Exactly what do I mean by insanity? I’m referring to the now widely accepted definition of insane; doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
No doubt, most of us have heard that definition and laughed. And yet, is it possible that we are actually engaging in this type of insanity to some degree ourselves? I recently looked back on a situation in my own life and realized that exact kind of insanity was the problem.
But first a little background
When I was a teenager, I developed the habit of working out with weights three or four times a week. That’s a habit that has stuck with me all these years. Okay, I admit there have been periods of time when I’ve slacked off. But for the most part I’ve stuck with it.
I’m sure you realize that there are a lot of different approaches to lifting weights, and I’ve tried most of them over the years. I don’t want to bore you with a lot of details, but without some details the story doesn’t make any sense. So, I’ll try to keep it as uncluttered as possible.
When something quits working, then what do you do?
My standard approach has always been to lift fairly heavy weights in the 7-10 rep range. This approach worked extremely well when I was younger. But that was then and this is now.
A few years ago I herniated a disk in my neck. On its own, a herniated disc is bad enough, but there was a complication. A main trunk nerve that runs across my upper back and down my left arm was damaged. Part of the nerve died, and all of the smaller muscles fed by that nerve atrophied.
As a result of this injury I lost about 90% of my strength in certain exercises. Any attempt to stick with my old approach would have been total insanity under these new circumstances. Determined not to let this stand in my way, I designed a new approach. I started to use lighter weights, and much higher rep ranges. I reasoned that higher repetitions help to build neural pathways, so it seemed like a reasonable approach.
After much trial and error, I discovered that in my new situation the sweet spot for moving forward with my new limitations was 25 to 30 reps. Using this new approach allowed me to make consistent progress with each and every workout. Now here’s the surprise! I actually started to build muscle and burn fat at a rate I hadn’t experienced for over a decade.
Why? Because I was forced to break away from doing the same old thing and try something new. I had no choice because the insanity cycle of doing the same thing over and over had been broken by circumstanced. As a result, I began to produce a different outcome. Since then I have continued to change my approach as my condition improved or my body adapted. As a result, I have been able to facilitate a full recovery.
So what’s the moral of the story?
If what you are currently doing isn’t working, try something else. Don’t be afraid of change because insanity is continuing to do something that no longer works thinking that your results will somehow improve. They won’t, so move on.
I made a change because I was forced to. But as I look back, I realize that it’s a change I should have made long before I did. What I had always done was no longer producing the desired result. So, exactly why did I stay with it? Obviously, I must have been suffering from a mild case of insanity.
Resisting change is counterproductive
When something isn’t working, there is no need to wait until change is forced upon you. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about relationships, business decisions, food choices, or any other dimension of your life. Remember, staying with something that no longer works is a form of insanity.
When your standard approach quits producing the desired results, try something new. If that doesn’t work, try something else. Keep making adjustments until you start producing the result you are after.
Keep learning to keep progressing
One of the greatest life skills any of us can learn is to pay close attention to the result we get every time we change our approach to something. When we find something that works well, keep doing it. But if it doesn’t work, or it quits working, make adjustments. Life is a learning experience. True learning requires that we take action according to what we learn. As we learn from those new actions we can make further adjustments.
It would be nice if we could always get it right the first time, but that’s not reality. Even an ocean liner is slightly off course about 90% of the time. Changing currents and wind direction mean that constant adjustments are necessary to stay on course.
There are a lot of things that can affect the results we produce. Some of them are predictable, others will be a surprise. But they all have one thing in common. They all require that we make constant adjustments and avoid insanity so that we can stay on course. Every successful person does this. It’s a simple formula that will allow us to continue producing our desired outcomes and avoid the self imposed insanity trap.
Why not take a careful look at your own life, and ask yourself the following questions:
1. What areas of my life no longer seem to be working?
2. What goals have I been unable to reach?
3. How long has this been going on?
4. What adjustments seem reasonable?
5. What’s preventing me from trying a new approach?
6. What price have I paid for not making adjustments?
7. When am I going to try something new?
Now write down three possible approaches for each area that needs some adjustment. Choose one approach, and take action. Notice how things changed. Were your new results better, the same, or worse? If they were better, look for ways to fine tune your new approach, and take more action. If they were the same or worse, try the next approach on your list.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change everything in your life all at once. Take on one challenge at a time, improve your results, then move to the next challenge.
Embrace change, avoid the self imposed insanity trap
Improving the quality of your life is not always about making huge changes all at once. Even small changes, made consistently can transform your life in a very short time. If you keep moving in the right direction, sooner or later you will wind up exactly where you want to be.
Life is a marvelous journey of learning and growing. If you learn to embrace change and be more adaptable, you’ll be able to avoid insanity and stay on course!
Have you ever had a similar experience?
Has changing your approach ever made a big difference?
I would love to hear about your thoughts!
If you enjoyed this article consider email updates!