'How to' is a seductive short cut

There's something alluring about a quick 'how to' solution. Skip the reasons and the science, and just tell me what I need to do already!


Here's the ironic thing. You could probably figure out the 'how to' for your goal pretty easily. Just ask Google or delve into Amazon and you can find ample information about diets, protocols, supplements, nutrition and training. There are more scientific studies than ever, and many are open access. If you look for it, you can even find credible sources on social media that package a broad collection of tips, tricks and techniques into the tidy boundaries of a simple square frame. Then there's an array of anecdotal stories and personal experiences, shared to inspire and educate others.


But it's not enough. Researcher Brene Brown calls the 'how to' a 'seductive short cut'. She puts it bluntly.

The 'how to' of a diet or training program is the easy bit. But it inevitably crumbles if you don't attend to the deeper barriers that hide just under the surface.


Is this protocol going to complement your mind and body?


Are there things that you need to manage first?


Can you set things up to play to your strengths and navigate your struggles?


Are you in the right head space for that?


And is this going to be practical for you at the moment?


Funnily enough, our assets and our demons are often crafted from the same cloth. For example, if you're going to attain a ridiculously lean physique, you'll probably need to be a little obsessive. Or a lot obsessive. Is this a good or bad thing? It really depends on the circumstances.


My meticulous attention to detail put me in a strong position to monitor and adjust my nutrition and broader factors to manipulate my body composition. I thrive in conditions that demand discipline and precision. But that analytical tendency is the same thing that can quickly consume my mind, trigger anxiety and feed self doubt. It's fine if I have something to channel that into, but it's another story if it's suddenly let loose in my head. I need to manage that. For me, journalling is the most potent antidote to the I'm-never-good-enough spiral, but I can also find calm in meditating and listening to others reflect on their stories. This is not about 'fixing' you. It's about embracing all that is you and setting things up so that your unique traits shine, rather than succumb to self sabotage. But that doesn't happen unless you prioritise it.


The message is simple. Rather than focus on the 'how to', delve into the 'why' first. Can you articulate the reason that your goal matters to you? Are you able to pinpoint your common triggers - or as Brene calls it, 'the things that get in the way' - before they lead you to stumble? Identify your road blocks ahead of time so that you can plan your detour. If you can do that, you've realised the most exciting 'how to' there is - how to redirect your limiting factors into potent strengths.