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All In The Mind

"In life, if you give yourself a concession, you'd take it" -Alvin Poh

As part of my exercise regime when I was younger, I made it a point to have a run around my neighbourhood as often as I could. Although when I say "as often as I could", it usually meant only once every week, or none at all. But I was still proud of the fact that I ran. The route was pretty tough for me, with slopes and small hills, and finishing every run gave me a sense of accomplishment and made me feel healthier and fitter.

Anyone who runs knows that you will always have the urge to give up, or to cut short your route. When the going gets tough, you go home and relax. It's human nature. And this is what is going to be the main topic of this article - Overcoming human nature.

The fact really is that many of us have the potential to perform, and to excel. What do you think of the quote you see at the top of the page? Do you agree with it? This quote was actually invented during one of my runs. I remembered that the day was exceptionally hot, but I had missed a few days of exercise, and the sedentary lifestyle was getting to me. So I went to put on my running shoes, and started on my usual route. I was like a caged-up dog finally let loose, and practically pranced down the stairs to the street. My mind was full of high-energy, positive thoughts:

"This is great! I'm finally going out ? Time to work those legs!"

"I'm raring to go! Lemme have 'em!"

When I hit the pavement, I let go of my pent-up energy, and really ran. I was fresh as a daisy, and ran with the wind in my hair. It felt really good. I was f-r-e-e!

Ten minutes later, I couldn't have felt worse. The heat was getting unbearable, and the humidity was horrible. I was sweating profusely, and my legs felt like lead. The initial freshness had all gone away, and I was feeling like hell.

This was when little specks of negativity started to appear in my head.

"I shouldn't be out here in this weather. I should be resting at home."

"I'm risking heat exhaustion here."

"I run a lot anyway ? what's one run less?"

"That hill in front's so long?I should probably just turn back."

With every one that came into my head, my perseverance dwindled. Every negative thought that came into my mind seemed to take root, grow, and multiply. And with every negative thought, my steps grew smaller, and slower. My lungs felt constricted, and I had an overwhelming urge to stop.

Interestingly, I think I felt almost like how those cartoon characters would, with a small devil and angel quarrelling above my head.

This was when the realisation suddenly struck me though. The thought hit me square on the face, and I could have sworn that there was even a loud "wham!" when it connected.

I was letting myself become a "quitter". And it was because of a simple fact: I was letting negativity enter my thoughts. I was letting them permeate and grow. I was encouraging myself to take the easy way out.

As I pushed myself and tried to move on, I started thinking about this. The funny thing was that, after a while, I realised that when I wasn't paying that much attention to my run ?it was actually getting easier! Meanwhile, I came up with this line that described the realisation that I just had:

"In life, if you give yourself a concession, you'd take it."

If you focus on doing something, and keep telling yourself that you can do it, you'd more likely than not succeed. If you let even just a wee bit of doubt creep in, you'll soon start to be complacent and you'll take whatever easy way out your mind's offering you.

Case Study 1: The Runner

You are running your third round on the running track. You intend to complete six rounds, your normal distance. You feel great still. You push yourself, telling yourself that you can do it, that you can beat your previous time. But suddenly, you start to think about why this is so important to you. It's like a floodgate's been open from this point onwards. You no longer tell yourself that you can do it, but ask yourself why you should do it. You begin to slow down. You are more observant of the pain in your legs and the difficulty you have breathing. Soon, you even start to harbour thoughts of cutting your run down to only five rounds, because "what's one round less".

Case Study 2: The Student

You are three days away from your exam. You have your book out in front of you, and you have to study a total of nine chapters. You've completed two chapters, and you intend to finish at least five at the end of the day. You know you have the determination to do so, and you begin reading through chapter three. After five pages, your mind starts to wander. You start pondering. You think about how tired you are, and you soon convince yourself that it's true. You yawn. You think about how long three days is, and figure that it's too much time for just seven chapters. You start wondering why you are studying so soon. Your eyes begin to feel heavy. You are tired. You decide to take a nap, and go to sleep for two hours, and you do so.

That's why I think letting yourself even think of a concession is dangerous. If you are really intent on doing something, you shouldn't be thinking of anything else. When you start to let your mind drift and think about the easy way out, you immediately start losing your determination, drastically. I think the best way to overcome this is by instantly stop, and remind yourself of your true goals and objectives.

Alvin Poh has been specialising in web development, content distribution, advertising and marketing strategies since 1995. His goal is to provide practical information based upon his years of experience to help webmasters, website designers, and self-employed people achieve their goals in today's competitive Internet. At his site, you can learn how to make money online.

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