EVERYONE has their own set of challenges to deal with, so you might as well embrace it and meet these challenges head on. We are all going to suffer in life, it is part of the ride. Here is the catch, you can CHOOSE your suffering. Yes, you read that correctly, you can choose how you are going to suffer in many cases. You can suffer during the preparation phase, inoculating yourself against the things you are about to face, or you can suffer when they arrive. Either way you are going to feel some pain, so you might as well take the initiative and control at least some of the pain and suffering that you feel. Let me give you some examples:
Doing anything that is a voluntary struggle is a great way to build your tolerance for pain. For me, working out, going on long hikes, and doing martial arts were all great training for building my resolve and allowing some of life’s little challenges to have minimal impact. When I “survived” a few of the workouts that I was doing in different phases of my athletic career, small problems like conflicts at work seem to pale in comparison. Struggling through an hour long hot yoga class make you laugh off standing in line at the airport. You give yourself a true measuring stick to gauge the severity of something you are perceiving as painful when you voluntarily suffer.
Quite a few years ago now, I decided I was going to write a book, despite the fact that I had no idea how to go about this. I learned a lot during the process, meaning I did not wait until I had most of the answers figured out before starting. If I had waited until I was “ready”, I may still be in preparation phase to this day. I just started writing, not in a linear fashion, but rather just sat down and wrote whatever I wanted to cover in that session. I organized everything at the end, and then recruited help to show me how to format everything and make it print ready. I had a friend do the photos for me, and I placed them in the proper layout for the book format. This scrambled the original layout I had already put in place, and added hours to the project. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know at that point, so I did the work and learned the lesson.
It was a struggle, and I changed portions of it more than once throughout the process. I kept discovering things I had missed, or assumed someone would know, and I’d have to backtrack and fix the error. It was a challenge, and it had it set of headaches during the weeks I worked on this. But in the end, I learned how to do almost all of the process myself, and went on to write four more books that I self published. I found a print house that did Print On Demand service, and had a contract with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million online services. This gave me selling rights on each of these major online retailer sites, and drop shipping direct to a purchaser. I had no idea this was possible when I started, but I did the work, I struggled through, and when I reached that phase of the project, I found more answers.
THAT is how you get things done…start now, and figure the rest out on the fly.
So if you extrapolate this out into your own life, what can you do now that will help you solve issues later? Do you need to upgrade your education to get a better paying job? If you think you don’t have time to do this, you are wrong; MANY people juggle a job or two, a family AND going to school online. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. I did it. I worked in medical sales 60 hours plus a week, slept with a pager next to my bed, and had to be at the hospital at odd hours sometimes in addition to my regular 12 hour schedule. But I wanted to increase my opportunities in the future, whether in that industry or another, and I had also promised my grandparents that I would go back to school and get a degree. They were mortified to hear that I was quitting college to be a Pro Racquetball Player, but it was something I had to do at that time in my life. I made good on that promise, doing a week’s worth of online class work on Saturday’s sitting in the nurses lounge in between trauma cases. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. You can too.
This is what I mean by choosing your brand of suffering. I could have coasted through and see what happened later. And what would have happened later was I left that job, and that industry for that matter, and without a degree I may have limited some of my options for future employment. I absorbed the pain then to ease the suffering later. When I do hard workouts, it is the same thing, only on a micro level instead of the macro example of just above.
So my question for you is: What SHOULD you be suffering through now instead of later? Do you need to make some life changes to give yourself more opportunities down the road? Do you need to end a bad relationship now in order to get into a better one later? We all know this is not easy, not think of the consequences if you don’t. Moving out of town or out of state for a job, relationship, or to give yourself some separation between the toxic family environment you grew up are all major changes, and the pain will be along for the ride. But, again, what if you don’t take that leap of faith, endure the pain that comes along for the ride, and see what happens on the other side of it? You are relegating yourself to a life of a brand of a pain that, while familiar, is just as damaging as leaping into the unknown. Grab your nuts and jump, sometimes that is the only way. Throw yourself into it and figure your way out. You are far more capable than you think, and you’ll never know to what degree until you make that leap.
Coming full circle, you NEED to give yourself a degree from the University of Adversity. You can increase your skill set and your tolerance levels at the same time when you undertake difficult challenges. Don’t shy away from things that give you bumps and bruises, embrace the scars and the stories that go along with them. Scars make for better stories anyway…
Don’t take the easy path, don’t coast and certainly don’t put off the suffering for later when doing so now would be A. your own choice and B. likely far less impactful. Face the challenges in life head on, and get some practice in ahead of time. Make yourself tougher by getting your butt kicked on the reg. Trust me, it is the best approach I can think of. I’ve done it that way, and if you have any aspirations for doing big things, you’ll need to do the same.
I wish you luck in your endeavors…. now go suffer!