This last year was a bit tough.
[personal details redacted]
I won’t go into a lot of specifics, but suffice it to say it was tough. I had a lot of random crap thrown at me this year.
I don’t really know why it was rough:
- It might have been getting older & making more mistakes.
- It might have been for some chaotic reason.
- It might have just been a crappy year.
But it’s been a little hard. And as the year wore on – I noticed a worrisome trend:
- I started to become a little more careful.
- I started to become a little more soft.
- I took a cold shower less often.
- I caught myself complaining one too many times and I realized I was coasting for a while.
I didn’t like that – so I did something about it:
- I took back my time.
- I took a cold shower the other day in the middle of the -20 degree #chiberia tundra freeze we had in Chicago last week.
- I got rid of essentially all my stuff except for 3 bags.
- I moved across the country (hello San Diego).
- I focused in on this year.
- I made a plan.
I woke myself back up.
It’s easy to complain that life seems hard sometimes, but that’s not how it works.
Life is hard. That’s the point.
The purposes of life’s challenges is to push you. To grow you. To make you stronger.
Physical challenges are the same way.
The purposes of weights are to push you. To grow you. To make you stronger – by breaking down your muscles and building them back up.
But no one ever goes into a gym and gets mad at the weights for being heavy.
“Man, these 25lb weights are way heavier today than they were yesterday!”
That doesn’t happen.
And if it does – it’s not the weights fault.
200 pounds is 200 pounds. Either you lift it or you don’t. 10 miles is 10 miles. Either run it or you don’t.
The iron never lies. The weights don’t change. The mileage is the same.
The metric is there. Will you meet it or not?
Will you step up to the challenge? That’s the real question.
Life doesn’t change. It’s going to be hard. There will be challenges.
Will you step up to face them?
Your ability to lift the weights or run the mileage doesn’t depend on the weight – it depends on your ability to lift it. Going to the gym isn’t an arbitrary punishment – it’s a specific movement designed to strengthen a piece of your body.
Your ability to face & beat the challenges in life – doesn’t depend on whether or not – life will be hard. However, your ability to lift them depends on how strong you are. The challenges aren’t arbitrary punishments – they’re specific challenges designed to strengthen a piece of you as a person.
If life seems hard right now – maybe it is. And maybe you can get through it by moping, complaining and being upset that the weight is heavy – that life can be hard sometimes.
Or…just maybe…you can turn & face up to it, take a cold shower, embrace the suck and use it as a chance to get stronger.
That’s my plan. What’s yours?
Lift That **** or Die Trying
I was in the middle of writing this post last night & I saw this 2-minute video by Elliot Hulse that talks about this exact same thing. Fair warning: he uses profanity. If that bothers you, don’t watch it (but you should watch it anyways).
(h/t to Vic for the video).
photo credit: ericmcgregor
This is coming to me at just the right time. I’m sick and tired of doing boring office drone shit. Finally quitting and gonna start my own business. Scared? Kinda. Determined? You got it.
I’ve always loved the analogy of exercise to the other goals we have in life. I tend to look at everything as if it is a progressive exercise. Through ‘lifting’ smaller weights I can grow stronger to lift the heavy ones.
I look at writing like that. I look at reading more books like that. I look at -well- exercise like that. I think looking at things as just a higher skill cap that we can work towards it drives us in a more motivating fashion.
IF we get off our ass and work at smaller goals consistently, we can grow to be stronger as a whole. Mentally, physically, and everything in between.
Maurício Sampaio says
Oh, man, this last year I was introduced to the Cold Shower philosophy and also to Mister Hulse’s 4 layers of strenght. Those aproaches both made me face the year’s challenges in a way that had empowered me! And now, to know that there´s some sort of alignment in our way to think, is great! Somehow it shows me that I’m on the right way, growing up, getting stronger and sticking together with the right fellows! That’s the kind of thought and course of action that I’ve choose to brainwash me this year! And I do not mind if it come cold, I´ll embrace it exactly as it is. Thank you.
I always tell my swimmers that they have to be tougher than their excuses.
“I got rid of essentially all my stuff except for 3 bags.”
I think I first discovered The Blog of Impossible Things when reading about “minimalism,” back when minimalism was trendy. Do you remember Nina Yau’s blog? Do you remember Nina Yau modeling your first Impossible tee?
Anyway, getting rid of stuff is the biggest challenge I face. Sometimes I feel like I belong on “Hoarders” on TV… only without the rotting food scraps. Anything you care to post about “getting rid of essentially all your stuff” would be appreciated — ‘cuz, y’know, as Kamb sez, I’m one of those gnomes: I’ll collect “information” on decluttering and simplifying as long as I can to avoid actually doing anything!
And then I sat here after work and ate a bowl of M&Ms (they were awesome) while screwing around on the internet rather than running 5k or 10k.
Time to wake up.
I had the opposite problem. Life was too easy. So I snapped and took on some crazy challenges. Now I’m at the bottom and suck at everything I’m doing. That’s cool because I’m ready for the challenge.
I have so many friends that hate their jobs right now that the only way for them to cope is to disengage, “not care” and to just look at their jobs as a paycheck. I’m so afraid for them because before they know it, they’ve been stuck for years and are living lives half-dead.
I know that the only thing to do is to live by example and that is exactly what you are doing! Good work, Joel!
No one goes into the gym and gets made at the weights for being heavy? False; happens ALL THE TIME! 🙂
Sometimes it does feel like the bar is so much heavier than the day before!
I’ve been struggling lately with a wrist injury, so recently decided to take on a new mantra that I found floating around the web: “When you feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, do some squats.” It was an interesting perspective for me, taken quite literally since I am fully capable of doing squats.. but also how much being in the gym takes that load off and re-channels the negative energy into something positive.
Thank you for this article. Sounds serious and full of fight. May be it’s about attitude to weight of life. Sometimes with fun and good supportive people you can do impossible even without noticing it. Lift weight together! 🙂
Adventure Insider says
Simple – Direct – And To The Point.
I wish had wrote it. But I WILL share it.
Great article Joel, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thanks for writing!
I’m at the point where I ponder upon the gruelling life ahead of me. There are lots of sharks and I see myself jumping into them.
I don’t want to give a damn any more and follow what you say – get stronger!
Allison Herstein Moran says
I think I found this stuff and your great mindset at just the right time. Thanks for challenging my thinking.
Bella Hardy says
“Lift That or Die Trying!” (С) Hard workout is what true crossfitter or powerlifter needs! Sometimes I allow myself to do less in trainings. Thx for sharing Joel!