There are two ways to succeed with your fitness goals.
- Focus on every single little detail.
- Focus on the one or two most important factors and let the rest take care of itself.
The concept of the Big Wins was first introduced to me by Ramit Sethi and it’s one of the best approaches to every area of life I’ve ever come across.
Let’s look at two different people who are trying to lose weight.
Sarah wants to lose weight after having her two kids. She tracks every single calorie she eats, every single rep she does, makes sure she weighs all of her food… She quickly burns out from living such a rigid live and falls off the wagon. Then, like clockwork, she’s back on her schedule and falling off again two weeks later. She’s completely stressed and her fitness goals make her feel guilty instead of inspired.
Rebecca wants to lose some weight after she realized she put on extra weight while finishing her Master’s degree. She tracks her food for a week to get a ballpark of where she is. She writes out an average daily diet to carry with her so she knows if she’s generally on track or not. She doesn’t stress too much when she has extra food but she makes sure to get in every workout throughout the week and get enough sleep at night. She knows she could lose the weight faster if she tracked every little detail, but she’s inspired by her goals and can see the weight coming off. She doesn’t start and stop again because she’s not stressing herself out.
These are simple examples, but these are completely different approaches to goals that yield completely different results.
The purpose of the Big Wins is to identify the main areas that bring the biggest results and make sure you do them. It frees you from having to focus on the little details that drive you crazy.
Now, if you are competing in a fitness competition, it’s important to focus on the little details as well. In that case, you could use the Big Wins in the other areas of your life: relationships, finances, career, etc.
With fitness, the biggest pillars to your success are:
- Working out most days of the week
- Having a general idea of your current calorie intake
- Getting enough sleep
The fitness world is a billion dollar industry that tries to convince people that it’s somehow more complicated than that, and it’s not.
Sure, there’s a million ways to approach each of those pillars (counting macros, Crossfit, paleo, and so on), but the basics stay the same.
When you keep your pillars consistent, that’s when you can focus on mixing it up.
If you skip 50% of your workouts, no program in the world (good or bad) will get you in shape.
If you only sleep a few hours a night, your results will suffer.
If you don’t have a diet that supports your goals, you can work out hard every day in the gym but you won’t see the results you want.
Being consistent with the Big Wins will change everything.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to change them all overnight if you’re just starting. You can simply pick one area and build the habit before moving on to the next one.
In other areas of your life, the Big Win approach looks like this:
- With your career, you focus on meeting the right people who can get you in a position you want. You’re active when it comes to knowing if you’re in the right career at all and you rarely end up in a position or job you don’t want.
- With your finances, you automate as much as possible: your savings, paying down debt, your 401K, etc., and you focus on bringing in more than worrying about buying a latte every few days. That means you are prepped for your conversation with your boss asking for a raise and maybe you even start a side hustle to bring in extra money.
- With your relationship, you make sure you find the right partner in the first place. A lot of relationship stress comes from trying to make it work with someone who you shouldn’t be with at all. Once you do that, you focus on the big things that make them happy. Maybe that’s spending quality time together, maybe it’s putting your phone away when you talk to them, maybe that means a date night out… Identify the big wins and be consistent.
- With your productivity, that means every day making a list of the three biggest things you could do to progress in life and doing them. It doesn’t mean a million tactics to become more productive, it just means getting the essential things done.
- With your home, that means you declutter and only have the things around you that make you happy. Finally organizing a whole bunch of stuff you don’t even want in the first place makes no sense. Then, you focus on cleaning the “Hot Spots” – the areas where you’re around the most often.
Of course, with all of these once you master the Big Wins you can focus on the little details. You can tweak your productivity system, you can invest your money in the stock market, you can try different approaches at your job, but no little tactic will get the same results as focusing on the biggest pillars.
None of this is sexy.
Tactics, hacks, new equipment/gear… all of that feels sexier.
Focusing on getting enough sleep doesn’t feel as fun as getting a new pair of running shoes. Setting up a new productivity system at work instead of having that uncomfortable feeling of asking your boss for a raise seems sexier. Hooking up with someone new sounds way more fun than doing the work and thinking about what you need in a relationship.
I totally, totally get it.
Believe me, I am a tactic addict.
I probably have thousands of bookmarks of websites with little hacks here and there, most of which I’ve tried. Even with all of that testing, nothing beats focusing on the big pillars.
Take some time this week to sit and think about your big pillars in your life. What are the essential things that hold your life together? Are you giving them the right amount of focus? If not, what do you want to focus on first?
Focus on the big wins and watch how it all comes together.