How to W.I.N. at Life.

I’ve learned some important life lessons through fitness and sport.

Training for tough running races taught me about commitment and discipline. I learned to follow through with plans, endure discomfort and to bounce back from failure.

Strength training taught me the transformative power of daily habit. I learned to conserve energy, focus my intensity and set smart goals.

Physical culture has also taught me how to set priorities and helped me develop the “What’s Important Now”, or W.I.N., philosophy. I use it with my personal training clients and all my personal day to day decisions.

The simple run down is this: ask yourself, “what’s important now”, and direct your energy and focus toward it. Simple, right?

When I decided to run marathons, I knew I would have less time for strength training. The most important thing for running a fast marathon is running more! I organized my life to bed earlier and let go of unnecessary commitments from my life to find more time to train.

I’ve also used this philosophy to become a better dad and husband. As a new father, I’ve scaled down my training. I focus on basics with a minimalist strength and cardiovascular training regiment. I’ve included an enjoyable variety to keep myself engaged while I focus on other priorities. I bike, run, train with barbells and kettlebells, slackline and practice yoga. I’ve also added more of the most vital ingredient, rest.

We expect to be able to do it all, but we can’t. “What’s important now”, when answered with honesty, is a way of acknowledging that you can’t do everything.

It’s not easy to leave things on the cutting room floor. But unless we have the courage to focus on what we want, we aren’t likely to succeed. By spending more time doing what’s important and less of what’s not, we get more done with more quality.

The truth is, I like strength training. I like being strong! But marathoners need endurance more than strength. So I sacrificed a little to achieve my marathon goals.

I also loved logging thousands of kilometres every year. I loved challenging myself to run farther and faster. I loved the discipline of early long runs and the crisp morning air in my lungs. But I love being a dad more.

With clients, I use W.I.N. to help them understand that the path to their goal often requires a detour or two. If you want to deadlift 300 pounds but can’t touch your toes, you need ask what’s important. You’ll need to work on stretching and mobility before ever touching the iron! This will delay the bottom line, but by preventing injury, you’ll be in the game long enough to succeed. You’ll learn patience and perseverance and not to skip steps.

W.I.N. is often far less glamorous than what you have in mind. It isn’t what you always want to do. It’s often what you need to do to progress.

Weight loss clients often ask about the latest powder, potion or pill. These wonder products distract from what is actually important. Things like eating more fruits vegetables, eliminating processed foods and drinking more water. It’s so obvious it’s invisible until you ask the question!

There’s not a moment you can’t use W.I.N. Should you watch television or prepare dinner? Should you focus on improving your professional skills or train for marathon?

The answer depends on what’s important to you, here and now. The answers can, and should change over time! For a marathon runner, long runs are non-negotiable. As a father of a four month old, a little morning cuddle time is non-negotiable. Either focus is right at various times.

This all seems obvious, but most of us never consider W.I.N.. Often we are guided by habit, ego, or ignorance. These hindrances can prevent us from making effective steps towards our goals.

My habit is to scroll through Facebook during my afternoon bus ride. What’s important to me is creating more content for my blog. If I let habit dictate my behaviour in this instance, I wouldn’t be writing this on the bus, as I am now.

My ego still wants to run sub-3 hour marathons. What’s important is spending more time with my wife and daughter. W.I.N helped me design a routine that keeps me fit and healthy with much less time commitment.

W.I.N. can force us to tackle knowledge gaps. I knew I needed to improve my client assessment process, but kept putting it off because I didn’t know much about the subject. Rather than avoid making the changes I took the opportunity to learn more. I made time to read and speak to those knowledgeable than me.

Focussing on what’s important now is about knowing yourself better. You’ll confront your ego and challenge your habits. You’ll get smarter by learning or asking for help when you need it.

You’ll get where you are going in the most effective and enjoyable way by taking the right steps along the way.

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