This is my 3rd attempt at this week’s blog post. I started working on it last Monday, but I’ve procrastinated big time. I’ve stopped and started over and over again deleting everything I typed out. Nothing I was saying felt right. It’s been so frustrating because I wholeheartedly believe in this topic. It just didn’t feel authentic.
Taylor and I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about doing “hard things”. He said I should write about it and at the time it seemed like a good idea, but as I started to write, nothing sounded right. I felt like I was pretending to be something that I’m not… or someone who I don’t feel like is me.
This post is supposed to be about doing “hard” things to get stronger, physically and mentally. I think I didn’t like anything I was writing last week because I don’t feel like I do hard things.
Sure, I gave birth to 4 kids and at one point in time had 3 of them in diapers, all different sizes. 🤦🏽♀️ I decided to take on a fixer upper during a pandemic with my husband. I’m a small business owner. I work out at least 5 days a week. I run hard races that are crazy, stupid distances . . . I guess these things could be classified as hard, but I don’t feel like they’re that hard. It’s just life.
Taylor, on the other hand, he does hard things.
He takes cold showers in the morning and has been doing so since the summer started. He did this during Covid, but eventually stopped when the weather got colder. His goal now is to do this for an entire year. He sets a timer for 17 minutes every morning and endures the pain. Crazy, right?! Why does he do it? Health benefits, for sure, but mainly because he says that it’s hard and it make him mentally tougher.
Every chance that he can get to be in the woods he will take it. One of his favorite things to do is to go hunting. Come rain or shine, sleet or snow, even when he’s tired and would rather stay in bed, he can’t resist the urge to head out into the darkness and wait for the woods to come “alive”.
Cold weather? Dark woods? Early mornings? 😳 Umm, no thanks!
I don’t like being uncomfortable. I’m not a “roughing it” kind of girl. The idea of spending a weekend in the woods with no shower just doesn’t appeal to me. To Taylor, that sounds like heaven.
He pushes harder than anyone I know during workouts. If he hears someone say that something in a workout is impossible to do or can’t be done, he sets out to prove that it is possible.
Taylor is going to push hard whether he’s in a group or alone. If he’s working out alone, he’ll start talking to himself, pretending there are other people watching or telling him that he can’t do it. Sometimes he imagines what his future self would be saying about his performance or his effort. If it’s hard, he just pushes harder to see how far or how long he can take it.
I push myself during workouts, but not like him. I think I am much less self-disciplined than Taylor. I’m more moody and generally my effort is dependent on how I’m feeling that day. I push harder when I’m in a class or have someone to “compete” against. I hate to admit it, but if I’m alone then I’m probably just going through the motions. Self-talk just doesn’t work on me like it works for Taylor.
If it’s hard and I’m tired then I’m much more likely to concede. Naturally, I feel inclined to pull back when things (workouts in particular) get hard. When my heart rate gets above 80-85% of my max, my mind tells me that it’s good enough and I’ll pull back the intensity.
When I look back on my competitive days as a runner, I have a lot of regrets. I feel like I left a lot on the table and didn’t really reach my full potential. I can remember walking off the course of many races knowing that I had more to give. It’s a terrible feeling, but it’s so hard to push past those moments when you’re uncomfortable and everything hurts.
I think that’s pretty normal though. Who likes to be uncomfortable? It’s called a “comfort zone” for a reason. It’s where we feel safe and where we like to be. There’s a point during a workout or run where things really get to be difficult. That point is different with each individual, but it’s there for all of us.
Our knee jerk reaction is to pull back. Our mind tells us all the reasons that it’s imperative to stop… arms/legs are burning, it’s too hot and you’re going to pass out, it’s too cold and you can’t breathe, the weight is too heavy, a body part is aching and you’re going to get hurt if you don’t stop, everyone is watching you and you’re going to fail… we have all heard them. We have all caved to the excuses.
Taylor has pushed me to do hard things. He believes in me wholeheartedly. He encourages me and lifts me up every day. He believes in the best of me and he tries to convince me that I push myself so much harder than I did 10-15 years ago. He sees the progress and celebrates my victories. He sees potential that is often hard for me to see myself.
I talked a little in my last blog post about being my own worst critic. It’s true. I see the best in everyone else and often completely diminish all the positive things about myself often focusing only on what I view as negative qualities, traits and failures.
As a coach, it’s easy for me to believe in a client and convince them that they are capable of doing whatever seems hard at the moment. I believe in them and their ability with everything that I have. When it comes to myself though, it’s hard for me to have the same faith. My doubts and insecurities cloud my vision and most often all I can focus on is the potential for failure.
I do see the benefit of pushing ourselves to do hard things. If I didn’t then I wouldn’t encourage our clients to do it. I also understand how hard it is to do those hard things. I’m human too. My mind and body encourage me to stay in that comfort zone. The problem with the comfort zone is that it doesn’t help us grow.
Doing hard things, things that scare us or intimidate us, things that we don’t “like” to do are usually the things that make us better. Doing the hard things helps us know what we’re made of and gives us the confidence to try something new even when it’s scary. It’s not fun being uncomfortable, but you never get better when you do “fun” things. You never feel accomplished or proud when you do something fun. You never learn anything about yourself when things come easy. Sure, it’s fun, but does leave you feeling fulfilled?
When I take a step back and honestly look back on my past, it’s easy for me to see what Taylor sees. I have changed. I do work harder and I do push myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. All of the hard things that I have pushed myself to do in the last 10 years have made me a stronger person. They’ve gotten me to where I am now and I’m better for it.
When my mind starts spewing all the excuses and tries to pull me to the dark side, I try to stay positive and push through it. I’m not always successful, but I’m aware of it and I put forth the effort to try to be the best version of myself that I can be. The more I push myself to do hard things the easier it is to do it the next time.
So, I guess I’ll end this long blog post with a challenge…
What are the things that scare you? What do you secretly want to try, but never do because you’re scared of what will happen if you’re unsuccessful? What sounds outrageous or impossible to you? Think about those things and then pick one. Even if you aren’t successful, you’ll be stronger because of the lessons you learn along the way. Life is too short to just live comfortably, so go out and do something hard.
“Don’t pray for an easy life because nothing great ever comes without adversity.”