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Getting Through the Grind

How do we keep pushing when things get hard? Those days when motivation seems to fade, and you wake up and everything you wanna do feels difficult. How do you push through these times of doubt and fatigue? Getting through the grind is about understanding why you are feeling the way you are feeling. It’s about understanding why your goals for tomorrow are more important than your sacrifices today. And it’s about setting up systems for yourself that eliminate excuses.


Let’s first walk through why getting what you want is never easy. Then we will discuss what to do about it.


Why Are Great Things Hard?


No one rolls up the mountain

If you take a ball and put it on the middle of a hill, which way is it going to go? Up the hill, or down the hill? We all know the answer. Life is set up for that ball to go down. Ten times out of ten, that ball is going to roll down the hill. That’s why nobody has to set goals for themselves to make their lives worse. There is no demotivational speaker circuit. People aren’t saying to themselves, oh i wish i had less than i have now. Less time, less money, less energy, less health. Those things just happen to us. No need to plan. Just roll down the hill like that ball. If you read through my article on Finding Your Mountain you will notice i didn’t call it Find Your Valley. Valleys are something you can casually descend into, or sometimes life shoves you off the ledge and you roll face first into it. Mountains on the other hand take extreme energy. It takes incredible effort to climb up a mountain. They are steep and dangerous. In researching for this article i found some interesting and scary facts about climbing Mount Everest, “Climbers burn 20,000 calories on the day of the summit climb, and an average of 10,000 a day on the rest of the climb.” 20,000 calories!! That’s like a week’s worth of food for some people! It also said that “Winds on the mountain have been recorded at more than 200mph.” And that “One in 10 successful climbs to the summit ends in death.” There is no rolling up Mount Everest. No one ever got lost at the mall and found themselves at the summit. It is incredibly hard on your body and your mind. Great things take planning, skill, will, and incredible effort.


The saboteur

As if life didn’t make it hard enough on us, there is a second aggressor trying to keep us from achieving our goals. A quieter one. A saboteur. It is our own mind. Our own brain tries to keep us from striving for greatness. Our minds have developed a defense mechanism to keep us safe, and that mechanism is to keep us comfortable and keep us away from any unknowns and any possible discomfort. Our brain tells us every morning that we can should sleep a little longer. Tells us that we are tired and we need more rest. When we step outside our door and feel the biting cold, our brain tells us that it is dangerous for us to be out there, and it is better to stay safe and stay home. I bet money that even as you read the last paragraph about the mountain, your brain whispered, “it’s too hard, we might as well quit now”. I know my brain said it to me many times as i was writing. If we succumb to our thoughts and emotions, we will never reach our potential, because they are pushing against us, not for us.


Opportunity

So the cards seem to be stacked against us. Many people use this knowledge as a reason (excuse), to not try. Most people, either quit when it gets a little hard, or they dont even let themselves dream because they just see the 200 mile an hour winds and decide that its not worth it.


Let me encourage you that these hardships are actually a blessing and an opportunity for us. The world doesn’t understand this. The world is lazy. The masses are all looking for the easy way out. The struggle is our ticket to success. The grind weeds out the unworthy. This means that we can achieve whatever we want, IF we are willing to do the work. It’s simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. If we do the work, we can separate from the masses and achieve the things will make our lives better and higher than they are today.


So now that we know the enemy we face, how do we overcome it? We do this by hardening our mindset and will in such a way that we are ready to engage with our


Because the grind mainly exists in our own mind, you would think that the solution is to fight back with positive thinking. But actually positive thought doesn’t really get us very far. What we actually need is to fight these negative thoughts with positive action. It is our actions that take us up the mountain. Planning and envisioning yourself at the top only gets you to the base. If you want to climb, you need to put one step in front of the other.


Overcome

So what are the practical steps we can take to face these incredible challenges in order to push through hard times? Let me give you a few that have helped me. I’ve separated these tips into two sections, preparing for hard times, and getting through hard times. Let’s start with preparation.


Prepare before it gets hard:

  1. Non-negotiable habits

  2. Know your WHY

  3. Know the suck is coming


Non-negotiable habits

Mountains are climbed by small steps taken all day long. To my knowledge no one climbs mountains by taking huge two legged jumps. Though the image of someone bunny hopping up a hill is kinda funny, the most practical wy to the top is the boring ol’ “one foot in front of the other” method. We must define small action for ourselves DAILY toward our goals. And those things must be treated as sacred. Nothing will stop us from achieving our daily habits. These are the steps up the mountain. No distractions, no busyness, no excuses on these items, they are non-negotiable. By making them non-negotiable, we set ourselves up to continue going through these motions regardless of our emotions, or how we “feel” about the project. This will be key later on.


Know your WHY

Your commitment is only as strong as your conviction. When you stare up the side of the mountain and you think about all the steps it will take to get you to the top. You must have an incredible devotion to the goal. And that all starts with WHY you want that thing in the first place. Your WHY will pull you back up when you fall. If you haven’t already spent time crafting a deep and meaningful WHY for your goals, check out this article here on how to do that.


Know the suck is coming

People seem to all know that hardship of some kind is inevitable. But few people actually take time to prepare for those struggles. You need to take two stances when approaching your goals and habits.


First, take time to think about what hardships you can foresee or imagine will likely happen to you. What could go wrong? Write it down and remember it. And think about what you will do when it happens. Have a plan so you know how you will want to react. If something happens to your schedule in the morning so you can’t run, what do you have to do to get it done in the evening? Or can you wake up earlier to avoid the risk all together? If i forget my healthy lunch, where do i know i can order something that will not compromise my current goals? Have this stuff ready, and insulate yourself from whatever you can see coming.


Second, know that life will throw things at you that no one could foresee. And there is no way to plan specifically for those things, but we can prepare that something like that will definitely happen, and we can prepare our mindset to say, when that thing comes, i will see it as a challenge on the road, and i will not let it overtake me or my goals.



Getting through the hard times:

  1. Treat life like a gym

  2. Be ready to become a machine

  3. Signal over noise


Treat life like a gym

The purpose of the gym is to put your body through “unnecessary” discomfort to force adaptation. Most of us wish that our bodies would just become healthier and stronger everyday while we sit on the couch. But that is not how it works. Our bodies are “use it or lose it” systems. We only adapt to what is necessary. Therefore if we want any sort of change, we must put it through unnecessary force, so that our bodies find adaptation necessary.


Can you imagine if someone decided to go to the gym everyday, but not work out? What if they just sat on the yoga mat and watched Netflix for an hour and then got up and went home? What a waste of time! Why did they go to the gym at all?!


Without getting too existential, we should treat life with the same mindset as the gym. Don’t go through life sitting on the yoga mat watching TV. What a waste. Strive for more. Accept discomfort because you know it is creating adaptation. When hard times come shift your mindset to welcome the challenge as an opportunity to grow into a healthier stronger version of yourself. Without reps there is no growth.


Be ready to become a machine

There are days that just suck. You are tired, and you have nothing in the tank. In those times, you need to have a switch ready that turns off all human emotion. Turns off all reason and decision making. You need to become a big dumb machine, with just the instructions to do those non-negotiable habits that you have designed for yourself to do.


On those days, you just need to need to flip the ON switch and go through the motions. Do the habits, lift the weight, write the thing. Talk to the person. Do the work. Serve your family. Clean the house. Whatever it is that you know is the habit you defined to make progress. Do it like a machine would do it. It’s not forever. You wont always feel like this. Just for today, get it done. Don’t complain.


Signal over noise

Remember the saboteur? Remember that our brain is constantly lying to us? We must be vigilant and learn to overcome our own desires for comfort and safety. We need to make our minds and our bodies subservient to our goals and our will. Often we assume that if we feel as certain way, then our body or our brain is trying to tell us we have over extended and we need rest. But actually the more you override that emotion and become a machine, the more you realize that 99% of the time, you brain was lying to you. You learn that 99% of the thoughts are actually noise, not signal. Sure there is balance, and you need sleep, you need food (maybe not 20,000 calories though), but we must learn to get a little less than we feel like. Put off rest for one day of grinding, then see how you feel tomorrow. Over time you will learn how much more you are capable of then you thought possible. And you will become more attuned to when your mind is playing tricks on you, and when you actually need rest.


Conclusion

It’s simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. Heads down, push through today. A breakthrough is coming. You are going to make it. Remind yourself why you started, and remember that this hardship is the rep that is molding you into something better, so don’t shy away from it. Lean into it.


Motivation is not the only answer, but i often times find that it helps me immensely. So here are a couple of my favorite Jocko Willink gems. Hope this helps you through your grind.



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