Apply Massive Effort to Get Results

Apply Massive Effort to Get Results

When we set goals but direct limited energy towards fulfilling them and avoiding distractions, we get limited results. Developing skills, learning information in school, following diet and fitness plans, and nurturing relationships require focused sustained effort to succeed.

Inertia is powerful

We  enthusiastically embrace a diet or exercise plan, sign up for a class, or decide on a skill to develop and work through tasks enjoying the accomplishment. Then we hit a wall. We get bored. We get off schedule. We don’t see results. We question why we started this in the first place. Our natural tendency is to stop or slow the effort until we return to the inertia from which we began. We know a little more but we didn’t accomplish the goal, perhaps feel a bit guilty and defeated, and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Massive effort is needed to push through barriers

When faced with the wall we have choices:

  • Stop immediately
  • Muddle through with little effort and eventually quit
  • Break through or climb over the wall

The difference between me casually leaning on my car and pushing it is massive effort. I can lean on my car and my weight may shift it slightly but the suspension will ensure that it doesn’t move. However, if I lean hard into the car, shoulder pressed against the trunk, legs pushing with great force, face grimaced with strain, and arms tensed with energy directed into the vehicle I get results.

Businessman pushing his car at the side of the roadNothing seems to happen at first and I continue to push but then feel the slightest movement in the car. I take short steps and force energy from my legs into the car and after a few short steps the motion of the car is more pronounced. I can take gradually longer strides directing energy into the car until I find that I am pushing less but the car is continuing to move. I can then jog while pushing the car as it moves under its own power with limited input from me. It took massive effort to transfer to start the movement and less to continue the movement.

Nothing happens until you put your head down, focus your energy, and keep pushing until something moves. You struggle with Algebra, until you don’t. You wrestle with reading or writing that book, until you don’t. You fight your resistance to the diet or exercise program until it becomes something your body seeks. THAT is when you see the biggest results. If you give up you gain nothing.

Diet and exercise example

I noticed this with diet and exercise. I worked out several times a week and embraced a healthier diet. While I felt better than without these choices, my weight range was still too high and my workouts were not challenging. It was better than nothing but there was something better than this.

I read (and watched a Google Talks video) about magician Penn Jillette’s drastic “potato diet” where he ate only plain potatoes for two weeks then added vegetable stews to trim 75 pounds from his 322 pound frame in just 83 days. The reason?

“The thing is, I don’t respect moderation so I had to do stuff really intense,” he said. “What I was most surprised about was I used to consider myself a happy guy. I look back on it now and I kind of, sort of wasn’t. I feel so great now. It’s night and day.”

Nutritionists and doctors got distracted on the pros and cons of the one food diet, the nutritional effects, and other health factors and completely missed the point. It wasn’t the diet itself, it was drastic action, not moderation, that was the kick start for his weight loss. He gradually adopted a mostly vegan diet and has worked to maintain his health and weight.

This is what got my attention. I was eating healthy and so obviously my diet would keep me in a 2 pound range but I needed something more drastic to get down to the healthy weight and then use my normal diet to sustain that. Additionally, if I wanted to see better results in my energy and strength I would need to intensify my workouts.

The results have been great. I have broken through my weight plateau on a lower calorie diet and work out until I feel I’m ready to be sick. As a result my body feels stronger, I have more energy at work, and am noticing the weight loss. The type of diet wasn’t important (though I am NOT a one-potato man) it just had to be easy to follow for a given period to reduce the likelihood of giving it up. I add variety to my workouts so they are not boring but do not diminish the intensity. Your diet and exercise program should not be a prison but should challenge you and reward your efforts. Find the ones that work for you instead of the latest fads. The difference maker is the intensity of the effort you exert.

Apply effort to work and personal goals

Have you set goals to develop professional skills or achieve goals? You’ve probably considered some things you need to do to achieve those goals. What drastic change do you need to propel you forward, develop strong momentum that will carry you forward towards meeting those goals? Do you need to block time, get an accountability partner or coach, or make an investment? Usually we can identify one task that if we apply massive effort to move it forward will cause us to move much closer to our goal and provide incentive to keep progressing. Maybe you are stagnant and you need to big challenge or a new path. Identify what you need to break the inertia and apply the energy to that effort. But, as they saying goes, “If you keep doing what you have been doing you will keep getting what you have always gotten.”


ABC News: Illusionist Penn Jillette on Shedding 100 Pounds



Why I Embraced Exercise After Age 45

  1. weightsHigh Blood Pressure, Triglycerides, and Diabetes (oh my!) The general “exercise is good for your health” admonition when you are young and energetic falls on deaf ears. When your doctor gives you scientific data on the deterioration of your body and risk factors at middle age, it can be a wake up call. Triglycerides levels are directly related to exercise and diet. Everything that is attacking or killing the people your age can be mitigated with a good diet, exercise, and smart health decisions. I’d really like to avoid stroke and heart attack. I don’t want diabetes. Period. Exercise and diet are no guarantees but I want to give my body a fighting chance.
  2. Fat Pictures No, these pants do not make me look fat. The extra 40 pounds on my frame make me look fat. Looking at my picture from the side I noticed jowls. I do not want jowls. The straight on mirror shot is not too bad and I can suck in my stomach for a quick fix but other views cannot hide the body only a desk job could love. Yes I am a bit vain about my appearance, though not obsessively so. I’d like carved abs instead of looking like a soon to be carved turkey so I crunch. I remember my beefcake pictures from the year of exercising faithfully and would like a repeat.
  3. Struggling Old People When I see an old person walking or standing up with great difficulty I think, “there but for the grace of God and some smart decisions go I.” There are no guarantees but if I exercise now I’ll build my bones and muscles instead of allowing them to deteriorate as they will do when not challenged. Of course disease or other factors could debilitate me and I’ll be pushing a walker but I’d rather be taken down by a cause than to be a weak old man because I didn’t get my tail off the couch and fight to keep the muscles. I hope to be one of those old people who still have a spring in their step and are able to walk, work, and enjoy life because they trained their body to be strong.
  4. Grandchildren To Be Named Later Since my oldest child is 18 years old, I hope it will be many years before I have grandchildren. But, if I am so blessed, I want to be able to walk and play with them as much as possible. Thinking about reason #1, I want to live to see them so I need to give my body the best odds of surviving until they arrive on the scene. I also want to be an energetic old grandfather who takes them to museums, playgrounds, and trips. In order to have that strong body, I need to start building today.
  5. A Happy and Prosperous New Me. Exercise helps reduce or remove depression without the unpleasant side effects of medication. I feel better about myself and have more positive energy when I’m active. This helps me perform better at work and helps me build confidence. I am able to deal with work pressures so much better, especially when I can exercise during the middle of the work day. In addition to a more positive attitude at work, a healthy life means more working years when I should have the experience and wisdom to be in better paying jobs within my industry. I want to minimize the chance of being taken out by injury and disability before the prime earning years. Economic stability also helps keep depression away.

Whatever motivates you to get in shape and stay in shape, embrace it. The motivation must come from within. No amount of preaching by your doctor or spouse will motivate you. You must find the reasons that you want to maximize your health and let it build a better you for tomorrow.