Take a moment to think about the meaningful things that you’ve accomplished in your life.
Passing a hard test, graduating from school, making the sports team, beating your favorite video game, building an organization, helping people in need, sharing your art, comforting a depressed friend… all of these things share something in common.
They are difficult, at least in the beginning.
Anything worth doing is going to take time before you begin succeeding at it. Of course, early victories are possible in some activities, but eventually you always hit that moment where things get difficult.
They key to overcoming these moments is to recognize that they are both normal and an opportunity.
As Randy Pausch insightfully says in The Last Lecture, the brick walls in life let us show who wants it more. The obstacles in life are there to let you prove how badly you want something.
People who don’t want something badly enough will quit when the going gets hard. The fact that you’ve hit a roadblock doesn’t mean that you’re on the wrong path or that you’re not talented enough or smart enough. It just means that you’re going to have to spend some time overcoming this obstacle.
Does this mean you should never quit anything? Of course not. You should quit things that no longer help you achieve your desired outcomes, but you should not quit things just because they are difficult.
I recently joined CrossFit, and the first month was brutal. I was consistently the slowest person in the class. I always lifted the least amount of weight. My weightlifting form was initially so bad that the coach was afraid to leave me alone because I might injure myself.
In my third week, I actually passed out during a workout because I was partnered with a crazy gymnast who blazing through the workout as I struggled to keep up with him. After that happened, a number of people suggested that I should quit.
But I made a commitment to do CrossFit for 3 months, and halfway through month #2 I can safely say that I’m stronger, have better form and endurance, and am no longer the slowest person at every activity in the class.
Doing CrossFit (and some loving support from my wife) has also inspired me to be more diligent about my eating habits and make sure that I increase the amount of vegetables and fish in my diet, while reducing red meat and processed foods.
The health, energy, and aesthetic outcomes are awesome, and if I had quit when it got difficult, I never would have made it to the positive results that I’m now experiencing.
So whenever you’re struggling to make it through a difficult situation or journey in your life, just know that your efforts make a difference. Your challenge is meaningful and will help you grow and accomplish more of your goals.
It’s hard to see the light when you feel stuck in the tunnel. But rest assured, if your outcome is meaningful enough to you, the only way out is through.
Have you persevered through a challenge and reaped the rewards on the other side? If so, my readers and I would love to hear about your experience in the comments.