Paralysis by Analysis

Paralysis by Analysis

By Ryan Jones, NASM, PTAGlobal, Spartan SGX, ISSA, PES, ELDOA

Paralysis by Analysis 

As a new year approaches many people start to think about next year’s goals, and with that, preliminary plans are constructed which may even include a step-by-step process to attaining these accomplishments.  Outcomes may be contemplated along with the emotional reward or satisfaction, yet data shows that roughly 60-70% of new year’s resolutions fail after the first month.  Why is this? Are these goals not as important as once thought?  Why do individuals put so much thought into reaching new milestones in fitness, finances, and relationships, yet they give up within a month?  Eisenhower stated it well, “Good planning without good working is nothing.”  Simply put, when one puts too much time in planning and analyzing, it can leave one paralyzed in a state of limbo, afraid to take the first step and possibly fail. 

By accepting some simple truths: a) you’ll never be perfect, b) work is hard but not always complex, and c) the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, can create a new paradigmatic approach beyond the ‘let’s start Monday’ or ‘new year’s resolution’ way of thinking.

You’ll Never Be Perfect

At Red Dot Fitness, we appreciate and prioritize planning.  As a staff, we question skillfully and listen carefully so that we are able to perform a thorough analysis which puts us in an informed position to create intentional, efficacious and optimized programs.  But no level of periodization, personalization, or optimization matters if it’s never executed.  Yes, as coaches we can create the “ideal exercise prescriptions and dietary protocols, but the real issue is, people aren’t robots and no one is perfect.  People do not live in a vacuum, and there are always variables with living.  There will never be a perfect time, work will always be crazy, kids will get sick, and things will go wrong, but we can accomplish amazing things by adapting and being persistent and consistent.  Sometimes you may have to pivot with a plan, shorten your workout, or even skip one of your three training sessions for the week, but that’s not a reason to ‘throw your hands up and throw in the towel.’  Two workouts is more effective than zero, and one slice of pizza does a considerable amount less “damage” to your diet than five. 

Work is Hard but Not Always Complex

Planning can be challenging, yet actually doing the work can be even more challenging.  Taking  any type of risk whether financial, emotional, or physical can be daunting, and the discomfort that comes with growth-inducing tasks can be uncomfortable.  Yes, sometimes this means ‘testing the waters’ before we can truly take the next step – where we have to experience something to recognize what we did was wrong, uncomfortable/painful, or impossible in order to truly grow.  This could be a bad investment, awkward first date, or even simply being a little too sore from a workout, but that’s okay; now we know better for the next time.  A previous article I wrote dives into the reasoning and benefits of doing hard things (here).  We can’t let the fear of failure or hard-work keep us from taking the first step.  It doesn’t have to be complicated or the perfect move, we need to just take action, and be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

When a proverb sticks around, it’s probably because there’s some truth to it.  Often a journey or goal can seem overwhelming, leaving people lost or paralyzed before they can even take the first step.  To accomplish a large goal, the focus doesn’t need to be on all one-thousand steps to achieving that goal, yet rather simply focusing on one step at a time, more importantly the step directly ahead.  From here, the focus can be the next step and so forth.  We may even turn a direction we never would have planned for, and sometimes this can turn into the most rewarding and timely outcome.  The lesson here is learning to take a single step, and not trying to leap ten  steps ahead.  If we think of the initial step(s) versus the end goal, it seems a lot more manageable, and it allows us to begin taking action now. 

Closing Thoughts

If we acknowledge these three truths, perhaps we gain a new paradigm of thinking which allows us to not be paralyzed in analyzing our plan and to take action now versus ‘on Monday’ or ‘January 1st.’  Think of it like this, if it’s currently the middle of October and you start doing two 10 minute workouts a week for the remaining 10 weeks of the year, you’ll accumulate nearly 200 minutes of investment into your health and fitness goals.  This idea can be said for financial investment/savings, or any other goal you seek to accomplish.  The moves may not be huge or perfect, but they are steps versus stagnation; steps that support getting you to a place you want to be.

If after acknowledging these truths, you still struggle with the fear of action, seeking a professional or mentor can be that first step to accomplishing these outcomes.  The wisdom and experience of this ‘guide’ can be the key to achieving the life you wish to lead.