Lately, I havenâ€™t been training as hard as I should be. Actually, to be honest, Iâ€™m not doing anything as well as I should be; Iâ€™m not as productive as Iâ€™d like to be, Iâ€™m not reading as much as Iâ€™d like to, and Iâ€™m not eating as well as Iâ€™d like to.
Determined to get myself into better shape – hockey seasonâ€™s been over for the past 3 months or so, and I havenâ€™t done as much as Iâ€™d like to to have kept myself in shape – I bought a pair of new running shoes on Sunday and went running (well, sprinting) yesterday.
What happened? Before every set of sprints, I was consumed by fear. I was feeling the pain of running in advance. I was nervous – not because I was worried that I wouldnâ€™t perform well, but because I knew that, in order to grow and get faster, I was going to have to run. Which meant that Iâ€™d have to go through pain; my lungs would burn while my legs would be begging me to stop. Even though I knew that I had to run and go through the pain, I tried to stop myself. I tried holding myself back.
Pain Leads to Growth
With the idea of â€œlifehacksâ€ – small, easy changes that, once implemented, can boost your results in a big way – becoming more prevalent, Iâ€™ve been shying away from pushing my comfort zone. Since I read Tim Ferrissâ€™s The Four Hour Body Iâ€™ve been a proponent of training smarter, not harder — and I typically advocate this approach in the rest of life as well.
But Iâ€™m coming to the realization that, even if you cut all the corners possible by â€œworking smartâ€ instead of working hard, you still will have to work actively to break away from your comfort zone in order to experience real, lasting growth.
With lifehacks and working smart, you can make tremendous gains quickly because youâ€™re replacing the things youâ€™re doing wrongly with the correct, most efficient method. In essence, you learn how to do things the â€œrightâ€ way. This is analogous to learning the correct technique in a sport.
However, learning the correct technique on its own isnâ€™t good enough. Unless you challenge yourself, your results will not improve much, even when youâ€™re working â€œsmartâ€. If youâ€™re not reaching toward progression, you will regress, even if youâ€™re doing things the â€œsmartâ€ way.
Put another way: by working smart, youâ€™re going to achieve growth relative to your previous inefficient ways. But notice that no one tells you how to improve beyond working smart, and itâ€™s not because there isnâ€™t a way to grow beyond that; Iâ€™ve been training â€œsmartâ€ for the past couple of months, but I still have some serious improvement to do.
You grow beyond just working smart by working smart and hard. You have to push your limits while working smart in order to achieve your true potential.
What makes the idea of working smart so compelling to so many people is that they feel like they donâ€™t have to work hard anymore to push their comfort zones to see improvement. Thatâ€™s false. Even when youâ€™re working smart, you can always improve by working harder, by pushing your comfort zone, and feeling some pain. Working smart shouldnâ€™t make you fail-proof, it should only make you fail more spectacularly as you try new things at an advanced level — and crash and burn along the way.
The pain associated with failure and breaking free from your comfort zone is worth it, though: your performance, almost without exception (unless you overtrain) will improve over time, and the pain will be worth it.
Instead of resisting the pain, embrace it. Itâ€™s only temporary.
So, go, my readers. Reading this post wonâ€™t make you experience any pain.
Go do something that will.