“Most of us instinctively avoid struggle, because it’s uncomfortable. It feels like failure. However, when it comes to developing your talent, struggle isn’t an option—it’s a biological necessity. This might sound strange, but it’s the way evolution has built us. The struggle and frustration you feel at the edges of you abilities—that uncomfortable burn of ‘almost, almost’—is the sensation of constructing new neural connections, a phenomenon that the UCLA psychologist Robert Bjork calls ‘desirable difficulty.’ Your brain works jus like your muscles: no pain, no gain”
Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent
When was the last time you faced struggle? How did it go? Did you resist? Or did you embrace it? How did it feel to fail? How did it feel to learn from the failure? How did it feel to succeed eventually?
Testing yourself at the edge of your abilities is the simplest way to improve. Notice I said simple, not easy. You see, we all know what we need to do. But for most of us we fail to do those things whether they be in the realms of exercise, diet, meditation, relationships, and sleep. Why do so many know WHAT to do yet not actually do those things?
One reason could be decision fatigue. Decision fatigue involves having lots of choices and becoming drained during the process. Overthinking decisions all day leads to a reduction in the ability to make sound decisions, so we fall back into our safe, old habits. This is the WHY behind getting the most important task of the day done FIRST. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, diet, or writing—the most important task sets you on a positive path of momentum. Most will cite their lack of time—it’s their lack of direction. No direction results in an aimless, general movement through life. You have time. Prioritize it in the morning to do the most IMPORTANT task.
Another reason is it we can feel that knowing and doing are one in the same. Many will know what to do yet rarely take action. They can cite studies, what they’ve heard, and what their close friends have said but they’ve never EXPERIENCED it for themselves. Instead of taking people’s word on certain experiences, do it for yourself and make up your own mind. If someone says “so and so is this type of person” don’t allow your judgment to be based off of one person’s experience. Build your experiences up by taking action. If you wonder if diet XYZ will work for you, DO IT. If you wonder if training program XYZ will work for you, DO IT. It’s really that simple. There’s an overload of information and we think our ways out of doing. The best part of starting and sticking to a routine for 6 weeks is the discipline built up. Sticking to something has a profound effect on your life. You can recall this discipline and it’s a real muscle that gets better with practice. Commitment to yourself is something that will never leave you if you continue to build it through daily practice. It’s an amazing trait that is rare to find. Commit to yourself on a daily basis.
The final reason we’ll go into today is the fear of getting outside the comfort zone. Being comfortable is a scary endeavor. It’s seemingly easy for children to do these types of things. Doing things they’ve never done is an adventure. As we grow older we think, we use logic, and calculate if the particular endeavor is worth the risk. Most of us talk ourselves out of it. Our risk vs. reward thought process shuts us out of growth. Acting through the uncomfortable endeavor allows a rush of feel good hormones. We conquered something. It feels amazing. And it creates a cascade of momentum that can spill into other areas of life. It allows you to challenge preconceived notions. It leads to creativity. It leads to LIFE. You being living at the edge of your comfort zones.
In closing, there are many reasons we fail to embrace struggle. Be the rare person to defy the odds. Get outside the comfort zones you’ve set up. Embrace the struggle. It’s literally building connections in your brain. Build the momentum in your life one neural connection at at time.