In Special Operations Forces selection there is a saying:
“Finish-out today and quit tomorrow.”
SOF selection is essentially a system of heavy-duty hazing, ruthlessly tormenting a bunch of people until most of them drop out.
During this intensive process, it’s so tempting to tell yourself:
The run is too far. The water is too cold. My arms are too weak to do one… more… pushup… unnnggghh.
It’s so tempting to tell yourself: It doesn’t matter. It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth this pain or boredom.
So what’s the secret to staying the course?
Later, that is.
My buddies and I promised each other we’d never quit in the middle of something. At least, we’d wait until the end of the day, when the intensity of the moment had passed.
The carrot of quitting dangled enticingly in front of us. A little treat, the promise of eventual relief to keep us going. It was just a little farther away.
Of course, at the end of the day, we’d look back on the incident that had made us want to quit — realize it wasn’t so bad — and feel good about our decision to continue.
Invariably, this simple trick would pull us through.
We didn’t quit today. And every one of us made it through selection.
The small, seemingly unimportant decisions we make in the moment can have far-reaching consequences for the kind of body we get (and the kind of people we become).
That’s why it’s so important to pause and think before we act. To finish out today and “quit tomorrow.”
The Opposite Rule
Remember the Opposite Rule?
If what you’re doing isn’t working, try the opposite.
(Ridiculously simple, we know. But it works.)
Most of us have told ourselves: I’ll start ____ tomorrow.
[Insert one or more of the following self-improvement projects: running, getting up early, eating healthy, being nicer to my in-laws, learning Swahili, etc.]
“Starting tomorrow” — while it’s a great way to begin — also often lets us justify poor decisions today.
So what about trying the opposite?
Instead of “Start tomorrow”, how about: “Quit tomorrow”?
Act today; quit tomorrow
We tell you to keep it simple, do-able, and as easy as possible.
But sometimes, things will be tough. You will feel resistance.
You’re going to have moments of weakness when you want nothing more than a bag of chips or a package of Twinkies. Days when you can barely drag yourself to the gym.
It’s OK and normal to feel that. You can’t control your instinctive emotional response.
But you can control what you choose to do.
So, when you want to give up: Quit tomorrow.
Nourish yourself with healthy food today. Get yourself to the gym and do that set today.
And tomorrow, if you want that Pop-Tart or you need a rest, go ahead and take it.
But I’m betting the urge to quit will be gone.
Instead, when tomorrow dawns, you’ll feel just a bit healthier, a little less dependent on sugar, a little stronger.
You’ll be 1% better. And one step closer to your goals.
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