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Humans, by nature, are a very cautious group. We’re the try-it-before-you-buy-it type. Almost everything we buy or do, we approach with a bit of skepticism, and it’s holding us back from achieving great things – the kind of achievements people write books and movies about. I’m arguing for the “go for it at all costs” crowd. The thrill seekers challenging the status quo and going all-in.

Skepticism Evolves

The first thing to realize is that this skeptical appeal to the world and our surroundings was developed and is continually developed by our experiences. Being cautious is beneficial for our survival. Our ancestors learned very early on not to trust everything presented to them. It’s written in our gene code to be somewhat skeptical. This skepticism prevented our ancestors from being devoured by lions and backstabbed by friends. It’s the same skepticism that leads you to think that some things just are too good to be true.

This amount of skepticism is greatly influenced by your past and your current surroundings. If you’ve been the target of a bad business deal, you’re more likely to be cautious in future business ventures. It’s in your genetic code to become much more analytical of the situation before diving head first. This approach helps to further our society. We become more advanced and develop processes to prevent future mishaps. These experiences develop the basics of our beliefs. For instance, we associate higher education with larger incomes. That leads us to the belief that if you get a doctorate, you will be at the top of the food chain salary-wise. It also leads us to believe that staying in school is a safe play and therefore dropping out is a rare thought. This “play it safe” attitude carries over into many aspects of our lives: how we manage our money, who we associate with, and so on. It also carries over into what we purchase, how we pursue dreams, and how we experience life. This attitude is holding us back because it limits the go-for-it spirit that causes you to drop everything and pursue something you want.

All the Big Fish Went Head First

It seems as if every huge entrepreneur story is similar. A very enlightened, young individual achieves something great by risking it all and ignoring the social norms for education and business advancement. For example, you’ve heard time and time again the story of Steve Jobs dropping out of college, and yet he became the visionary of the most valuable company in the world.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living out the life of other people’s thinking. – Steve Jobs Click to Tweet

Similar stories exist all over. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year to pursue Facebook. Hell, even Ben Affleck dropped out of college to pursue acting.

The point is not that college is a waste of time. I spent six years of my life in college and grad school, and I’m much better off for it.

The idea is that social norms are limiting your success. In fact, norms exist for just that reason, they are “normal”. In order to be extraordinary, to see amazing results and achievements, we need to bust out of the rut and go head first.

Let’s tie this back to fitness and your health.

Enter Melissa.

Melissa is a client of mine that has seen quite amazing results. In all actuality, the results aren’t incredible, but they are extremely consistent – and that’s a rare find in the health and fitness world. Every time we’ve evaluated our progress (every two weeks), she’s down another 1-1.5 pounds…every…single…time… across a three month timeframe.  Her strength also increases from week to week at a constant rate.

Why is she so different? How is she seeing results that many others aren’t? Is she a superwoman? Maybe.

The truth is, she’s no different than the majority of individuals looking to lose a little bit of weight. She’s a mom which means she dedicates much of her time to taking care of her daughter. She works a full-time job so time is a luxury. She’s not a super athlete. So, what’s so different about her approach?

She went all in. 

When Melissa started training, she didn’t just start there. She also did some metabolic testing, stress hormone testing, picked up a heart rate monitor, and evaluated her diet. Now, she logs everything she eats and does. All of her training is done through a heart rate monitor and she hasn’t missed a single session. Not once. Not even when the Denver Broncos were playing on a Thursday night (she’s a big fan), and the game wasn’t on the TV’s upstairs. Every time we meet, she can recall exactly what she ate the previous few days. She made a decision that this was her time to make a change, and she went for it.

Compare that to the typical approach of evaluating one variable at a time and slowly adding in components to build up a successful plan over the next few months.

Was it a gamble? Sure. She invested a lot of her time and resources in her fitness regimen. It required extreme dedication and commitment to her program to stay on track. Not only did she meet me twice a week, but she also did cardio for an hour a day on her own three times a week.

Did it pay off? Hell yeah it did. Most importantly, it continues to pay off. We aren’t done yet. Far from it.

The Motivation of Going All-in

There’s an element of fear in throwing all of your chips in the pot. First off, the risk of failure is huge. If you don’t achieve what you set out to do, you’ve now wasted quite a few resources. But, I’m going to argue that committing yourself fully to the plan and the goal will produce better results.

Going all-in is a commitment device. 

Commitment devices are there for those that don’t believe they can do something on their own. GymPact is one example of a commitment device out today. Users get paid when they attend the gym but get penalized (by losing money) if they miss out. One guy even opted to charge himself $100 every time he didn’t go to the gym.

Putting all of your eggs in one basket is a way of committing yourself fully to a task. Sure, you may get burned, but that’s a risk we take in order to achieve something great. Every one of the business leaders mentioned above took a risk by dropping out of formal education, which is considered a necessary means of success by today’s standards. For some, safety is the enemy of forward progress. Playing it safe with nothing to lose ensures that you actually don’t get anywhere.

For some, safety is the enemy of forward progress. Click to Tweet!

Don’t invest all of your money in the stock market.

Don’t drop out of college (unless you have a great idea that you think will make millions).

Do invest your effort into something you’re very passionate about. Pour your heart and soul into something even if the payoff is not guaranteed. If it’s your health, make sacrifices and put your nutrition/exercise/relaxation first for a month. Count calories, prepare food, workout, invest in new workout gear. If it’s your happiness, take time off for yourself, take a vacation, do something that truly makes you happy.

Don’t be afraid of failing. Go all-in and see what happens.

Have you gone all-in and experienced success recently? Did you love or hate this post? Tell me in the comments below. If I get 10 comments on this post I’ll drop another one this week about staying motivated on your fitness routine (interviews included).

Leave a Thought

  1. I don’t know about this. As one who loves to gamble and take risks I typically have no problem ‘going all-in.’ I also have an above-average level of perseverance, which aids me in being able to fully commit my all to something – from nothing. The average American and typical trainee though? Not that I don’t want to have faith in them, but i’m a realist…and let’s be real. I think a slower approach through habit formation will keep their results coming long-term. Going all-in may work for a period of time and provide some nice burst results, but few can maintain this level of consistency and commitment through a lifetime. Hence why there are so many rebound weight-loss stories. So why not just start from the get-go with a slower habitual approach and avoid the falling off-stage that tends to happen after a few months.

    • Hey Mike,

      I definitely agree with the slower approach, but I also think that some individuals need to experience a high level of success to see the value in giving up things they love. When they make one change at a time, they see very small results that don’t seem worth giving up soda or their favorite dessert.

      I think both avenues work it just depends on the person. Also, I’m not advocating to adopt completely unhealthy habits that are unsustainable, but rather change the diet to a healthier one (still including a cheat day) and start exercising at the same time. I’m just saying address more than one variable at a time. Wouldn’t work for everyone, but I think it would for some.

      • Also, when I’m thinking ‘all-in’ i’m thinking a person going from 0 hours of exercise to 5-7 hours per week and from a loose diet to a very controlled diet. I agree though that it’s per-individual, especially those who are already at a great health risk due to their lifestyle. They should 100% revamp everything, because they don’t have the leeway for a slow approach. Good post! Hope the new life is well, I have my sights on CO myself in the next couple years.

  2. Awesome! And not just because you mentioned me! 😉 I could have made a million excuses, but if I had only partially committed to my goal I know I wouldn’t have seen good enough results. That would have discouraged me & I would have decided it wasn’t worth it & quit. Fully committing to every aspect, “going all in” was what made the difference! Thanks Jeremy for the great comments & for helping me stay on track!