One of the hardest things for me personally to do is PAUSE. Pause and assess. Pause and learn. Pause and reflect.
I like action.
Honestly I’m prone to working harder wasting effort to just DO something over slowing down to learn and assess.
But the secret to the best results in as short a time as possible isn’t hard work…
It’s efficiency of work.
And efficiency comes from constantly learning, constantly honing your skills. Constantly perfecting your tools and building your resources.
It doesn’t come from simply trying to do more.
Because too often when we try to just do more and work harder, we don’t find the best way to do something.
And we end up wasting a ton of effort.
A perfect example of this is the tale of two woodcutters.
Woodcutter A cuts wood all day, never pausing to rest.
Woodcutter B, on the other hand, at times throughout the day stops and sits down.
At the end of the day, Woodcutter B has cut 3 times more wood than Woodcutter A.
Woodcutter A incredulously asks, “How the heck have you cut so much more wood than me? You rested far more!”
Woodcutter B says, “I wasn’t resting, I was sharpening my saw.”
All too often we don’t want to take that step back to improve.
We don’t want to regress to progress.
We don’t want to slow down and learn something new.
It feels like we’re wasting time. Or slowing our momentum. Or taking a “break.”
But often that step back can lead to a huge leap forward.
Stop trying to rush results by just working harder.
Be willing to pause and sharpen your skills (hehe) and build your resources and knowledge to be more productive.
It will save you a ton of time, wasted effort and ultimately help you move forward faster in the end!
So how can you get yourself to pause at times and do the learning that is necessary to stop working harder and instead learn to be more efficient?
#1: Schedule it.
How often do you actually SCHEDULE that forced step back? Take a look at your workout logs, your food logs, your progress pictures and honestly make notes and compare?
How often do you take that step back and take that bird’s eye view of your habits and changes over the last month, last few months, heck last year?
Too often we don’t step back.
We get caught up in doing.
So schedule it. Every week schedule that weekly assessment.
Put it on your calendar for a specific time each month.
But force yourself to take that pause to assess so you can then make adjustments if they’re needed. Adjustments not out of emotion even but based on what the data is telling you.
#2: Force non-linear progression.
Sometimes it isn’t bad to do something preemptively. And forcing that pause can help you be more efficient.
If you know a time at work is busy, why not take that conscious step back before you’re forced to or before you become so overwhelmed you end up doing nothing?
If you’re starting to show the signs of overload occurring, why not do that de-load week before things truly accumulate and you end up injured?
Or if you’re finding mentally that you’re not as motivated, why not embrace the change of a new macro or going to minimums.
Often less is more.
And sometimes forcing ourselves to pause, even when we don’t feel we fully yet need to or want to, can actually help us jump forward faster. It can help us waste less effort because we just preemptively do something.
It can help us even learn where are weak points are to make them stronger. It can help us learn more about ourselves.
You don’t want to wait till you’re having to do more swings of the axe before sharpening it. You may want to even sharpen it before it fully gets dull.
Same thing goes for our healthy habits. Sometimes we may want to even take that step back before we’re fully “needing” that diet break or new workout progression or rehab. Sometimes we want to do something at the first signs or even potential signs so we can keep moving forward over getting to the point we’re frustrated or want to give up or even in a bad situation.
#3: Learn while doing.
If you’re finding things aren’t progressing like you’d like, why not take the time to learn as you stay consistent over just jumping ship and starting the first program you find?
Too often we get frustrated we aren’t where we want to be and we either just start adding in more, working harder or even completely jump ship to something new, over learning as we’re going to see if there are tweaks we can make or small adjustments.
Sometimes we need to slow down the rate at which we want to do more or put in more effort and instead stay the course as we simply assess.
Then we want to think “How can we exert the minimal amount of effort, make the smallest change, and see the biggest result?
The more we are constantly assessing and seeking to learn as we are doing, the more we can take little chances to adjust small things we’re doing to get a big outcome without having to work harder or work without a break!
Working harder can lead to a lot of wasted effort. And while action can feel good and make us feel like we are moving forward faster, sometimes that pause to assess can actually lead to us leaping ahead.
As hard as it can be to stop doing and embrace a bit of learning which can feel like we’re doing NOTHING, that may just be exactly what we need to see better results faster and with a routine that is actually sustainable and doesn’t wear us out!