Doing Hard Things
In the pursuit of improving your life, you will do hard things. That’s an unavoidable fact of life. Much like exercise and weight lifting, you can increase your capacity to do hard things, by doing hard things every day.
In this article, I’m going to share 18 hard things you can do every day to increase your ability to do hard things in your life. Do any of these regularly, and you’ll be better equipped to face even harder things.
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A person rock climbing next to a beautiful bayA person rock climbing next to a beautiful bay
Wake Up Early
Want something hard to do?
Wake up early.
It’s a great way to test yourself and start forcing yourself to do things that challenge you. It has the added benefit of giving your more time to accomplish your goals and to work on building yourself.
As a tip for waking up early, start at a reasonable time and gradually make it earlier and earlier.
To help in the waking up, try drinking water, brushing your teeth, and taking some deep breaths.
This helps in the process of waking up. The best part about this one is that you can do this every single day.
The early morning on a hillsideThe early morning on a hillside
Exercise – Specifically Lifting Heavy or Running Long
What could be a better challenge than physical exercise?
It will help you build your mental resilience by pitting you against harder opponents. What better opponents are there than gravity, fatigue, and distance?
Start doing pushups, pullups, running, situps or whatever else you’d need to start improving your strength and improving your endurance.
The mind and body are deeply connected so strengthening your body will strengthen your mind.
Shoes and bumbells on hard woodShoes and bumbells on hard wood
Meet Someone New
Meet someone new?
That isn’t hard!
Well, I mean meet someone new everyday.
Take those innocuous moments in which you pass through the day in drudgery.
My uncle does this very well. He actually sparks conversations with people he meets in elevators! Elevators!
The next time you go to the grocery store, go to a checkout line where there’s actually a human attendant. Then, ask them how their day is going.
The difficulty comes in trying to get past the superficial small talk that most of us engage in even with our closest relationships. Try and learn something about them and their life.
As we learned from Todd Hansen in episode 2 of the podcast, everyone has a story to tell.
Refuse to Complain
I challenge you to try and avoid complaining even for one day.
Most people complain about so many things in their lives.
If you are reading this, you are probably more fortunate than a large part of the Earth’s present population, not to mention all of the previous generations.
The challenge here is to avoid hyperbolic negativity. Refrain from focusing on what sucks. This will prepare you to do the hard thing of being grateful. More on that later.
A person smilingA person smiling
Ask for Feedback
Find at least one person who you respect and ask them for feedback on you as a person. Ask them to be 100% honest and to not hold back. Don’t defend yourself at all.
Do this daily from the people in your life.
Next, implement the feedback. Try and do the things people are telling you to do.
The benefit of this hard thing is training you to burn your ego and accept feedback. Likely, people will tell you things you don’t agree with about yourself.
As you get more feedback from different sources, you’ll see trends, and you’ll start to get the truth. Swallow your ego and improve. Ask for feedback.
Apparently, 90% of Americans aren’t eating enough vegetables or fruit. If you are reading this, there’s a high probability that you need to eat more greens!
So test yourself. Eat at least one serving of vegetables every single day for a month. For the purposes of this blog post, potatoes aren’t vegetables, beans aren’t vegetables and neither does corn.
Focus on dark green veggies, or colors other than green. This should help you get used to eating things that you don’t always like.
If possible, find a way to fix the veggie so you do like it. Why make it harder on yourself?
Practice a New Skill
Find a skill that you are a novice at. Work on improving it.
When I was younger, I used to take piano lessons. I then moved onto percussion in junior high. By far, the worst part was having to practice, especially when I felt I couldn’t make the music sound good.
Practice a skill you suck at. You probably won’t like it because we tend to hate things we suck at.
Embrace the learning curve. Let it wash over you like a wave and keep pushing forward. If needed, seek feedback (see previous tip).
Find ways for incremental improvement and use the new skill to help you improve your ability to do hard things generally.
Learn Something New
Do you hate math? Maybe, it’s English? Hate learning another language. Most people have one topic or another that they struggle with.
Well, try spending time learning that subject regularly. Try studying it for no reason besides the fact that it makes you stretch.
What this does is it helps you learn how to think in new ways. You likely hate the subject because it’s not easy for you to comprehend. Sites like Udemy and Khan Academy are great to learn something new.
The greater benefit of this is that often you can leverage that new knowledge to improve other aspects of your life such as your career or educational trajectory.
A person practicing the pianoA person practicing the piano
Keep Your Promises
Here’s one that we should all do regardless of our situation. For one day, make sure that you backup everything you say with your actions 100%. Don’t say you’ll do something without doing it.
This even extends to promises you give yourself. When you tell yourself you’ll stop eating junk food, or watch less television, hold yourself to your own word.
This challenge isn’t designed to get you to commit to less promises, but to fulfill more of them.
If nothing else, your close relationships will have greater trust in yourself, and you will have greater trust in yourself because you’ll know that you keep your word and when you say you’ll do a thing, you will.
Limit Social Media
I can hear you saying, “Well, I don’t even spend that much time on social media anyways.” You may be right, but it’s probable that you spend too much time on social media.
The goal here isn’t to eliminate social media altogether. Instead, focus on being strategic with your social media. Don’t just hop on because you are bored.
If you find yourself scrolling just to scroll, put away the phone and look at the world around you. If you feel you need to hop on for personal or business reasons, get on, do what you need to do and then get off.
Use social media as a tool instead of letting yourself be used by social media.
A computer with social mediaA computer with social media
Are you an adult? Then you are, on average, watching around 5 hours of TV a day. Ever feel like you don’t have enough time in the day? Turn off the TV and you’ll find you have more time.
I’m being a little facetious, but the idea is to turn off the TV.
Because you are reading this, it probably means you already watch less TV than the average American (most wouldn’t read a blog post like this), but try and go an entire month without watching TV.
I knew someone who, after he was married, asked his wife if they could go an entire year without buying a television. She asked if he was crazy.
Our culture is connected to a screen and unplugging might be just the hard thing you need to boost your personal growth.
Read a Book
Maybe instead, you need to push yourself to read a book. Even 10 minutes a day.
Most people don’t read more than 4 books in a year. I’m all for action and doing more than you read, but at four books a year, that’s not setting the bar very high.
Someone once told me that people pay a lot of money to have a mentor teach them all the secrets of their successful life.
Well, we could pay much less for a book about that person and their thoughts. Books are an amazing way to shorten the learning curve and learn better ways to reach your goals.
A book and glasses and a coffeeA book and glasses and a coffee
Be On Time
Try being right on time to everything. Don’t get there late. Show that you value your own time and the time that other people put into things.
This goes in line with keeping the promises you make. If you tell someone you are going to be somewhere at a certain time, make sure you get there.
If you get somewhere early that’s ok. Just make sure you are on time. People will start to assume you are a responsible person. That’s a good thing.
Give Genuine Compliments to People Around You
People all around us are starving for some appreciation. They just want someone to tell them they are special and that someone notices that. In every interaction you have with someone, tell them something nice about themselves.
You’ll find that the interaction will go much smoother, they’ll like you more, and you’ll like them more. Compliment them, but the hard part comes from doing it genuinely.
That means you’ll have to think about what attributes of the other person you admire. The more time you think about the other person, the better.
2 people high fiving on a beach2 people high fiving on a beach
Look People in the Eyes
Look every single person in the eyes. Make yourself know and the other person that you are a person. You deserve respect, and you deserve to respect other people as well. It might feel awkward.
That’s what makes it a hard thing. Get comfortable looking people in the eyes. It will make you feel more confident and it will make others perceive that confidence. Look people in the eyes.
Leave Things Clean
In the Boy Scouts, they had a motto of “Leave no trace.” The idea was to leave a campsite better than you found it. While the Boy Scouts have since changed, the principle is an excellent one. Wherever you go, leave it at least cleaner than how you found it.
At the grocery store, I see shopping carts left in the most inconvenient places in the parking lot. I always put at least one away. Do something like that. It’s hard because you’ll start to notice how many things are messy.
a person cleaning a countera person cleaning a counter
Don’t Talk About Yourself
This one will have most of us wringing our hair by days end. I’ve already done exactly what I’m telling you not to do!
In the human mind, despite all of our best efforts, we think about ourselves a lot. Take some time and at least don’t talk about yourself. Obviously, other people may ask. Simply respond and then ask about them.
The goal is to make the focus of conversations the other person. By doing this, you start to train yourself to care more about other people, a trait that will come in handy many times. You won’t be perfect, but other people will at least recognize that you also care about them.
Say Thank You
Try and develop a mindset of gratitude. Recognize the things others do for you. I believe that if we thanked as much as we should, we wouldn’t have to say sorry as much as we do.
Be grateful and let others know it. Doing it for an hour is easy. For a day difficult, for a month, life changing.
A neon sign that says thank youA neon sign that says thank you
The key thing with each and every single one of these hard things is the word “do”. If you don’t “do” then nothing changes. Pick one and start today.
Doing these things will help you develop your ability to do other hard things in your life.
It will help you strengthen your resolve and give you the ability to build your life the way you want it.
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