Choose the pain you want

Have you ever noticed how you are sold this image of your dream life in only a positive manner e.g. take the following steps and you are guaranteed to succeed? Too often, the people who peddle these dreams fail to make any real mention of the uncomfortable truth i.e to succeed at anything you must be willing to choose and embrace the pain. The road ahead is not comfortable so choosing the most comfortable option will not get you the life you want. If you require a big change in your life, then it requires a big change in how you see yourself. And that requires pain.

Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Before you can achieve great goals and change, you must set effective goals which challenge and inspire you to take the consistent action.

For more great advice to set and pursue great goals, check out 'Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting'.

Improving my sleep

Last year, I had great difficulty getting sufficient sleep. So, I took the time to read up on a sleeping system devised by Nick Littlehales. I changed the way that I view sleep and rest, adjusting my wake-up time to 6 am and bedtime to 10:30 pm. It was a pain getting used to these changes but the benefits have been unreal. Until yesterday, when I realised that I wasn’t getting enough time for my morning meditation. So, today I have made another adjustment bringing both my wake-up time and bedtime forward by 30 mins. It is going to be a pain for another few days as it moves everything in my life around such as meal times, exercise, and it even limits what television shows I can watch in the evenings. But again, the benefits will be worth it for me as I will have a much better chance of enjoying the day that I want.

What has that to do with performance?

You know how important sleep is to your energy levels but that is not the point of this article. The point is that no matter what you want to improve in life, you are going to have to take some pain. Pain is inevitable. 2600 years ago, the Buddha said that all life is suffering. He was right then, and he is still right today. We spend a lot of our lives trying to avoid pain but on the other side of pain lies growth. You don’t even have to get through the pain before you experience growth; it comes with every small step that you take.

That might all seem strange but consider the following:

  • If you want to get fit, you have to endure the pain of training and pushing yourself further each time
  • If you want to lose weight, you have to take the pain of passing up on the food you would really like, in favour of the healthier options
  • If you want to write a book, you have to choose the pain of sitting down to write over some more enjoyable activity

Whatever your goal is, you are going to have to choose some form of pain to get there. Of course, as with my sleep routine, you are going to adapt and the choice will seem less painful. But then when you want to push things a little further, you are going to have to take on more pain.

But as with my sleep routine, with every step you take, you get greater growth and rewards. If you keep exercising, you will get fit; keep making the right dietary choices and you will lose weight, and if you keep sitting down to write, you will write that book. Choosing to take the pain becomes a vote of confidence in yourself.

Pursuing Excellence

Facing the pain required to achieve your goals is part of the excellence lifestyle. You can learn more about the excellence lifestye, with my FREE Pursuing Excellence Report.

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Pain dictates the life you experience

You are where you are in life because of the sense of identity you hold onto. If you are going to change anything in your life, you are going to have to change that identity. The bigger the change, the bigger the change in identity that is required. And the bigger the change in identity, the more pain that lies in store for you.

Growth is about choosing pain. But it is not about choosing any old pain. It is about choosing the pain you are willing to tolerate. And make no mistake, you are always choosing between different forms of pain e.g. if you choose to watch tv when you should be training, you are choosing the pain of being unhealthy. You may not feel that pain right away but give it time and you will.

You may never have realised that you design your own life by choosing which pain you are willing to accept and which you are not. It is your life to live so, you get to choose which pain you want. Just have the honesty to accept that you are making the choice. Too often, in my own life, I have been dishonest about this. I played the victim card claiming that life, or people, were against me. Or even more annoyingly, I claimed that I just had bad luck, bad genetics, etc. Sure, I have had some bad experiences, but I chose to live in those experiences rather than learn from them and push on.

Getting real with yourself

If you are not achieving the goals you set for yourself, then you need to revisit them with greater honesty. Ask yourself 2 questions:


1. What is the pain I will need to experience to get this done?

Be as detailed as you can be. Consider all possible pain, from physical pain to the pain of having to pass on an alternative opportunity. And don’t forget that sneaky pain – the pain of having to give up a story you have been clinging to as a defense.


Am I prepared to take that pain?

This is where the greatest level of honesty is required. When push comes to shove, are you willing to knuckle down and take the painful choices? If you are not, then it is time to let that goal go. Clinging on to a goal that you don’t want only causes you to beat yourself up mentally and emotionally for not having achieved it.

Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Before you can achieve great goals and change, you must set effective goals which challenge and inspire you to take the consistent action.

For more great advice to set and pursue great goals, check out 'Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting'.

And finally

Remember that this is your life and you get to make the decisions. Just remember that you are constantly making those decisions. Be conscious of them, take responsibility for them, and design the life you want. If you want to lie to everybody else about why your life is the way it is, that’s your choice too. But don’t lie to yourself. You’re better than that.