Ask Better Questions + Discreet Steps = Profit (Sort of)

I recently read two great articles that combined to reframe some of the morale and progress issues I’ve been having in (and out of) the gym lately.

The first article you should read is You Probably Know to Ask Yourself, “What Do I Want?” Here’s a Way Better Question by Mark Manson. Manson posits that asking what you want from life is an unhelpful question. It won’t get you anywhere. A better one is “What are you willing to struggle against?”.

“How do you choose to suffer?” Mason asks in a different way. He tells a great story about his dream of becoming a famous musician.

“I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.”

Here's a great example of me struggling with a difficult technique.
Here’s a great example of me struggling with a difficult technique.

In Krav Maga, are the bruises and long hours in the gym worth it to have the knowledge and skill to defend myself? To be in great shape? To build my confidence and feel powerful and capable? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. The end result is super important to me, but the learning process is the fun part. Improving or learning a new technique, struggling to get it, and then seeing it click into place… now that’s fun.

Even my worst nights at the gym aren’t enough to make me stop. The bruises, scrapes, long hours, and frustrations are the parts I’m willing to struggle through.

The second article you should go read is Here’s the Strategy Elite Athletes Follow to Perform at the Highest Level by Ryan Holiday. I’m not an elite athlete and the article isn’t even really about the best athletes in the world. It’s about the hard problems we want to work on but are too afraid to tackle.

You get out of [crappy positions] by addressing and eliminating each part of that position through small, deliberate action—not by trying (and failing) to push it away with superhuman strength.

photo-1444359917174-44daf23d2137
One step at a time, my friend.

This reframing can relieve the anxiety of seeking overnight success in any pursuit. That business idea you wanted to launch. The book you wanted to write. The quilt you wanted to finish. Those might sound impossible when you start the work. The trick is to take it one task at a time.

Today, I will sit down and I will write a word. That will turn into a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page.

Success happens through small, purposeful steps. One tiny success after another.

How often do we assume that change is impossible because it’s too big?

All these issues are solvable. Each would collapse beneath the process. We’ve just wrongly assumed that it has to happen all at once, and we give up at the thought of it. We are A-to-Z thinkers, fretting about A, obsessing over Z, yet forgetting all about B through Y.

I have to trust that the process of tackling one issue at a time will get me where I want to go. Keep my eye on the goal, but recognize there are a million mini actions required before I get there.

Okay, so what does this all mean?

  1. You have to decide what matters to you enough to suffer through the unpleasant parts of the process.
  2. And then take it one problem and one small success at a time. Overnight successes are always backed by lots of small, discreet steps.

In other words show up, because the process is worth it, right?

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