I like to run. And when I start out a run, I usually know within 50 paces whether it’s going to be a good run or not.
Some days, my legs feel heavy. Probably not hydrated enough. Some days, I feel like I’m running in a fog. Not enough sleep. Some days, I’m sweating before I even get going. It’s a hot one. Some days, I’ve got a few more aches and pains. Likely sore from cross-training. Or, maybe I’m just getting old.
Those days when I take a few steps and I'm just not feeling it have taught me that you’re just going to have days when you’re just not feeling it.
But I’ve also learned something else. And it's about mindset. Bear with me as I tell you a short story.
One recent January day, I ran four miles in 4-degree temps. I did it just to say that I could. Well, and also because it was one of my designated running days, and I wanted to avoid the treadmill more than anything. So I layered up and set out to see how far I could go. Besides the true fact that four layers of clothing is too much, even in 4-degree temps, that experience taught me a huge truth, and that is this:
The anticipation of doing something unpleasant or uncomfortable is more unpleasant than actually doing it.
That day, one of the coldest of the year, I had a great run. I can honestly say that run is among my top 10 runs. Ever. Including races. And do you know why? Because I challenged myself to do something that I really did not want to do. But when I came back in from that run, I was convinced there was nothing I couldn’t do.
I came in from that run feeling like a total badass. My husband, who knows how much I hate winter weather, was speechless and brags about that moment to this day. Many days, he says that decision I made inspires him when he would rather sit in front of the AC than go for a run in the middle of summer. He sums it up in one word: Grit.
Grit is the thing that pushes you to take on something you dread. It’s the determination to achieve, despite obstacles or adversity. The psychologist Angela Duckworth and her team have concluded that grit is a better predictor of success than intelligence.
So how do you get some grit? You may be thinking, yeah, sure, I know people like that. And I’m most definitely not one of them! But you can be!
Here’s my simple template:
When the brain tries to tell you this thing is going to be a beast, think back to a time when you pushed through your dread to accomplish something significant. It could be anything, not necessarily even related to the task you’re facing. Bring up the emotions you felt, how proud you were of yourself. Remind yourself of the goal you’re trying to achieve by taking this big step. Visualize how proud you’ll be when you accomplish it!
Everyone needs a little extra motivation sometimes. So think of a nice reward you can give yourself when you accomplish what’s in front of you. Something out of the ordinary, that you can keep in your head when things get challenging and you’re tempted to quit. Then, be sure to honor your commitment to yourself and give yourself the reward. Savor it, and remind yourself what you did to earn it.
I use this one a lot (as you know if you read my blogs!), because it’s just so good. The power of the mind when it attempts to stop you from pushing yourself is not to be taken lightly. So don’t give your brain a chance to talk you out of it! The amazing Mel Robbins introduced us to the 5 Second Rule for situations just like this. And it’s simple. When you’re facing something daunting, before you have time to think, count down from 5, and then blast off! Literally count: 5-4-3-2-1, and do it! The 5 Second Rule eliminates the gap between thinking about doing something and actually taking action.
This simple three-step process works whether you need to study for a professional certification exam or just dread reorganizing your office. Try it, then hit me up and let me know how it works for you. And if you’re finding that you just can’t coach yourself to take these bold steps, I’m here to help.