A simple and cultured life.

60 Days to Your Best – Embracing Discomfort (Day 41)


Good evening from a warm and balmy Vienna!

I know a lot of you can relate to this scenario.

You have a project to finish next week for work. Or maybe it’s a job at home – like finally putting together that Ikea table that has 100 parts. Perhaps it’s doing your taxes on time. Maybe it’s the journal you wanted to start writing in. Or the exercise routine you wanted to establish. Eating healthy and tracking your food.

I get it. These are hard to start. They are even harder to stay committed to. But let’s start with starting.

Embracing Discomfort

As humans we hate discomfort. It is not natural for us to do something that causes us suffering (physically and mentally). It is not natural to enjoy the strenuous activity of running or doing deadlifts. It is not natural to look forward to sitting down and doing your taxes (if it is please call me). And it is definitely not pleasurable to control the portion of Nutella gelato that you want to devour. It is not natural to embrace discomfort and discipline. But the results of doing these things can be very satisfying.

How do you feel after a good run or workout? Isn’t your mind more at ease once you’ve finished filing your taxes for the year? Don’t you feel great after being able to put on those jeans from 10 years ago after 2 months of eating smarter?

But to get these results we have to embrace discomfort. We have to do what is painful. We have to suffer. At least initially we do.

However, once you start doing the work day in and day out, and develop habits (like exercising, doing paperwork or eating sensibly) eventually the suffering and discomfort become less and less. Your will is strengthened along with your body. What was once painful is not as painful, and what you have to look forward to are signs of progress and improvement.

I remember my first long distance run back in high school. 1 mile. It was painful. The cramps in my sides, the pounding and aching of my knees. But now a mile run is a lot more manageable. I don’t find it uncomfortable or painful and I look forward to a good run because of the glow I feel afterwards.

Some ways that I have found very useful to embracing discomfort and sticking to the path of discipline are as follows:

1) Start out with small amounts

This is especially true when it comes to things like starting exercise routines or getting out of debt. If you’ve never exercised or are coming back to it after a long hiatus, don’t start by doing 10k runs. Start with 10 minute sessions. Walk for 5 and jog for 5. Then stop. Day 1 is finished. After 3 days increase it 12 minutes. After a week try 15.

A few weeks ago, I woke up one morning an was completely exhausted from the lack of sleep from the night before. I was tempted to forego my morning routine of exercise. However, I conquered my body and tiredness and went to the gym. When I got to the gym I was still exhausted. I stayed for 10 minutes and did some ab exercises and stretching. Although the time was short, I stuck to the routine. That is the most important part. Painful consistency. Doing what’s painful now, even small amounts, reaps the benefit of discipline.

Same thing can be applied with debt, especially credit cards. Pay off the smallest credit card first. Yeah, that one from 5 years ago with a 200 dollar balance. Pay that off as quickly as you can. Next month, start hacking away at the one with the 2,000 dollar balance. Even if its a 100 dollar payment (and you’re not incurring any other charges!) – do it. Painful consistency.

2) Set time for just that one thing

I set time in the morning at 6:15 am to exercise and that’s all I do at that time. The time is set and sacred. The same went for when I was working on my master’s degree while I had a full-time job; I set time everyday for several hours to read and study. Nothing got in the way of that time. When you set aside a time to do a task/routine everyday its much easier to stick to it. You can set reminders on your smartphones and there are numerous apps to help you. Here is a good one called Momentum.

3) Do it for others

When my first child was born, I made a promise to myself that I wanted to stay alive as long as possible. And not only that, but I want to be in the best shape so that I can enjoy all the moments with my family to my best ability. Running around with them, wrestling, hiking, playing and someday, God willing, watching them walk down the aisle. The way for me to do this was to live a healthy lifestyle – eating, exercising, praying and more. All of these commitments cause a bit of discomfort, but when it starts to hurt, or when I’m tired and exhausted, I remember what it’s all for. My family.

What are some of the tips you have in embracing discomfort in routines and discipline?

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