We’ve all heard the saying, “Reward for effort”. It sounds pleasant and straight forward enough, doesn’t it?
Except, it’s not quite right or that simple.
What this saying fails to tell you, is that “effort” is just nice way of saying, “If you want success and all the nice rewards that go with it, it’s going to get uncomfortable, there will be times of inconvenience, and you may even go through some pain, and want to quit often”.
That’s the unavoidable reality of life. And here’s the punchline, it doesn’t matter if you are deliberately getting out of your comfort zone to pursue rewards and success, or if you choose to stay in your comfort zone, just drifting and plodding along, life is going to get uncomfortable, inconvenient, and painful.
Not fair I hear you say! Well, here’s the great democracy of life, you get to choose your pain.
Let me explain.
As part of my morning routine, I like to exercise. Pack Marching to be exact.
It’s a legacy fitness habit from my time in the military. In civilian terms, Pack Marching, is like hiking, but with a heavy backpack.
The military likes to take the fun out of most things. Like camping, but with no tent and a hole in the ground as your bed.
Or parachuting, but carrying a whole lot of kit and with heavy pack between your legs.
I like Pack Marching as it’s a great combination of resistance training and cardio, while getting some fresh air and sunshine (the military would make you do it the rain. Just to remove any fun).
The great bench metaphor
Recently, I saw this park bench on my morning hike, and I thought it made a great metaphor.
If you want to relax and get comfortable on the bench, you have to go through some discomfort to get there.
There are many variations of pain and discomfort, and it can manifest in any of the four main areas of your life; physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
Many of us have a common belief, that if we go through a certain amount of pain, there will be a reward or pleasure on the other side of the effort.
Where this belief lets us down, is that we often believe we should get the reward or benefits immediately after the effort. When we don’t get instant gratification, we assume the pain and effort wasn’t worth it, and we don’t repeat the behaviour.
This is where it gets complex, because more often than not, those behaviours/habits, which we know are not that great for us, and don’t require too much effort or discomfort, often deliver an immediate reward, which feels good, but they may not be the best for us long-term.
Therefore, for this article we are going to focus on the two common types of pain; The short-term pain of discipline, and the longer-term pain of regret.
As stated in the title of this column, we get to choose our inconveniences.
More often than not, we have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable.
The path to success ALWAYS has times of effort, discomfort and inconvenience.
There is no avoiding the pains of life, however, you get to choose which pain you want.
The short-term pain of discipline, that is getting the job done, or the longer term pain of regret for not making effort in the here and now.
One thing is for sure, success is not an easy and convenient journey.
It takes discipline, hard choices, and short-term sacrifices in the present to create long-term future joy.
Think about trying to save money and build up your bank balance.
Growing your saving account over the years, takes discipline in those daily moments choosing not to spend on some short-term treat, which can be uncomfortable and maybe inconvenient.
Of course it would feel great to jump online and buy a bargain on the ‘Black Friday Sales’, but the longer-term pain of regret will eat you up, as you have no deposit for your dream home, which has just come up for sale or funds for the family holiday to Europe.
It’s the same when you are building your database of prospects and clients.
You have to go through the short-term discomfort of getting out of your comfort zone and getting on the phone, door knocking and/or attending functions to talk to 20, 30, 50 people per day.
If you don’t make the calls, yes it’s a bit more comfortable in the short-term, yet the longer term pain will be an empty pipeline and no business.
If you have ever tried gaining or losing weight, you’ll know it’s painful and inconvenient at times.
It takes the pain of discipline to say “no” to certain foods, even though they may give you some short-term comfort.
Or saying “yes” to doing some exercise, even though you are tired after working all day, it’s cold and wet outside and it’s nice and warm in your bed (beware of the power of the pillow).
Enter the courage zone
When you are getting out of bed, early in the morning, when it’s still dark and cold outside, to do some exercise that you know is going to push you, having a ‘compelling vision’ on why you are doing this, can be a very powerful friend.
Compelling, for it needs to compel you to step out of your comfort zone and into the courage zone.
Becoming a better version of yourself to achieve your goals and dreams requires effort, work and times of discomfort, yet it’s the most important and rewarding work you will ever do.
And this is what I know. Comfort creates self-care.
However, discomfort can create self-respect.
When you can follow through on those behaviour/habits, even when you don’t feel like doing them or know you won’t see an immediate benefit, yet you know they are good for you, you build massive amounts of self-respect and self-belief, empowering you to do it again the next day, and the next.
Yes, other people can support you, but you need to the work. No other person can do this for you.
This is 100 per cent on you. You need to be your own biggest fan, motivator and rescuer.
There is no knight on a white horse or superhero coming to save you. You are your own hero.
This is the short-term pain of discipline, crushing the longer-term pain of regret. To quote The Matrix, “You are the one”.
The key here is to start identifying as the person you want to become and do the behaviours/habits that person would do.
The goal is less about making the calls, and more about identifying as a million dollar agent who acts like one.
The goal less about losing or gaining the weight, and more about being an active person that has healthy habits.
The goal is less about your bank balance, and more about identifying as a wealthy person that has habits to match
Choose the pain of progressing towards the person you aspire to be, and all the rewards you desire become a nice side effect of becoming that person.
The pain of short-term inconveniences and sacrifices, will be a distant memory when you are celebrating the achievements of your goals and dreams, sitting on your comfortable bench reflecting on worthwhile journey.