I Went to the Gym for Just 5 Minutes, and It Teaches Me One Important Thing


Sunday afternoon 5: 45. I was in the middle of my analysis chapter, but already too sleepy to go on. My schedule reminded me to head to the gym at six. I didn’t feel like it because I might have saved some more time in front of my laptop.

5: 50. I was still struggling whether I should go or not. It is interesting when Hamlet’s struggle applies to something so trivial. By trivial I mean ‘grab a key, slip my feet into the shoes and go’. And I was still struggling.

Making a decision takes one second. Getting ready to go takes 2 minutes. I told myself ‘even if I’m going to the gym for a few pull-ups, it still counts.’ So there I went – the 2-minute-and-1-second execution took me to the gym. I finished 3 sets of 5 pull-ups and 2 sets of 10 tricep presses (I admit that’s not enough) in around 5 minutes and headed home.

6: 05. I made my trip to the gym, and I did not have to feel guilty for not going. I could then go for a quick shower and have my dinner.

That’s the power of ‘just starting’. Sometimes we are held back from doing something because the goal is too overwhelming: I want to get ripped and have six-packs; I want to write a book; I want to make a solo album all on my own. But when we ask ourselves, ‘why don’t we do it now?’ the common answers are ‘let me cut more carbs and eat more proteins first’, ‘let me master the language and learn some writing skills first’, ‘let me furbish my SoundCloud page first’. At the end of the day, we are doing nothing. It’s not the problem of starting the engine, but it’s the goals that freak us out. I panick a lot to just think of how much time I need to stay in the gym without taking away my time to work. But if I can be so disciplined to watch Netflix for just 15 minutes at the break, why shouldn’t I head to the gym for just a few reps?

Motivation just takes two minutes: If you put on your shoes and leave the house, that’s around 2 minutes. The two-minute rule helps us make decisions to start doing something. We don’t have to be experts first off, but if we don’t start, we never will. There are a lot of habits accumulating from the two minutes of determination: flossing one tooth, starting a new blog post with a title and blurb, reading one page of a book a day… you name it. I’m not saying everything can become a habit by doing it two minutes a day. If that’s something you want to start, stop hesitating. Just start.

My habits accumulated so far: flossing, learning Turkish for 30 minutes a day, 10 push-ups every morning

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