There may be something to going to the dark side.
While it sounds like something out of a Star Wars movie, creating an enemy for yourself can drive you to be a better athlete. The enemy you create for yourself does not even have to know you are enemies! If you imagine a force working against you, you’re more likely to get fired up, resist temptations, and work harder to achieve your goals.
Embracing the Enemy
Have an enemy already? Perfect, use them! However, most people who are working out don’t actually compete to go against any one person. They are simply challenging themselves and do not look at others as competitors.
Of course, it’s actually just us against ourselves. For the times when we don’t want to admit that, providing a clear enemy to rebel against — a “they” who doesn’t want you to leave that extra cookie on the plate or out the door for a workout — can help us summon the tenacity we need to succeed. Even if, in reality, that “they” resides in each of us.
If you don’t already have one, pick an enemy and work hard to beat them. Here are some ways you’ll benefit:
You will establish meaningful benchmarks. Setting internal improvement targets is relatively easy, but to make a real change in your fitness. Maybe your competition has been working out 4 days a week on Strava. Maybe the your best friend is running an hour on every Sunday. You can’t compete unless you first determine what your competition is doing.
Adopt a new playbook. Coaches in all sports actively steal ideas, strategies, and plays from other coaches. Innovation is important and can help give you the edge. Determine how your enemy achieves great results. Look for processes, competencies, concepts, or strategies you can incorporate but also change an improve.
You will differentiate — in a meaningful way. Is the weather bad today? Is it late after work? Do you think your enemy is taking the day off? They might be and this is your opportunity to set yourself above them. Get your workout gear ready and get to it. Every day you are making progress while they are sitting around moves you forward even farther. Leverage those days to really improve yourself!
Greater focus comes naturally. We all risk falling prey to a “same (stuff), different day” mentality — but not when we’re out to win. When we compete, focus and drive are as natural as breathing. If your enthusiasm dips, just picture your enemy moving ahead and you’ll quickly shift back in gear. After all, while some people don’t care about winning, nobody likes to lose.
No matter what, you’ll have more fun at exercising. You will. Trust me.
No get out there and use your new enemy to fuel you!