My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. -- Navy SEAL Creed
Young aspiring Navy SEALs always ask those that have gone before what the toughest part of training is. Some mistakenly think that mental and physical toughness in this context are separate qualities. I assure you they are not. By training your body you train your mind. When you push yourself outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis, your mind becomes strong and the boundaries of that comfort zone much wider.
Mental and physical wellness are essential for great leadership in any setting. But busy executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners often find it difficult to maintain a consistent fitness regimen. We tell ourselves we don’t have time or that other tasks and responsibilities take priority, and they often do. That is why it is imperative to get creative with your schedule and the ways in which you work out.
Here are five ways to approach fitness when your schedule is busy.
- Work out in the morning. I have found that my productivity increases substantially when I start the day with 30 minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise. I have more energy and don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day. That said, this often means a 5 a.m. wakeup call. The temptation to hit snooze and tell yourself you will work out later in the day can be overwhelming, but that’s where discipline needs to kick in. Don’t overcommit by trying to accomplish this five days a week. Start off with an early workout two to three days a week and build from there.
- Work out with a partner. A great way to hold yourself accountable is to schedule these workouts with a friend or co-worker. Peer pressure can be a powerful tool. Get together with one or more co-workers and create a lunchtime or afternoon schedule you think you can stick to. Doing this provides a structure of accountability, gives you a boost of energy, and most important, breaks up the day.
- Commit to a challenge. Setting goals and milestones is the best way to stay committed and make it fun. I have found that signing up for a race or having an office competition gets people engaged and gives them something to work towards. If I know I have a triathlon in the weeks or months ahead, I am much more likely to stay committed to a fitness routine regardless of a busy schedule. Similarly, when co-workers are involved in friendly competition like a weight-loss contest or training for a local mud run, everyone stays more involved and excited.
- Invest in training. Another way to stay focused is to be held accountable by a trainer. Investing in a trainer is certainly a great incentive, but can also be a scheduling nightmare for busy professionals. New products and technologies are emerging, however, to address some of these issues. I recently came across Fitblok, which is essentially an online open-access worldwide gym for both trainers and participants. Any trainer in any language, fitness type, or style can set up shop (a “locker room”) and tie it to his or her other digital assets at no cost. People can search the platform for trainers or workouts that may suit them based on several different parameters, as well as popularity and user feedback. This will likely never replace the in-person experience, but it offers a tremendous opportunity to trainers, a real experience for users, and infinite scalability.
- Be disciplined. Trainers and technology aside, a commitment to fitness takes discipline and focus. Only you can truly determine how committed you are to your own personal wellness. You have to truly want it. Physical and mental toughness fuel one another, and the more you become habitual about fitness, the better off you will be personally and professionally.
Stop making excuses and get fit. You will be happier, have more energy, and excel professionally.