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The Payoff of Doing Hard Things
Resistance doesn't get any easier, you just get better at overcoming it.
Every morning, I rise before 6 a.m., turn the kettle on, and meditate or make a fire.
Then, I sit on the couch, cozy with a blanket on my lap and a coffee in my hand, and read my book. I could do this for hours. But some forty-five minutes later, I reluctantly throw off my blanket, put on my beaten-up shorts, and slowly warm into my kettlebell routine or head out the door into the crisp morning air for a run.
I face the same resistance every morning.
The comfortable couch and warm blanket, a gripping book that doesn’t want to be put down, and a French Press begging to be refilled. There is rarely a morning when I am excited to spring into action.
It hasn’t gotten any easier.
But I’ve gotten harder. I don’t pontificate on what I feel like doing and when weakness seeps in and starts to brainstorm reasons why I can’t work out today, I shut it down instantly. I know what needs to be done, and, by placing one foot in front of the other, I do it.
After 10 years of overcoming this resistance just about every single morning (I’ve failed a handful of times), a few lessons have emerged that I find useful to recall when resistance is at its strongest.
The hardest part is always starting. It gets easier with every step you take. But you need to start. One step at a time. Put your shorts on, roll out the yoga mat, take out the weights, lace up your shoes. Start to move your body by doing what feels good. Get some blood flowing. If you can take these simple steps, you will find yourself thirty minutes later in the middle of a great workout wondering why you didn’t want to start in the first place.
You will never regret it. There is no better way to start your day than a bout of exercise. Your mind and body will thank you for it, and in return, gift you with physical energy and mental sharpness to carry you throughout the day. Your baseline mood will get a bump and you will have something to feel proud of the rest of the day.
You will build character, tenacity, and grit. By exercising every morning, you will join an elite group of people who spit in the face of discomfort and opt to do what is good for them, not what is easy. Humans have become creatures of comfort, sometimes to a pathetic degree. If you so choose, you never have to experience challenge or discomfort again. You can remain horizontally on the sofa, as you order any food or consumer good imaginable from your smartphone. But there is no faster way to a shameful, lethargic, and regretful life. You don’t have to start running triathlons, but you owe it to yourself to do something good for your body every day, no matter how small.
Seeking temporary discomfort through exercise is a form of rebellion. It’s an act that connects your spirit with your ancestors who carried your genes for thousands of years by running away from lions, shivering through winter, and hunting down buffalo. It’s a commitment that will benefit your physical, cognitive, and emotional health both today and for the rest of your life. Not only will your state of health—in every sense of the word—drastically improve, but you will redefine how you see yourself and inspire others to follow your lead.
Daily exercise is, hands down, the most powerful and transformative habit you can engage in.
You just have to start.