“If you have any mental toughness, if you have any fraction of self-discipline; the ability to not want to do it, but still do it; if you can get through to doing things that you hate to do – on the other side is greatness” David Goggins
We live in a privileged society: a society where we have the beauty of choice.
Think about it: every single minute of the day you have a choice. You can choose what to eat, what to say and how to treat people. But most importantly, you can choose how to respond when things don’t go your way. Without a doubt, you are in control of how you respond when life tests your patience, your courage and your resolve.
Similarly, suffering is a state of mind; it is a choice. You can choose to suffer and become lost in your struggle and how tiresome your days are, or you can choose to flip reverse it and use your suffering to achieve greatness. Some of the most successful and inspirational people on this Earth have honed their ability to endure, their ability to switch negative into positive and their awareness of their capacity to choose.
For me, the most frustrating human characteristic is that typically associated with a “woe me” frame of mind. These people complain every day that they’re unhappy, they’re in a job they hate, they hate their body or they’re stuck financially. I have been that person; I have drunk through feelings of doom and frustration, I have avoided life by spending money I didn’t have, and I have spent days in bed binge-watching TV shows. Hell, I still struggle with this at times. But, at the end of the day, nothing changes unless you actively do something to change your own situation.
We have all heard that famous quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As cliché as that can sound, it’s important to understand that you cannot improve your life if you continue to make the same negative choices every single day. Let’s make it clear: this is not to be confused with perseverance. Perseverance is positive behaviour repeated consistently overtime to achieve a goal. The repetitive nature of perseverance is essential when aspiring for success; however, behaving in the same destructive manner over and over again is not.
Which path will you take?
Everyone is well aware that for change to occur, you need to change your behaviour – but to do this, you need to actively make different choices. So, if we all know this, why do we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again? Why do we complain about our work situations yet do nothing to up-skill? Why do we complain about our bodies but start our mornings with a bowl of cereal, heavily laden with sugar, and end it with white pasta and a glass of wine?
My sister once said to me: “You don’t need to tell people sugar is bad for them. People know that already, they just choose to eat it”. I think it’s more than that. I agree people understand that they need to change their behaviour and habits, but I think people feel lost about how to do it. They feel overwhelmed by all the information and choices until eventually their fear takes over and they just choose the easiest path.
“There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy… and its only reward is that it’s easy.”
A lot of people feel confused and lost when it comes to making the ‘right’ choice because they don’t fully understand the reason behind their choices. Without understanding your ‘why’ and giving yourself specific daily instructions, you become vulnerable to life’s pressures and inevitably, overtime, you can feel overwhelmed by fear and simply choose the most comfortable route.
Deep down within us all, we know there is something more to life. we know we can be more than we are today. Everyone reading this understands there is greatness within them, but the majority of us do not know how to unleash it.
Fear, insecurities, weaknesses and external pressure all culminate together to hold us back. But understand this: you don’t need to start making radical change, you just need to be aware of your choices and why you make them. You need to be aware that every moment of your day is defined by the choices you make. Do you choose to be happy or do you choose to be miserable? Will you choose to start your journey towards your goals or will you choose to watch another episode on Netflix? What will it take for you to change?
Now: what can you do about it?
Sit down and write a list of the choices you have made today – both the big and the small, seemingly harmless choices:
- Are you proud of these choices? If not, why not?
- If you had the chance again, what choice would you have made instead? Why?
- What choices made you happy today? Why?
- What choices can you make next time to invite more happiness into your life?
You may have chosen to skip work? You may have chosen to have an afternoon chocolate bar instead of some fruit. Are you proud of that? If not, why not? What choices could you make instead?
It’s time to be very aware of the choices you make and why you make them. If you’re not proud of your daily choices, what can you do to change them? Break your goals into little chunks of choices with very specific actions and start including these chunks into your daily life. If you have a large goal without smaller detailed actions, you will become overwhelmed. Write down specific actions and choices that you need to make that will act as daily steps towards your goals.
So, next time you are pushed to your limits by somebody, next time you want to take the ‘easy’ route – take a second and think about the choices you have and make a conscious decision about your next step. Go on, make yourself proud.
Call to Action
Reflect: What methods do you use to help you persevere through these tough times? And, how might this help you next time you’re faced with a challenge?