When I was younger I spent a lot of time playing games.

In addition to countless hours online playing computer games, I became a strong competitive chess player.

But I was always drawn more to the aesthetics and complexity of Go, even though I was much better at chess than I was at Go.

Go is played on a 19x19 board with black and white stones, the aim is to capture territory and surround your opponent.

Chess programs have been stronger than the strongest human grandmasters for many years, it was only recently that AlphaGo defeated the world's strongest Go player, Lee Sedol.

In the game of Go there's a concept called "looking for a place to resign."

Looking for a place to resign is when a strong player makes a move that obviously does not work, resigning when their opponent plays the correct response.

The idea is part of the elaborate etiquette of Go, choosing to end the game at a point when you are clearly behind, but doing it in a way that is more aesthetically pleasing than simply resigning.

I am particularly fond of this because it's a motif I see outside of board games.

Working with clients for almost a decade I've noticed that people are often "looking for a place to resign" with their fitness goals.

Here are some examples of goals people set themselves:

  • "I want to lose fat as quickly as possible."
  • "I'm going to eat a plant based diet from now on."
  • "I'm going to workout every day."
  • "I'm giving up alcohol."
  • "I want to get stronger but I also want to be able to run a marathon."

Any one of those goal statements would represent a significant lifestyle change, requiring a collection of complex skills and habits.

But you would be surprised how many people try to do all of them at once.

What they're doing is constructing a scenario where it's almost guaranteed that they will fail.

Instead of making it as simple as possible, finding the smallest set of changes with the biggest payoff, and looking for opportunities to accumulate wins, they're looking for a place to resign.

Rather than speculating on the reasons why people do this, I think it's more important to recognise when it's happening in your own life.

Are you creating unnecessary complexity?

Are you focusing on everything that could go wrong instead of concentrating on what you need to do to succeed?

Are you more satisfied with a quick, easy loss than a long, difficult win?

If that sounds familiar, you need to examine your thinking and discover what is really important to you.