just got started and are still easily influenced by other people’s opinions.
Remember that your actions don’t directly influence anyone but yourself, for which it’s unimportant what other people may think or say. That’s not to say you should only care about yourself here, but you are doing this for YOU.
Know that distractions, temptations, and setbacks won’t ever not be there, but that you will become better at dealing with them. As long as you commit to the promise that you’ll keep going, you’ll become more resilient, gain more self-control, and train your willpower muscle.
A true Action-taker keeps going despite self-doubt, excuses, distractions, setbacks, and others’ opinions. They may have thoughts of giving up but don’t act upon those thoughts. They recognize friction and let it be, knowing that it’s required for growth.
Developing the Courage to Take on New Challenges
Although required, growth is not ALL discomfort and setbacks. On the other end of hard work and friction, there’s reward and growth.
Entering the Learning Zone…
Things begin to click as you gain knowledge, learn new skills and tools, and have more repetitions under your belt.
Where before you were problem-focused, you’re now more solution-focused. Instead of finding excuses to give in to discomfort, you’ve now developed the Courage to challenge yourself even further and look for new opportunities to continue to grow and get better.
Your Comfort Zone begins to grow, and what used to be difficult and unfamiliar, has become easier with time. This is not the time to slow down though. No, this is your sign to benefit from the massive amount of momentum you’ve created so far and to keep going. As Alex Hormozi said: “When things get easy, go hard”.
Another thing I tell our online nutrition coaching clients when we get started is that this Odyssey is a process and not an event. Many people tend to see their transformation as a strict X-week diet, just to go back to ‘normal’ once they’ve reached their goal. This is often why they’ll end up right back where they started.
That’s what sets those with Courage apart. We (you, our clients, and myself) play the long game, knowing that REAL growth is an ongoing, never-ending process.
A true Action-taker doesn’t slow down but goes hard when things get easy, and continues to challenge themselves to keep reaching new levels.
Courage is Essential for Growth
At last, growth.
While working hard through the initial stages, overcoming the obstacles and problems along the way, and sacrificing short-term pleasures for the long-term outcome you only now get to reap the results from, you’ve taken on the identity of a true Action-taker.
Instead of waiting for motivation to show up, you put your head down and did the work. While you do feel motivated, you now realize that this is because the hard work you put in began to pay off. It wasn’t motivation that got you here, but your actions.
Achieving your goals is something that deserves celebration, and so are the wins you’ll create along the way. Do the work, reflect, learn, and push yourself, yes. But don’t forget to give yourself credit for what’s going well. It reinforces positive change and keeps the momentum going even during hard times.
Every single week, we ask our clients to point out their weekly win(s), and I suggest you do the same. In a way, you even need Courage to not get too hung up on your mess-ups and personal flaws and to celebrate your wins. Important side note here; focus on action-based wins more than outcome-based stuff like scale weight.
Now… You might be wondering, what’s next?
By the time you reach the Growth Zone, you’ll know. Goals may have been reached, but you’ll set new goals. Self-doubt has turned into self-esteem. You’ve proven yourself that you CAN overcome any obstacles. You’ll even look for the next obstacle because you now see it as another opportunity to grow.
What used to be ‘normal’ – the thing some people think they’ll go back to – is a thing of the past. You created a NEW normal, you’ve raised the bar, and the work changes from there is no going back to the way you used to do things. You now need to keep up your new way of doing to maintain your results.
A true Action-taker is never done. They know that whether it’s to create results, maintain their achieved results, or chase new goals, the work just needs doing.
Embrace the Challenge
To wrap up our first key, the Stoic virtue of Courage, I wanted to leave you with the following quote:
“There is no great credit in behaving bravely in times of prosperity, when life glides easily with a favoring current; neither does a calm sea and fair wind display the art of the pilot; some foul weather is wanted to prove his Courage.” – Arius Didymus
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