We started with good intentions, we were going to start studying early, slowly, and make sure that we really knew the material before the final. But here we are, the final is two days away and we still need to read through the last half of the text-book. So like we’ve done before when woefully behind, we rise to herculean efforts just to pass the test. We cram as much information as we can in our short-term memory, take the final, pass the class, and then just as quickly forget what we learned.
For most of us, it’s been a while since we did that for a class, but we still find ourselves in this pattern for goals or projects in our lives. We find ourselves crash dieting or pulling all-nighters at work to get things done and while there is little doubt this provides results in the short-term, it rarely leads to the long-term change we desire. Sometimes it makes our long-term prospects worse.
When learning to run long distances experienced runners recommend ramping only 10% a week, with some weeks to take a step back. Not doing this can lead to injuries that we struggle to recover from. Doing this requires discipline both to go slowly when you feel great, and to keep it up when you feel horrible. We can’t cram our way to fitness even if we want to. Staying disciplined with small things over time leads to the long-term changes we hope for.