Jeremy Côté


Avoid the Surges

When you first begin working on a goal or a habit (both after a break, or if you’re starting a new one), it’s tempting to do a lot. This is true for the beginner (once they have tested their abilities) as well as the veteran (who knows their ability far exceeds their modest comeback). Both want to push their abilities in order to challenge themselves. After all, who wants to be patient throughout a slow buildup when they can jump straight to the difficult things?

However, it’s so, so important that you don’t fall into this trap. It’s seductive to begin doing more immediately, but you must remember that the goals we set are achieved over a long period of time. You cannot “win” by doing everything in one day. Developing lifelong habits don’t happen that way.

Worse, trying to do a lot in a short amount of time is a surefire way to create a state of burnout. While you may feel great about your goal on the first day (and super motivated to accomplish it), how will you feel a week in? Two weeks in? A month in? As time moves on, the initial enthusiasm will fade. This may sound grim, but it’s the reality that everyone faces. Even the most committed people in the world don’t have a huge amount of motivation every single day.

Therefore, there is no use to “spend” all of one’s motivation during one day. In the subsequent days, there will surely be a dip in motivation, causing a questioning of the goal itself. By doing a lot, too soon, it makes for a large barrier to overcome during the next days. After all, we don’t want to start doing less than what we first did, right?

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, although it isn’t easy to execute. When you have a huge burst of motivation, you need to ignore it. Do what you were going to do anyway, and then stop exactly where you planned to. Chances are, you’ll still be teeming with motivation. This is good. From here, you need to use this extra motivation as a means to fuel your next session.

By making yourself wait, you’re creating a craving. In this instance, a good one. By the time the next session comes around, you’ll be incredibly excited to go ahead and start again. Plus, you can repeat the same procedure every day, allowing you to prolong your motivation. On the other hand, if you use all of your motivation up on one day, there’s a good possibility that you’ve done too much, and your excitement for the next session will likely diminish.

If we want to achieve our goals, there’s no reason to do everything in one day. On the contrary, our goals are long-term, which makes our best approach to them long-term as well. Therefore, we need to spread our motivation over the season that spans our goal, not just the day-to-day sessions. As the saying goes, doing too much, too soon, leads to failure.

Be smart about your training sessions. Don’t try to “win” the goal within one session. It’s a process, which means you want to sustain your motivation throughout that process.

If you can do that, you’ll be set up to achieve your goals.