Just Turn Up and Add to the Bank of Health

If there’s one message for achieving success that I’ve heard, been told, read or observed, it’s this; show up. I was reminded of the very same by coach Dan John during a weekend workshop last month. ‘Just turn up!’ Many of his successes over his athletic and professional career occurred by chance… that is after turning up to an event, competition or taking the opportunity to write an article for a popular fitness magazine.

It can be said that success does leave clues, and it’s pretty clear that being in the right place at the right time is sure to lead to many an adventure, misadventure, offers and opportunities. But if you ignore them until ‘next time’ or for ‘another time’, you’ll have missed the gun and lose time, the one thing you can’t get back.

Everything we do now on a routine basis is because at some stage it became a habit. Either as a necessity or as something we started. It was a habit in the making. It might not be a habit any more, but during the process of forming it, it was becoming a habit. Now it is just part of life. But, to create it, something had to start, we had to turn up in sorts.

Opportunities are created by us not others – we just have to turn up, be there, say yes. 

Now, what the heck does this all mean in the context of my area, health and fitness? My first job in fitness back in 1997 happened when I turned up for an appointment at a physio and asked if he knew of any jobs going in the gym upstairs. And yes, sure enough, there was… ka-ching! ‘Winner winner chicken dinner’ as they say’. In the mid 90s I had a wonderful time living my dream of the day, racing my bike in Europe on a shoe-string budget. How? I turned up at events often, got noticed by people and got offered an opportunity.

  • A former client with a life changing back problem hated turning up to the gym every Wednesday morning but he did. He’s now a former member because his life turned around again because he did turn up regardless of his emotions. Now Dave runs almost every day, has climbed Everest (I jest not) and he’s a new man, a much lighter, happier and healthier man to boot.
  • Robyn turns up to the gym three times a week even though she’d prefer to be sitting at home, feet up with a cup of tea to recover from her totally crazy, busy family life. She decides to turn up, work through her mobility and strength routine and goes home again a little bit better than 45 minutes previous.
  • Jim decides to make his life healthier by working on eating more vegetables. He turns up to the grocery store instead of the bakery to buy his least detested vegetables haha. His goal is to buy vegetables he enjoys, to add to at least one meal a day to begin with at the most. Little changes made often will grow over time.

That is the goal of this piece; to demonstrate through a few examples how making little changes often can make them a habit, then a normal part of life, all the while adding to the wealth of health, adding to the bank.

How often do you hear of people taking on big, new goals or challenges, only to either never start them or to blow up in overload due to the enormity of the task? They took on more than a reasonable amount of change than they could cope with. That isn’t a reflection of their poor resolve, it’s just being human. We thrive best on small and often.

Dr BJ Fogg lectures at Stanford University in human behaviour and specialises in habit formation. His very successful program Tiny Habits which I have taken a few times, works on the principle of taking the smallest amount of the target habit and doing it with / after / when you perform an anchor activity. An anchor is something you do as part of a normal day, like going to the loo, brushing teeth, pass by the front door, wash dishes etc. By building the familiar pattern of doing something new with something simple and frequently occurring, the new habit has the best chance of itself becoming a normal, everyday activity.

I use this principle daily for my own newish habits. Some I don’t call habits any more as they just happen, they just are because I turned up. I’m not doing the best job at expressing what I’m trying to tell you here. It will take me practice I guess to explain how the simple acts of turning up and making small changes can have very large, longterm benefits. But that’s where I am and hey, this is only a blog, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I just sat down in front of my laptop and started typing instead of having a coffee with an episode of the Simpsons haha

My Grandfather told and taught me many things when he was alive but one thing he encouraged me to embrace was offers. “Never turn down an offer, always say yes”, he told me. He was right.

Never turn down an opportunity.

Yours in health,

Jamie

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