If you’re like most people, you have started and broken many routines. I’m no exception to this rule.
It’s hard to start a routine. It’s even harder to keep it going. Especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.
I’ve gone through many different workout routines in the last 5 years or so. It seems like I always make good progress, and then quit shortly after. I’ve finally found a routine that has stuck which I’ll share in a moment.
I’m sometimes shocked when I realize the impact of certain habits. It’s amazing how much good habits can strengthen your body, but also how much bad habits (or inactivity) can weaken the body.
About 4 – 5 years ago, I was the fittest I’d ever been (besides today). I was benching 50 lbs more than my weight, and I could literally eat fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without putting on a pound.
So I did what most people do when they get satisfied with their results. They let life get in the way of the routine.
I didn’t have the same fire and drive to lift hard, and slowly it started to show. I started going to the gym less and less, until I wasn’t going at all. Soon I came up with all kinds of excuses why not to go. Too busy, no clean protein shake bottles, putting it off until later.
A couple years of this weakened me slowly but surely. Then I had a real setback.
My Painful Setback
I was at a Super Bowl party. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty drunk, so I don’t remember the actual incident. But I like to rough house with my friends. Especially when alcohol is involved.
The next morning I woke up sore. That’s not unusual when I drink… I like to work hard and play hard. But I was sore inside my chest, and it felt almost like it was my lungs.
After a day went by with my sore lungs, I woke up the next day with even worse pain. Now it was to the point where I couldn’t take a deep breath without feeling pain. Any sneeze, cough, or laugh was excruciating.
That night the pain was so bad that I had my girlfriend at the time take me to urgent care. The pain felt like either a mini heart attack, or extreme heartburn, or lung cancer. Now I’ve never had any of those things, but that’s what it felt like to me.
The trip to the urgent care provided some relief. Turns out, I only had a pulled chest muscle. Even better, the doc said that I wasn’t being a wimp and that the pain I was experiencing can be excruciating for that type of injury. A pain prescription and some rest and I was good to go.
This injury did more damage than just the immediate pain. I tried going to the gym several times after this injury, but I couldn’t get much done with any chest exercises. The pain was not the good kind.
So I was forced to rest my chest muscles. It was a full 6 or 8 months before I completely healed.
By the time this happened, I had lost most of my chest strength. I was astonished. Years of workouts and now I was back to square one? How is that fair?
Slowly Rebuilding a Routine
I had no choice but to slowly build my strength back. And slowly did it happen. But I made a major change in my routine, which changed it all for me.
My simple technique was this, just go to the gym for 30 minutes and only twice a week. I got this idea from the entrepreneur James Clear. The idea was to make my workouts only on Tuesday and Thursday. That way I never burn out.
The next step was to remove all common obstacles in my path. Remove all excuses. Instead of worrying about protein shakes, I stopped taking them all together. Today I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.
I also made sure to schedule my workouts so I couldn’t miss them. I allocated Tuesday and Thursday after work to be gym time. In my mind, this was a non-negotiable time slot in my schedule. This made my routine repeatable.
I’m not great at waking up early, so why schedule workouts in the morning? That’s 2 obstacles to the routine, wake up early AND go to the gym. I had to remove that obstacle.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, I only forced myself to be at the gym for 30 minutes. Even more than that, I promised myself that if I’m not having a good workout I can just go home. No strings attached and no guilt. But I had to have gone. Just show up. Even if I only do one exercise.
That was the most crucial element of my routine. By tricking my mind into thinking that the gym wasn’t a big deal, I never was able to make any excuses not to go.
But as it turned out, just being there and working out often forced me to work out more than I planned. You get into the zone, and end up working out harder and stronger than anticipated.
Sure, some days I didn’t optimize my workouts, but my routine is still intact. Just the effects of that are way more effective than any one perfect or intense workout.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your body. Or your money.
A Solid Investing Routine
It’s absolutely critical that you get into a routine with your investing. Anything that you want to improve must be tracked and worked on constantly. This can only happen from a solid routine.
In the investing world, you must invest a consistent amount every month if you want any chance at being successful. This technique is called dollar cost averaging.
All you have to do is invest the same amount every month, and that’s dollar cost averaging. It’s effective because it naturally buys more as the market is down and buys less as the market is up. Classic buy low and sell high. And automatic too.
A consistent routine of mediocre investing will beat out any one spectacular investment, in the long term. Just like the tortoise and the hare story.
You can win in the market. You just have to be average. And dollar cost average.
Oh, and about my strength now? I’m able to bench (& squat, & military press, & curl) more than ever before. And my workout routine is still going strong, coming up on a year.
Sometimes you get the best results just by keeping it simple.
**The Importance of a Routine in Your Investing**
**All Rights Reserved. Investing for Beginners 2013**
**Photo shown above can be found: Photo Attribution**