If you are feeling stuck, stymied, or dissatisfied with the lack of progress in achieving one of your goals, try infusing your routine with a sprint commitment.
What is a sprint commitment?
Drawing on my experience with athletics, it is a focused, short-term burst of activity which challenges you to accelerate your momentum and surpass your status quo.
Back when I rowed on my college crew team, during strategic moments in our race the coxswain would shout to the rowers, “Give me a power-ten” which meant that we had to put forth our strongest and best strokes to drive the boat forward. This boost provided added momentum at strategic moments during the race, most often used to pass another boat.
Similarly, interval training relies on alternating low and high-intensity workouts. Typically your high-intensity workouts are brief and accelerated and the low-intensity workouts are much longer and slower allowing for recovery. This kind of training has been shown to provide significant health benefits.
How can you take this “sprint” concept and apply it to other areas of your life?
Let’s say you are job hunting and typically you apply for 2 – 3 jobs a week. There might be some weeks that slip by with no activity. With a sprint commitment you might set these goals:
- Send 10 resumes in 10 days.
- Reach out to 5 people for informational interviews in 5 days.
- Attend 4 networking events in the next 2 weeks.
Maybe adding exercise to your daily routine is a goal. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Exercise 5 minutes for 5 days.
- Walk for 15 minutes for 3 days over a 7 day period.
- Take up weight bearing exercise 3x a week for one week: choose one for legs, one for arms, and one for the abdomen to get you started.
If you are already exercising, you can create your own sprint goals that take you slightly out of your comfort zone for a short duration.
Eating healthy is always a personal goal for me especially after holidays because I have let my sweet tooth guide my food intake to lots of extra desserts. Here are some ways I have gotten back on track:
- No dessert for 7 days.
- Take the 10-day fruit challenge – Replace a piece of fruit with a dessert for 10 days.
- 5-Day Veggie increase. Have 2 servings of vegetables at dinner: one is a green salad and the other is a vegetable of your choice.
Improve your relationships with some better habits such as these sprint commitments:
- Reach out to someone new and say hello and engage in a conversation.
- 5-Days of Compliments. Start off with noticing or saying something positive to your friends or colleagues.
- 7-Days of Better Listening- When someone has finished talking, instead of jumping back into the conversation with your advice, practicing reflective listening by responding with comments such as: “It sounds like you are….” or “Tell me more about that…”
I find that a sprint commitment is a great tool to help stay focused for a very short period of time, encourage a new behavior, and get closer to a goal. Even though your steps may seem small, if you keep the commitment and challenge yourself just slightly out of your comfort zone, they should propel you forward.
Give it a try and let me know your results in the comments below.
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When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H Pink
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg