I've self-identified as someone who overcomplicates things. This is most evident in my day job where I stare at a computer and write code. Software developers like me tend to be too clever for their own good. That's why everything we do gets peer reviewed before it goes into production.
I have noticed complexity creep into my physical training practice as well. This might be strange to hear. What's complex about training? You show up. You do the work. You move on, right?
To me it's an RPG. There are skills I'm working on. Each day I show up and execute a plan to level up. The problem is when the plan becomes too ambitious. I try chasing too many skills at once.
The first sign that complexity has found its way into my training is allocation of time. When sessions begin to expand in timeframe, I know I've passed an unsustainable threshold. I can keep it up for a while, but as the weeks go on my energy levels drop. Inevitably my training suffers and I make less progress.
“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
- Bilbo Baggins
I am not able to sustain a training protocol that relies on 4-5 hours of workload each day. There may be some people out there who can. And that's great. But for me, I have other things that need attention.
When my mind catches wind of this, the gears start to turn. Enthusiasm to show up each day fades. I start doubting my efforts. Consistency falls by the wayside. It takes weeks to build a habit, and moments to break it.
I decided to ask myself what reducing complexity in my training would look like. There's an old Warren Buffet strategy he uses to focus and prioritize his time called The 5/25 Strategy. It came to mind as I performed this thought exercise.
The first step was to write down everything I was doing and everything I wanted to do. Then I crossed off 80% of the list. These items became my "avoid at all costs" list. They don't get my attention until the remaining 20% have been accomplished.
A weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It's not that the 80% percent that was crossed off isn't priority. I want to do those things. I want to do everything! But if everything is a priority, then nothing is. This is the mindset shift I needed.
It's not a race. It's the cultivation of a lifestyle. A sustainable lifestyle. And if I plan to do this for life, then what's the rush? It's better to hone in your focus on 1 thing then lose your focus over 5 things.
I'm looking forward to what comes from this simplification mindset. To make it actionable, I will be breaking my training up into 8-12 week periods. The goal is unbreakable consistency. I will be doing less, but accomplishing more. After the period is up I plan to assess my progress.
- How do I feel?
- What have I learned?
- What improved, and what didn't?
With this information I can plan the next period accordingly. Rinse. Repeat.