Nike and the F word: How to motivate yourself into action

Warning! This post contains a naughty word. This one starts with F, and ends with K. But it’s a relevant story- one I only recently heard, and one which has had an immediate, dramatic and positive impact on my effectiveness and productivity.

Productive, successful executives are those able to consistently tackle and get done difficult and big challenges. It’s a constant struggle for me. How do they do it?

Frankly- I don’t know, but I do know how I get more of the important things done, and recently learnt a great additional tip from a book by fitness guru Michelle Bridges, who made her name as the fitness coach on the TV show, ‘Australia’s Biggest Loser.’

Michelle’s tip is to J.F.D.I. – Just Fucking Do It! But there’s a twist.

In motivating her clients to exercise, her approach goes something like this: when you wake up at 6 am for your run, and it’s dark and cold and you’re convincing yourself to get back into bed, don’t. Instead, J.F.D.I., and make this deal with yourself. Just commit to exercising for 10 minutes. If after that time you still don’t feel like doing it, then return home and put the kettle on. That’s the deal. J.F.D.I. … and just fucking do it for 10 minutes.

Michelle reports she has had some of her best workouts ever when she’s J.F.D.I. with a deal with herself that if after 10 minutes she still wants to go back to bed, she can. Once you start, and get 10 minutes under the belt, you’re on a roll, and you’ll keep going.

The Lesson for Each Of Us

Got a big proposal to write? Client meeting your team wants you to go to but you really, really don’t feel like it? 20 media calls to make to set up the media conference and you know it’s going to be a hard sell? A stack of staff appraisal forms to complete?  Often it seems like the more important the task, the harder is it to get started. So, to get more of the difficult and big challenges done, faster:

  1. Identify your BIG ROCK: Identify your most critical, ‘must do’ task every day: I call this my Big Rock.
  2. Start the day with it: Plan so you are able to make a start on your Big Rock first thing, or as soon as possible, the next day.
  3. Prepare the night before: If possible, get ready whatever you will need to make a start on your Big Rock: documents, research reports, phone numbers. Clear your desk except for these items.
  4. And then J.F.D.I… make a start as soon as you get to work, and if you’re really, really not in the mood, just commit to doing it for 10 minutes.

SURPRISE! You got it done- again! I am using J.F.D.I. several times a day now – every time that voice says “Nah- do it later”. “Nah, says the other voice, I’ll J.F.D.I instead.”  Give it a go. It works!

> View a video of Chris retelling this post

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30 Responses to Nike and the F word: How to motivate yourself into action

  1. Andrew Bex July 13, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Love it. Every employee should take on these simple 4 letters. Takes away all the excuses of can’t, too hard, not my job.

    • Chris Savage July 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

      Thanks Andrew. Agree wholeheartedly. Chris

  2. Susan RM July 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Nice one Chris, have sent this on to my mentoree and my team. Also may use it myself (though not with exercise at 6am, Nike or no Nike) 🙂

  3. Sam July 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Great post Chris, I like to use a Jay-Z lyric to help me tackle the ‘too hard’ stuff.

    “Difficult takes a day, Impossible takes a week.”

    When faced with a ‘difficult’ project the quote reminds me that I might not get it done in a day, but can get a lot done after making a start, while the ‘impossible’ may be someone else’s definition of the project and won’t get in the way of attempting to pull-off the impossible.


    • Chris Savage July 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

      Thanks Sam. That’s a great quote. And thanks for forwarding the post on Twitter. Chris

  4. George July 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Thanks Chris,

    Enjoyed this tip.
    Getting up for the 6am run is an all too familiar battle.

  5. Michael Hyams July 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Great advice Chris, both for my exercise regime this winter and for my business. Nothing feels better than breaking the back of task that has been put off time and again. But starting them off is always the hardest part. Your strategy is simple, but gold and I’m going to try it right now.

    • Chris Savage July 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      Thanks Michael. I find I use JFDI about five times a day! Chris

  6. MG July 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Great Chris, love this, and love your Big Rock reference. In our office, we like to ‘Eat our Frogs’ first thing in the morning – once you swallow that sucker, your day looks so much better!

    • Chris Savage July 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      Thanks Melinda! It’s a great habit to get in to. Chris

  7. Steven H July 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Brilliant post thanks Chris!

    That whole notion of clearing your desk of everything but that one big task certainly helps, it’s never easy to concentrate on it if the are 12 little and easier tasks sitting to your left. Cheers

    • Chris Savage July 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

      Thanks Steven. So true! Chris

  8. Haley July 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Love this post Chris, I now have a big J.F.D.I post-it note hanging off my computer screen!

  9. Carolyn July 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Once again you’ve totally motivated and inspired me! Thanks so much Chris.

  10. David D July 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm #


    The “JFDI for 10 minutes” worked a treat this morning when the thought of staying in bed was VERY enticing.

    Keep ’em coming… the risk of pre-empting a future posting I’m still eating a lot of frogs thanks to you.

    • Chris Savage July 18, 2011 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks David! Good to hear from you and glad you’re enjoying them. Chris

  11. Daniel Benton July 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    I love this post it’s a great tip to stay productive and to get things done and is applicable to numerous situations. In a similar vein to “eating frogs” a tip I try to follow is to “do the thing I fear the most first”. Starting the day tackling a challenging task always boosts my productive output and mood.

  12. Chris Savage July 21, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Thanks Daniel- I love Eat That Frog too. Use it every day! Chris

  13. Gary September 7, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Great article, moreover because it effects every aspect of everyone’s lives, regardless of industry or role. Think I’ve probably mentioned this 10 times in the last 2 weeks from getting up and going to the gym at stupid o’clock, to taking on that wave that you know if too big, or facing that phone call you don’t want to make.

    You’ll feel better after. Just F$%king Do It.

    • Chris Savage September 7, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Glad it has helped Gary.


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