Doing the right thing is exhausting.
Going to the gym. Eating the right foods. Writing your first book. Being present with your partner. Developing your passion project. Putting in extra hours at work. Giving 100% all-out effort. Putting down the remote and reading a book. Moving to Africa to start a school. etc. etc. etc.
Why is it that everything worth doing is hard? And everything unworthy of our time happens without effort or thought?
Thinking about these questions reminded me of the times I was able to push my comfort zone consistently. The times when I was able to do the right thing and enter periods of exponential personal growth.
All of these times had one thing in common - I had a fire under my ass.
Here's the story...
In the 80 and 90's Astroturf became very famous for high-use athletic fields. Astroturf didn't need to be watered, maintained or manicured. You showed up, and the field was ready. If you watched American football during the 90’s, you saw a lot of games played on Astroturf.
In the early 2000's most high-use athletic fields in the inner city, areas were changed from Astroturf to a new type of turf called "Sprinturf," which was superior in almost every single way.
Overall it was about 10X better than Astroturf - fewer rug burns, more cushion, limited injuries and it made the transition to playing on real grass much smoother.
But, there was one fatal flaw of Sprinturf which happened on hot summer days. After roasting in the late summer sun, the rubber cushioning of the Sprinturf absorbed heat like a giant cast iron skillet. The combination of leather cleats, blister-generating friction, and black bits of rubber caused your feet to sweat, burn and blister. So much that, at the end of practice your feet resembled bubbly mozzarella on top of a hot Neapolitan pizza. Any time you stood in place for more than a few seconds your feet began to sizzle, and you could feel blisters forming on your toes, heels, and soles.
To make matters more intense, our head coach harnessed his inner Herb Brooks and would yell and scream at us for any sign of apathy, laziness or lack of 100% all out effort. If someone were dogging it or saving their energy, we would all pay with sprints until our legs, lungs, and feet burned. It was grueling, and at times I wondered if I was going to pass out.
With an extreme scene of yelling, screaming, burning feet and where laziness wasn't tolerated, you learned to move fast, stay focused and give 100% all-out effort. Otherwise, your feet would burn off, and you'd be cut, publicly humiliated or be shamed into submission. There wasn't time to procrastinate or be a perfectionist.
The key to our motivation and perseverance was in the environment. It simply demanded a sense of urgency. My point is - whatever goal you are trying to achieve, it's a lot easier to do the right thing when there are consequences for failure.
So instead of blaming yourself for failing with diet, business, relationship, fitness goal, or passion project and falling into a cycle of procrastination and self-loathing...
LIGHT A FIRE UNDER YOUR ASS.