(In case you’re not into sports) Muhammad Ali was a heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist boxer.
He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated athletes of the 20th century (1).
Ever since the beginning of his career, Ali was known as a controversial and inspiring guy, both inside and outside of the ring.
When Newsweek did an interview with him (2) and asked about his training regimen, Ali described the relationship to his practice like this:
I hated every minute of it. But I said to myself, ‘Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.’
Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Ali’s way of thinking echoes the attitude of anyone who has become legendary within their field.
If you study the greatest artists, academics, and athletes of all time, they all have one thing in common.
They all put in a remarkable amount of hours of hard work into honing their skills before reaching a level of mastery.
- Mozart needed at least ten years before he produced something that became popular.
- Elon Musk read two books per day as a teenager. He also studied at both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford before becoming one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world.
- John Hanke spent 20 years creating Pokémon Go before it got 10 million+ downloads in the first week.
Somehow, top level performers find a way to always get the work done. What they happen to feel like on any given day has nothing to do with it. They do their job anyway.
If they experience resistance, it doesn’t matter because they are comfortable being uncomfortable.
And this is what allows them to be so consistent that greatness follows as a natural byproduct of their efforts.
Because when you are always showing up, no matter what, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, amazing results will inevitably follow.
Writing Through Resistance
I’m definitely no Mozart, Musk, or Hanke. Hell, I’m not even a particularly good writer (yet). But I do a decent job at modeling what great people has done in the past.
And since I started writing consistently, I’ve been featured on some of the most popular online publications in the world.
I’ve connected with readers telling me that my articles are helping them change their lives. I’ve seen close to 3,000 people sign up to my newsletter.
And more than 25,000 unique visitors find their way to my blog every week.
To me, this is absolutely amazing. I never thought so many people would be interested in what I had to say.
The first few years I hit published the only people reading were my closest family.
It wasn’t until I made a deliberate effort to write every day and publish every week that things began to take off.
And none of this had been possible if I hadn’t learned…
How to Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Each time I sit down to write, I experience some level of resistance. Some days, it’s just a minor discomfort. Other days, it’s complete chaos.
The research takes forever, I can’t seem to articulate the simplest of ideas, and my brain keeps turning its attention to anything it can think of except the article in front of me.
My writing is slow. And I’m terribly bored.
A year ago, one of these sessions always got the best of me. So, I waited for inspiration to write.
And as a result, I made little to no progress and was very inconsistent.
These days, I always keep on writing until I hit my word count for the day.
It doesn’t matter how I happen to feel about it.
The discomfort that used to be a signal that I should quit has become a trigger for…
Mental Resistance Training
Most of us tend to view adversity as an obstacle preventing us from achieving our goals and finding happiness.
But we don’t have to. If we want, we can choose to flip this view by realizing that there is no better opportunity to practice mental toughness than during times of hardship.
Just like Muhammad Ali spent countless hours suffering in practice, we can use mental resistance to strengthen our resilience and resolve.
Each time you find yourself struggling with resistance to a task, you can decide that you just stepped into…
Your Mental Gym
This is where you do your mental resistance training. Here’s how:
- Start small. This will ensure you get out of your head and get started. For me, this meant writing just 100 words (or even less) every weekday.
- Continuously increase your efforts. If you want to get better at something, you have to keep raising the bar to a level you’re not already used to. I’ve kept on adding to my daily word count goal, and now I’m consistently writing 1,000+ words per day.
- Be mindful of resistance. Each time resistance shows up, welcome it! Be with your thoughts and feelings. Let they do what they came to do. Then take action anyway.
- Measure your progress. Let go of the results you’re after, and focus on the process. On any given day, I try to forget about my long-term writing goals and instead just concentrate on reaching my writing goal. A habit tracker like Coach.me is very helpful for tracking your progress and competing with yourself.
- Schedule a weekly review. Take 10-15 minutes every week to review your progress. If it hasn’t been what you were hoping for, consider this valuable data. Reflect on what went wrong and adjust your efforts accordingly the next week.
- Celebrate your small wins. Research has shown that celebrating your progress is crucial to your long-term success. This is because each time you celebrate a small win, it reinforces your good behavior. So, if you’ve made some good progress on your goal, reward yourself! If you want some ideas for how to do this, check out my article on how to create a ‘token economy.‘
How to Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, In Summary:
- To be great, you need to invest a remarkable amount of time into your craft.
- That time investment requires consistency.
- If you’re going to be consistent, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
- You can develop the required mental toughness by viewing hardship as mental resistance training.
- To get the most out of your mental resistance training: start small, increase your efforts, be mindful of resistance, measure your progress, conduct a weekly review, and celebrate small wins.
What goals have you been putting off because it made you uncomfortable? Let this become your mental resistance gym. Then pick up the weights.
Greatness requires suffering. So let’s get comfortable being uncomfortable.
“Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.” — Muhammad Ali (Tweet that)