How do you juggle it all?
How can one work 60+ hours a week and still maintain a high-level of fitness and health? How can you fit fitness in your life when you have a family? How can you fit it all in without something falling off, or suffering?
When others hear I workout very regularly, run a business in my free time and juggle many other activities, they make the gross assumption that I must be doing it at the cost of my family, when that is not the case, at all. It makes others feel more comfortable to assume you are screwing something up, rather than to think you may just have something figured out that they don’t. It makes them comfortable with lazy, honestly.
We all struggle with this, right? Personally, I am a full-time active duty military officer which means on an easy week I work a minimum of 50+ hours. Then there are the weeks I leave at 6 p.m. and have to be back at 8 p.m., then there are, due to the nature of my job, the occasional 3 a.m. phone calls that get me in or the mid-saturday recall, etc. It’s pretty hectic.
That’s work life. I am also married to a wonderful woman, have a little guy nearing two years old; and these two are more important to me than anything else in this world. I also train athletes both online and in-person, I run and write for End of Three Fitness, I am an active member of a church, and I have all of the usual chores around the house that all of you have. Oh, and I try my best to keep up with friends and family and maintain those relationships as well…
After all that…I have MY fitness, which is incredibly important to me.
I am not complaining, at all, and I know some of you are even more pressed for time than me. Either way, I want to talk about “the juggle”. We all live crazy busy lives, but that is no excuse to abstain from fitness.
Like juggling, just because you can’t immediately throw and catch the balls your first try, doesn’t mean you don’t or shouldn’t juggle…It means you practice more and become better coordinated.
So, let’s get more coordinated.
Overnight Success Doesn’t Exist
First, we need to start with your expectations.
You watch a motivational video, hear an inspiring story or find a new training routine and it gets you amped up. That’s great, but is it for you? Could it be? Every time you see or hear a success story you have to know the individual you are reading about has most likely been working their ass off for a prolonged period of time, and now they are successful.
What I am trying to say is, don’t jump into the deep end!
Change is good, but you already have your life, your habits and your routine. Trying to drastically change up what you are doing now will almost always result in failure.
So drop the all-or-nothing, life-changing mentality when it comes to fitness and adopt daily success habits, or I as like to say…learn to juggle.
Learning to Juggle
You may not be the person who can handle a lot in your life easily, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work at it.
Learning to juggle actually begins with throwing only one ball from hand to hand to get accustomed to the rhythm. It would be near impossible to learn by throwing three balls in the air and hoping juggling just happens. The fact of the matter is, baby steps ARE progress.
So let’s get away from the fluff and get to actionable information. I will list a few different action items you can start using today, but remember don’t get overwhelmed and don’t take on too much. One action item is better than no action items.
ACTION ITEM #1: The Mental Toughness Mission of the Day (MT-MOD)
Alright listen up, when I refer to mental toughness I am not talking about holding your hand over a flame or in ice water to try and become tougher. I am talk about something that simply pushes you beyond your normal limitations.
Today, you can start you MT-MODs, and the best part is, you create them and they are easy.
Start simple (baby steps, remember):
- Waste too much time on your phone, computer or TV? Then your MT-MOD for today can be a three hour consecutive time period where you DO NOT look at a screen.
- Eat a lot of junk food? Don’t try a diet overhaul on day one. Replace one meal or snack with a healthy one.
- Don’t workout enough due to poor discipline or lack of motivation? If you’re in that boat, forget a program…you’re not ready. Stand up right now and do 3 sets of 30 squats.
The point of the MT-MOD is for it to be different everyday, yet you wake up in the morning and set your MT-MOD knowing that you will not fail your mission.
Do it everyday. This is creating a habit of doing, not necessarily a specific habit.
ACTION ITEM #2: BUILD HABITS
If you can handle action item #1 of the MT-MODs pretty easily, then it is time to start building habits. We all have goals, but focusing too much on the big picture can be discouraging, and missing a deadline can take a lot of wind out of your sails.
So this goes against the grain of what most goal setting lectures and lessons would teach, but how about just this once we refuse to make our goals time-based?
Instead of a deadline we will just focus on today, or rather, the daily. If you want some tech help, try this:
It does’t hurt to have a small way to hold yourself accountable. These tools can be used to build habits as well as break habits. For instance you cold track the habit of NOT watching TV or track the habit of working out in the morning.
And that is your action item here. Today, set one habit you want to START however small does not matter and start one habit you want to BREAK and start tracking your progress. It could be as simple as 30 squats a day, workout one hour a day, eat one healthy snack, etc. Then also decide on one habit you want to break, and these can also be small, as mentioned reduce TV time, snacking or something else holding you back.
Once you can successfully complete MT-MODs and then start to build habits you know you are capable of becoming the person you want. After that, we have to get serious.
You have to become an “architect”…
Become a Life Architect
Being a life architect is the next step after mastering juggling. First, you start with one ball, then two, then three and work yourself up slowly. But eventually you will get good at the juggle. Three balls will be too easy, then you will want four, then perhaps you will want to try odd-objects…once you get to that level you are ready to become a life architect.
Being a life architect may sound cool, but it is very challenging and requires the ability to look at the big picture of your life to find out what you are doing wrong and how to fix it. This is the next step after being able to set and control habits.
Architects avoid band-aids and focus on permanent structures that are streamlined for a life they want.
Example: From above I mentioned if you watch too much TV, you are wasting time, so challenge yourself to set a time that you will not watch TV…this pushes you and is a great test of will. However, it is ultimately a band-aid.
But that is not the way of the life architect. A life architect will cancel cable, get rid of the TV or put a squat rack where the TV stand once was (ok, maybe not the last one). These are, of course, dramatic and won’t work until you are ready for it. But this should be your ultimate goal.
- Gym too far, thus causing you to skip workouts? Setup a garage gym.
- Unfit, lazy friends who constantly bring you down? Get new friends.
- Not enough money to eat healthy? Fix your budget, stop eating out.
- Not enough time for working out? Something HAS to go! What will it be; TV, games, some other activity that will not impact your longevity and health as much as fitness? Get rid of it!
The formula = Stop complaining, start acting and make changes.
Being a life architect is like creating a gravitational pull. You make big decisions, when you are ready, that dramatically pull you in the direction you desire. All of your efforts, minutes in a day are systematically programmed to make you live the life you want.
Sounds intimidating, right?
Stop being average and mediocre. Give some stuff up and push yourself to a new you. I wish I could tell you the juggle was easy…but it’s not. You have to live the life you want, no one can do it for you.
You have to break yourself in with baby steps, but eventually you have to put on the big-boy pants and start truly moving towards the life you want.
Then, once you have decided the direction you want to go (for those with spouses and families, include them on this process) be uncompromising when it comes to the fluff and filler that you don’t need, yet seems to creep its way into life.
You may not have room for more than 3-4 priorities in your life, it is up to you to decide what they will be.
Good luck in your quest becoming a juggler and life architect!