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I originally intended the title to evoke pictures of a “method actor” trying to understand the real reason the character was doing something but realised some people may not have heard of this scenario; hence the subtitle.

Very often in life, we find ourselves making the obvious decision.  The one we think we should be making but pausing and searching back to look at your original motivations can sometimes help you make a better decision.  Forgive me but I am, again, going to use a sporting analogy to make the point.

As a runner, I was considering buying new running shoes.  Many brands are now following the example of the Nike Vapourfly and inserting a carbon spring plate into the sole of their running shoes to give you extra spring forward with each step.  This is just one of the more recent trends in the field of “energy return” the shoes absorbing the energy of your foot strike and returning it as a boost to your stride – initially many brands used different types of foam in the sole but now its carbon plates.  World records have been broken using these shows – who wouldn’t want them??

So there I am considering the purchase of some frankly extortionately prices running shoes because they’re the best, the thing to have, they’ll make me faster.  But why?

I am not a competitive runner.  I don’t need “marginal gains” to keep pace or beat the next athlete.  I run for the headspace and general health as well as the pure joy of being outdoors.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t stop me from pushing myself and obsessing over my times and performance.  

But here’s the thing.  In this scenario, there are two routes to beating my PB’s.  I can train more and maybe harder or I can buy the performance with a shoe.  So, what’s my motivation?  On the surface, it’s to “improve my running” which can be objectively measured by my pace and times.  However, if I smash my PB’s simply putting on a pair of expensive running shoes have I actually “improved”?  Taking a step back the “obvious” decision is now not so obvious.  Would I like to feel the exhilaration of being faster and breaking my PBs – absolutely of course I would.  It may also be an ego boost that my friend may congratulate me on being faster, but for me, I won’t have actually improved in an objective sense.

I’m not passing judgement.  There are perfectly valid reasons for choosing either way.  All I am saying is that sometimes we forget why we are doing something, Of course, our reasons and motivation can change over time.  It is the pause for “why I am really doing this?” that may help us to keep making decisions in line with our values and motivation and therefore lead to long term happiness and fulfilment.

PS if you’ve got the Vapourfly’s do feel free to tell me how much faster you got (or maybe didn’t).

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