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Show Up First. Push Yourself Later

Cover photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

Here’s something I realized from the gym. I was never into fitness. Hated it. I remember the one or two times I’d show up, walk around aimlessly, try to curl as much as I could, and give up. 

A few years ago, something changed in my schedule. I worked from home. Instead of trying to drag my sorry ass to work out at 6:00 am (the only time that worked before), I could drop my kids at school and head straight to the gym. 

8:00-9:00 became my golden hour. 

This morning, I was reflecting on what made it work. And I think I know why so many people fail with fitness goals. 

Let’s pause for an awkward gym selfie here…

We think we need to show up and push ourselves. PUSH. We imagine some Richard Simmons wannabe screaming positive thinking in our ears. And we try to lift the heaviest things or run the fastest. 

And you end up burned out and miserable. You’ll never come back. 

So you want to know the secret?

Just show up. Push yourself once you get used to showing up. 

I’d walk into the gym and do reps. Not the heaviest weight I could handle. I just focused on getting the lifting right and learning. 

Eventually, showing up at the gym didn’t take any work. It was muscle memory. It felt more weird on the days I didn’t show up. 

So I started learning how to push myself.

Today I show up without thinking about it. I know what I’m doing–since I took the time to learn as I showed up. And I LOVE working out–I can devote all my energy to pushing myself harder. 

I think there’s a lesson there for life. 

How many times have you started something and quit? Maybe a fitness goal. Maybe writing online. Maybe improving a relationship. Maybe getting a better job. 

You go all in and have:

  • ONE really good exercise session
  • ONE really good LinkedIn post
  • ONE beautiful romantic dinner with your partner
  • ONE fantastic day of networking and applying for jobs

That’s it.

For most people, that’s all it will ever be. 

I’ve talked about writing a novel for years. I’d sit down and write a page or two. Then quit.

Last year, I wrote my first novel by writing 500 words a day. This year I’m working on another one. (Nothing that’s been published yet. Fingers crossed!)

The thing I’ve learned over the years is that transformation comes from just showing up.

Build that muscle memory first. I’d give higher odds of success to the person who shows up a little over a long time than someone who goes all in for a day and quits. 

  • If you want to create content online, spend 10 minutes a day creating something short and sweet. Don’t spend hours laboring on a blog post. 
  • If you want to learn how to run, start by running around the block every day. Don’t try to do the half marathon. 
  • If you’re trying to grow your career, try to connect with one new person a day on LinkedIn or set up one coffee chat a week. 

If you do these, your odds of success are way higher. 

In fact, it’s what I’m trying to do with these emails. I just want to keep showing up. Building the muscle memory. Because it brings me a lot of joy to write. And I hope it makes you smile 🙂

Just show up. Push yourself later. 

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