I know, I know, everyone nowadays is saying to “do what you love” and “do what makes you happy,” and while I agree it’s important to do that sometimes, I also think it’s even more important to get out and do things you may not love. Maybe even things you hate. Now before you think I’m off my rocker and close this page, please hear me out.
Let me ask you a question. If you only ever did what you wanted to do while working out, how would that affect your body? That’s right, you probably wouldn’t end up being very fit or healthy. Exercising, by nature, isn’t something we like. In order to make any gains at all, we have to push ourselves past what we can handle. In order to get stronger, we have to lift more weight. In order to increase our endurance, we have to run that extra mile. We have to push our limits, and overcome them.
It’s kind of a love-hate relationship. If you’re anything like me, the middle of your workout is always the worst, because that’s when you feel like all you want to do is give up. But at the same time, you know there is nothing more satisfying than giving a workout your all and completing your last set of repetitions, even when you don’t think you have the strength. You might hate it in the moment, but you love the result. In those moments you have to choose whether to give in to hating the moment, or letting the love of the result drive you to finish strong. There’s something about pushing your body to do something when your mind wants to give up that builds not only your physical tenacity, but also your mental strength.
One of my favorite ways to really give myself a boost in confidence and mental toughness is to do a workout or exercise that I really hate, and work on it until I’ve mastered it. An example of this would be pullups and pushups. I used to avoid these exercises because I couldn’t do them. Not a single one. Even the thought of them made me feel weak and incompetent. But you know what? I was weak and incompetent, and was too proud to admit it. Even more so, I was too proud and lazy to face my failure, and work through it to master my weaknesses.
Once I realized that just about every upper body workout worth anything included pushups and/or pullups, I finally decided to swallow my pride and face my insecurities. It may sound like a small feat, working on pushups, but to me it was a huge obstacle, which made it even more important that I do it. Anytime we work through and overcome a seemingly impossible obstacle, something changes in our brains to give us a greater ability to handle the next obstacle to come along. And the thing is, the more times we overcome rather than succumb to a problem, the easier it is to say to yourself “Ha! I know this is going to be tough, but I’ve got this. I’ve gotten through things like this before.”
So I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: embrace failure as an opportunity for growth. Don’t always focus on what you love, although that has its place. Get out and do things that stretch you, because ultimately, those are the things that make you grow. The great thing is that the mindset we use to overcome physical difficulties in our workouts can be applied to any other kind of life challenge that comes our way, whether it be financial, emotional, relational, and so on.
Oh, and by the way, those exercises I used to hate? I love them now. I do pushups and pullups all the time in my workouts.
Is there an obstacle in your life that you have had to overcome? How has working through that challenge made you a better person? Comment below, I’d love to hear your story.