How To Change Your Life: Avoiding resistance and taking on challenges
It was the point of no return. I'd said something I couldn't take back.
The 'easy path' was finished and instead, I'd set myself some treacherous mountains to climb. I wouldn't have it any other way.
In April 2017 I quit my job and went all in.
The path of least resistance.
Making things easier is in our nature. Take a look at technology. All of the innovations in the last 10 years have revolved around making daily life a more fluid experience. Sweating less and getting instant gratification. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t respond well to technology and instant gratification (other than butt implants). Results are often overpromised and over delivered.
This is the path of least resistance.
It is often not optimal, but the path has an upside.
Less resistance means that things are easier.
When things are easier, they stick.
You've probably heard that 'consistency' is the most important thing in any exercise or diet routine. Making things extremely easy means it's also easy to be consistent. This is where the start of any journey lies.
Taking those first few steps.
If you have to take those steps uphill, in weighted boots, with a weighted backpack holding you down, you will probably not take them.
If those steps are downhill, with a breeze behind you - you will have to fight to not take them.
And with those first steps comes momentum.
Something I'm basing a lot of my life right now off is the fact that momentum follows action. Whenever I'm on the couch scrolling through Instagram and know I have stuff to do and should do that stuff, but can't be bothered. It's,
"Action proceeds momentum. Just go and open your laptop. The rest will follow."
Action is the word of the year because actions lead to habits. Habits lead to behaviour and mindset changes which lead to an improved you.
These first steps or actions are the start of something big. The easier they are, the more steam you can build up for when you reach the mountains.
I got into the world of fitness on a whim.
Training myself had become a big interest of mine, so I spent most of my free time researching how to get bigger and stronger. Why not make a career out of it?
I dropped out of my double degree, studying Commerce/Science, and enrolled into a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science. It seemed like the easier path.
Studying this subject came naturally, leading to some rewarding personal training jobs. But was it too easy?
The main problem with the path of least resistance?
You're never going to make waves. You can get by just fine and sail smoothly into the sunset. But as a wise man once said:
"A smooth sea never made a skilful sailor."
In opposition to the path of least resistance, as humans, we like a challenge.
In general, the things that are hard are the things that change us. Think back to some of the defining moments of your life. Most likely they were hard times you endured or challenges you overcame.
Hard times force us to grow as a person. If things are too easy, how do you find this growth?
By going all in.
My career in fitness led me to London, where I am grateful to have found an awesome personal training gym, with amazing people, which fit my philosophy well.
I was given a healthy roster of clients and enjoyed every single minute of working there.
But, after a while, I began feeling restless.
I wanted (read: needed) more.
I needed a challenge. I craved being uncomfortable. I had a hunger to grow. I wanted to climb metaphorical mountains.
Believing deep down I was ready, I quit, tied up my laces, and began the climb of the self-imposed metaphorical mountain which I just (voluntarily) put in my path.
Taking on challenges.
Why do people climb Everest? It's incredibly difficult and insanely dangerous. They do it because the things that push you the hardest mentally and physically are always the most rewarding. They force you to grow. With this growth, you become a stronger person.
Eventually, there comes a time when you have take on challenges, some that may even intimidate you. That takes courage. Just as it did to take the first few steps on your journey, it takes courage to make the decision to start an uphill climb with no end in sight.
But without challenges, you stagnate. You simply can't grow without something pushing you to do so and you miss out on all of the opportunities that the path of least resistance can't give you.
'Grit' is one of them.
Grit is mental hardiness, it is a strength of character, it is perseverance.
Grit brings out the best in you.
Things seem easier. The more challenges you take on and overcome (or even fail) the easier the next one is to traverse. With grit comes the feeling of ease, and grit can only be developed in times of hardship.
Taking on challenges that seem far too steep is sometimes exactly what we need. Stepping out of the comfort zone and purposely taking on some hard freaking work.
Kamal Ravikant, a successful investor, said,
“If I had always done what I was qualified to do, I’d be pushing a broom somewhere.”
This is a prime example, and a common thread among successful people, of not being afraid of things you might not know how to do now. Things can be learned. When you're thrown into the deep end you quickly learn how to swim.
Being pushed by taking on tough challenges force you to grow.
But alas, you will fail. At some point it's inevitable. Everyone fails. It's how you react to failure which defines you.
See how failing at one thing doesn't define you. You may have failed at this one thing this one time but look at all the times you didn't fail. Look how far you have come. Failure is OK. Keep moving forward.
This is a powerful mindset which only comes when you take on challenges.
Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Comfort won't allow you to grow. The environment forcing you to adapt just isn't there. Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable often exposes you to that feeling, with each time the effect numbing by a little until it becomes the new comfortable.
And finally, challenges force you to focus and be disciplined.
As Jocko Willink, decorated SEAL, says,
"With discipline comes freedom."
It's true. Discipline controls some of the variables in your life and allows you the freedom of choice for others. Having too much choice can often be overwhelming and hence, nothing gets done. Discipline controls some choice so you have the mental and physical freedom to choose clearly things that matter most.
Discipline isn't something you are born with. It is developed, you guessed it, by taking on challenges.
Taking on challenges in life are as rewarding as they are necessary. Are you taking them on? Or are you just cruising by?
As for me? I'm midway up the mountain and not looking back.
There are probably countless mountains ahead but first I have to conquer this one and let my personal coaching business find it's feet. There are days where I question myself if I'm doing the right thing and some days where I'm 100% confident.
But, at this stage in my life, I welcome any challenge and opportunity to push myself.
You have to start slow. Take action. Build momentum. Take the easier steps. Once seasoned. Take on the challenge.
How do you know it's the right time to leave the easy path and take on a challenge?
You don't. There is no right time and there will never be a right time. It takes a massive amount of courage to take the first steps. You don't know where you're going, the path is steep and footholds loose.
It takes courage to put yourself in vulnerable positions with no guarantee that it will work out.
You just have to believe that it's possible and that you're ready.
I believe you are.