5 Good Rules for the Gym (which are also Good Rules for the Office)

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5 Good Rules for the Gym (which are also Good Rules for the Office)

By Jon Harris">Jon HarrisIn standard8th October, 2014


  1. Stick to a realistic plan.


Theoretically we all know we should do this, both in the gym and at work, but there are lots of obstacles to doing so. We might be distracted by glancing at something of interest on a screen; we might persuade ourselves that tiredness is forcing us to cut a corner and not do our full allocation of tasks; we might get carried away and go too far one day when we knew that a niggling injury should have been treated with more care.


Just by sticking to a pre-arranged set of activities, we make it more likely that the objective of those activities will be realised.  We enhance our control of situations and we remove the random elements that can throw things off course.


Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychology, said: “I see that it is the expectation of success in the desired behaviour, as opposed to the fear of failure, which most often brings that success about in reality”.  There’s no doubt that in the gym we are better off setting a realistic target and sticking to it, than setting too high a target and failing.  So it is at work.  The over-demanding sales target which is bound to fail will depress everybody.  A better long-term strategy is usually to grow sales incrementally, building on the feelgood factor of small successes.



  1. Don’t walk alone.


Humans are object-seeking animals.  By and large, we achieve things better by collaborating than by separating ourselves from others.  Some people prefer to plough their own furrow and this is often successful, though I’ve yet to meet the person who didn’t enjoy or benefit from sharing experiences in conversation with a willing and sympathetic opposite number.  We tend to like and enjoy having our experiences “reflected back” to us.


Making your gym time exclusively solo-time is OK, but it can get a little wearing if you never vary this.  It’s fun to train with a friend or go to a group class, even if you only do this on occasion.  Even pausing by the watercooler with an acquaintance and chatting for a moment is beneficial to your social and mental well-being.


And so it is at work too.  Follow your own instincts by all means, and do what you believe is right; but you’ll always be limited if you can’t achieve things as part of a team as well.  Seek out like-minded people and spend time with them.



  1. Look up to someone.


We are hard-wired to need and enjoy the approval of those in authority over us.  In my work, when I hear people talk about their satisfaction at having impressed their boss, I’m often reminded of this quotation from the Bible: “I have only ever asked for one thing; this is the thing I seek; to belong in God’s house”.  We all want to be “in” with the big guy (or girl).


Now I’m not suggesting that we invite our boss over to the gym to watch us and be impressed as we bench-press 50Kg (though let’s face it that probably WOULD impress them).   But we can “use” our personal trainers at the gym in lieu of a “boss” in this respect.  Make your personal trainer interested in and enthusiastic about your progress; make a point of seeing them when you come to the gym whenever they are there, and telling them what you did today.  They won’t mind, in fact it’s what they are there for, and it will help you enjoy your gym progress more.


Similarly, your boss wants to know when you’ve done something well and when you are happy about it.  Don’t hide these moments.





4.      You’re cleverer than the machines.


We’ve become so reliant on technology these days that we’re in danger of letting it take over.  We feel powerless if our Blackberrys go down.  And if we go up to one of our usual machines in the gym and it’s out of order, our first thought might be, oh well, have to skip that exercise…..


WRONG!  There is always an equal, if not better alternative exercise, on another type of machine or using free weights.  We’re easily capable of devising this ourselves or getting help from gym staff to do so.  There’s no reason why mechanical and technological problems should obstruct our objectives.


We should cultivate that attitude at work too.  Find other ways round problems, re-order tasks, talk to colleagues about how to circumvent logistical problems – don’t just spend all your time and energy being frustrated about the broken computer or the delayed delivery.




  1. Smile.


Keep reminding yourself that the gym is a pleasure, not a chore.  When you’re having trouble keeping that in mind, smile.  Then smile again, then smile some more.

Do this at work too.  I promise you that nobody ever felt worse after smiling.  It cannot do anything but help you.  None of us is paid enough to be miserable at work, so keep reminding yourself about the good things, about all the good you can achieve for yourself and for others wherever you go in your daily life.









This blog is by Jon Harris



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