Being physically fit is hard work, I know because I have eyes. If it were easy I’d see lots more fit people, but sadly, most of us appear in various stages of dilapidation. If people were houses, most would be labeled as handyman specials.
As the father of a two sons ages 2 and 11 days, I’m currently struggling to get my workouts completed. The older one can’t always be talked into stroller rides while I run, and the little one is to small. Just this morning, I had grand plans to get up at 5:30 for a quick half hour workout. My plans were foiled when I was summoned at 4am to help find the tractor my son had taken to bed. I blindly searched in the dark, groped under the bed, and flung stuffed animals about.
Risking a full blown wake up, I turned on the lights and found the tractor pinned between the crib rails and the wall. I went back to bed, as my son happily drove laps around his pillow, leaving me less then convinced that more sleep was on my menu. Sure enough, as I returned to bed, the baby began to stir indicating feeding time was approaching. Now at this point I serve no purpose for the baby, but I was disturbed non the less. My wife addressed the babies needs and I began to get comfortable, just as I was about to re-enter dreamland, I heard thumping noises and someone calling for daddy.
With that- I was searching for the tractor again. Let’s pause for a moment to consider, “who would sleep with a metal tractor?” My son would, and this time he lost it as it laid directly next to his chest. I crossed “detective” off his list of future occupations, tuned off my 5:30 alarm and skipped my run.
My sleep was already shot, so I should have at least ran. At times like this, its important to have a default running loop. It should be a distance you can complete easily, allowing for adjustments in pace to determine its challenge. This route eliminates decision, it takes away options, its just something you do. Everyone should have a route of this nature, when the weather or life don’t cooperate, just do the loop, and move on. My loop is called the school loop, because I traverse a local campus, and its the run I should have done this morning. If tomorrow morning goes haywire, I’ll use this default option and then move on.
This idea applies to both fitness and personal finance as both are built on the strength of small daily decisions that compound over time. Just as I have a default running loop, I also have set default investing decisions. Every pay, money is deducted from my paycheck to fund my retirement account; its automatic. Every month I make the same small additional principal payment towards our mortgage; its automatic. Some months I do more investing, or I pay more towards the mortgage, but the point is I’ve set a default option, which has established a minimum and doesn’t require any thought. Just like in running, this ensures I at least do a little, even when the tractor gets lost.