Do It the American Way: Be Scared

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article about American workers’ tendency to not take a vacation. Specifically, this line stuck with me:

“Americans’ focus on work reflects ambition, insecurity and personal identity.” (emphasis mine)

That word–insecurity–confused me initially. What? Americans insecure? We are probably the most outspoken, confident group in the world (at least that’s the popular perception). When I think America, “subtle” does not make any Top 10 Adjective lists.

But upon further reflection, “insecure” makes sense. When you’ve worked really hard for something, I think a natural fear is losing what you just achieved. So you do everything in your power to protect what you earned. That ethos is etched into the American psyche.

Why do I say all this?

Because I think it’s a very effective way to stay motivated during your fitness journey.

I’d love to tell you that once you start working out and make tremendous gainz, your worries will go away–that you’ll be good and that you’ll have all the momentum of a snowball going down the mountainside.

But that won’t often be the case. You will suffer setbacks. You will fall into stretches where doing nothing sounds a whole lot better than going out for a run or to the gym or to a class. What’s missing one day at the gym, in the grand scheme of things? You may feel be feeling a bit sore from a previous workout and tell yourself that it’s important to rest, right?

During times like this, you need to fight through the complacency. You know what’s one of the best motivators? Fear. Fear that you will lose your gainz; that you will get slower; that your pants are feeling a little snug, or your shirt seems to be fitting a little tighter around the torso than you’re accustomed.

Is that a healthy way to look at the world? I don’t know–I’m not here to tell you what’s good from a self-esteem point of view. I certainly can see that an extreme version of this mindset isn’t healthy, and that if you’re in a lot of pain, your body is sending you signals you should adhere.

But breaking old habits and making progress isn’t easy. It isn’t comfortable. Reaching the next level requires battling not just your body but your mind as well. And scaring yourself is a pretty effective tactic to get going.

So do it the American way. Be scared of the prospect of losing, so you’ll do everything you can to win.

Keep on pushing that pile, friends!

– SS



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