“Discomfort is the currency of your dreams.” Brook Castillo
Have truer words been spoken? Recall any significant achievement you’ve accomplished. Was it riddled with ups and downs, times when you thought it seemed impossible, and wanted to quit? Always!
I know this, but I need frequent reminders.
Our brains don’t help us either. They want us to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy. Not exactly the formula for innovation, creation, or doing ground-breaking work, is it?
We have to battle the way our brains are hard-wired, and we have to combat the comfort culture in which we live. We are so good at being comfortable. Countless industries profit from our innate tendency to seek the path of least resistance. But this comfort comes at the high cost of failing to achieve what is possible for us.
Discomfort is the currency of our dreams.
Here are three reminders that help me navigate the discomfort, that I hope you’ll find valuable:
- If it’s hard, you’re not doing it wrong.
- Plan on getting punched in the face.
- A powerful “why” is everything.
If It’s Hard, You’re NOT Doing It Wrong
I don’t know if it’s how early education is structured, our comfort culture, or some combination of the two, but we think if something is super challenging, we must be doing it wrong. We believe it couldn’t possibly have been this hard for that successful guy over there. But the truth is we didn’t notice his first 100 fails; we observed his 101st or 1001st try. And he nailed it.
Most of us give up well before try number 101.
A big part of why we give up is because we make the difficulty we experience mean something about ourselves. Any of these thoughts sound familiar:
- I must be doing it wrong.
- I’m not cut out for this work.
- I’m not good enough.
- It’s easier for other people.
What if we dropped this thinking? It’s certainly not helpful. Instead, think, “this is hard because I’m doing hard things.”
This means you are doing it right.
Plan on Getting Punched In The Face
As Mike Tyson famously said, “everyone’s got a plan until you get punched in the face.”
So why not plan on it?
We know from experience that pursuing our most significant goals is fraught with landmines, yet we create expectations that assume everything will go as planned. Then it doesn’t, and we seem surprised. We question if we are doing it right, and even worse, sometimes we give up!
Anytime we do something audacious or bold, we will get punched in the face. Let’s expect it. We can’t anticipate which punch will land squarely on our jaw, but does it even matter?
It’ll happen. So let’s set the expectation that a punch in the face is just part of the process. Let’s avoid attaching any meaning to it, and instead, direct our energy on ways to improve our resilience.
And that brings me to why a powerful “why” is so important.
A Powerful “Why” Is Everything
If achieving big dreams involves so much pain and discomfort, there has to be a compelling reason to pursue them.
Why would you ever choose discomfort? Because you have a “why” that is so powerful and so compelling, you don’t have another choice.
And let’s be clear, the pain of living with the fact that you did not pursue your dreams is far more acute and chronic than the pain from the discomfort of the pursuit.
As Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Keeping your “why” front and center and always available to you, will help you find your strength on those dark days when motivation’s light is nowhere to be found.
You’ve got big goals and even bigger dreams that the world needs you to pursue! Expect that the road will be “punched in the face” hard, which means nothing about you or your ability to succeed. It means you’re doing it exactly right. And keep your “why” close to your heart to propel you forward when motivation fails you.
The bad news is it’s going to be hard. The good news is you can do hard things!
You’ve got this.
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