Growing up I played video games quite a bit. I had to quit when I realized you could put all the hours I put into getting imaginary badges in a game into having real life experiences.
When I picked up a new game, “easy mode” is typically how I’d jump in and learn the game. It’s a bit slow, but you get the hang of things and figure out how to move around, fight the bad guys without getting pissed off and breaking the controller before you even get started.
But, once you beat the game on “easy” mode and keep playing – you realize something. Easy mode wasn’t just easy. It was easy. Almost too easy (and boring at that). If you keep playing around on easy mode for too long, you might find that you get marginally better at first, but after a minute (or hours in this case) or two, you’re just running through the motions.
Once you get the hang of it – it’s almost cartoonish. It’s so easy it’s laughable.
And that might be fun for a short bit – because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re skilled. But you’re not actually getting any better.
If you keep doing the same – you actually start to stall out – and maybe even get worse – because it’s not forcing you to be on top of your game, get better, learn anything new or stay engaged. You’re not really good at the game – you’ve just memorized button mashing – and memorized it on the easiest version of the game possible.
And on easy mode – you might think you’re good, but you’re not. You haven’t tested or pushed yourself. You’re just mediocre – and probably bored as well.
So if you want to get better – there’s only two things to do.
- You can quit and start to play a different game, but then you’re just chasing the high of learning something new, not actually mastering what you’re on.
- Or if you really want to step your game up, you have change the level of difficulty you’re playing at.
So you go back to the start screen and you change your level from easy to beginner to difficult to hard mode.
And if you’ve ever done this before – you know the landscape and the gameplay changes quickly.
The game is faster. Your old tricks don’t work. Even if you’re familiar with the game, you have to pay more attention, get faster, learn new approaches and get better. Weapons get less potent. You’re immune to less things. The stakes get raised.
You force yourself to start playing on a different level.
And you’re way more locked in.
So – if you’re stuck in your fitness or your life – you probably got mediocre on “easy” mode and forgot that there are other games to play and that there are other levels to play at.
Introducing: Hard Mode:
When you purposely make things more difficult physically, mentally or socially to force yourself to level up.
Some ideas for hard mode:
- Carry around a kettlebell with you for the day just for kicks.
- Fill your backpack with 60 pounds (a la GORUCK) for your next run.
- Do your next workout with a weighted vest.
- Run to your meeting, event, or workout.
- Do 50 pushups every hour on the hour while you’re at work.
- Get up an hour earlier every morning.
- Force yourself to leave work an hour earlier.
- Sign up for something you know you’re bad at.
- Commit to doubling your writing output every week.
- Cold Showers + Ice Baths every day (okay maybe this isn’t that far out of the norm anymore).
It all comes down to this:
Raise your baseline expectations of yourself.
Stop looking for an easier way to do things. If you’re “stuck” – you don’t need an easier way to do something. You need to become stronger.
You need to be better. And you have to find ways to purposely stress yourself in order to induce growth. You need stop messing around on “easy” modes.
You need to start playing on a hard mode.
So if you’re bored with your normal routine and don’t know what to do – find a harder way to do it.
Force yourself to become stronger.
It costs nothing other than a little more planning and an incremental amount of effort. Add in a good amount of will to embrace being a little “weird” – but that’s a burden you’ll have to bear as someone playing on “hard” mode.
And yes, there will be times where you feel like you’re dying every 3 seconds, want to rage-quit and throw your controller at your TV – to to speak.
And when that happens, when things get hard, when you start to wish things were easier…
Strap up, lean in, breathe deep.
Then grit your teeth, smile and remind yourself:
“I’m playing on hard mode.”
Then go handle it.
This is hard mode motherf*cker