Last week, I found myself mid-workout wanting to quit. I was losing the battle with the rowing machine, and I felt beat. I had that anxious feeling in my chest, where I’m on the verge of tears, but unwilling to cry in the middle of the gym.
My mind was flooded with thoughts: Why was this so much harder than running? How can I deadlift over 200 pounds but struggle through five minutes of rowing? And why the heck is my average pace getting slower as I pull harder?
I was uncomfortable.
Last week wasn’t the first time I’ve been uncomfortable on my path to the Miss Maryland USA stage, and it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, I find myself in uncomfortable situations on a daily basis, whether it’s in the middle of chaturanga, while I’m defying government recommendations and eating bacon to lean out, or running with a cramp in my side.
In the past, discomfort was unpleasant: hurting during a run was painful, and also a reminder that I’d let myself go. Denying myself an Oreo was frustrating because other people could eat them and stay lean (plus I really wanted that freaking Oreo). Plus, staying comfortable meant I got to binge watch Criminal Minds while eating kettle corn on my couch (read that three times fast), and that was pretty okay.
Here’s the thing: being comfortable means that things are fine, and fine is just another word for mediocre.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a mediocre life.
And so, here I am, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I am learning to sacrifice momentary pleasantness for long-term satisfaction. I am becoming okay with wanting to quit in the middle of a workout but keeping at it. And I want to share with you how you can, too.
Set goals. My man Brian Tracy suggests setting one year, five year, and ten year personal, family, and health goals, but you can start with just one area if you’re new to this. If you’re pretty seriously on the struggle bus (like I was in June), you can pick just one goal and put all your energy toward it. I picked Miss Maryland USA, but your goal could be related to finding a new job, getting your health back, or even dating more. The goal needs to be something you really, really want, because if it’s not intrinsically motivating, it’s going to be more difficult to stay committed.
Burn those suckers into your head. Write your goals down, share them with close friends or family, repeat them to yourself in front of a mirror. Every day. Remind yourself why you’re getting uncomfortable. So that you can…
Make a mantra of your purpose for when things get tough. Alright, so you’ve got your goals, and now you’re in a situation where the going is getting tough. Take a second, and remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me, it’s “I am Miss Maryland USA.” During long runs, it’s “I am a marathoner.” The key here is that your mantra is short, sweet, and affirmative — you create your reality, so using “I am” sends a powerful message to your brain, and helps keep excuses in check.
Remind yourself that the discomfort is only temporary. During that rowing workout, I could’ve quit, but instead, I looked at the workout in manageable chunks: suffer through five minutes, get to the next part of the workout that I liked, and get that much closer to finishing. Reminding yourself that temporary discomfort is so much better than all-the-time mediocrity (and that in an hour, you’ll be done!) is often enough to get you through the tough.
…if all else fails, celebrate your accomplishments. Sometimes, discomfort’s gonna get a little bit too uncomfortable. When this happens, recognize what you did accomplish, and let go. There are small wins in every situation, and every step forward propels you in the right direction.
I don’t want a mediocre life. I want a dynamic, fulfilling, purpose-driven life that I love. I want to be excited to take on the day every morning when I wake up. More importantly, I know that I deserve that type of life — and you do too. You’re just going to have to be willing to get a little bit uncomfortable.