You go to bed with aching disappointment and regret about another wasted day.
You feel like time is flying by, and you are not living the life you want.
You wish you dared to try something new, follow your dreams and take more risks.
Instead, you make excuses for why you can’t do it.
You might feel that a task will be too challenging and that you don’t have what it takes to complete it. You never seem to have enough time or money to pursue your interests. You might not know where to start, or you are afraid to fail.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Last week I came across The 12-Hour Walk book by Colin O’Brady. At its core, the book is an invitation to commit to the 12-hour walk and transform your limiting beliefs.
The idea is simple. You walk out your front door and stay outside for 12 hours by yourself. It isn’t the race. It doesn’t matter how many miles you walk during this time. You can choose any route. You must get disconnected from the outside world. No music, podcasts, social media, texts, or phone calls.
The minute I thought about doing the walk, my mind came up with about a dozen excuses why I couldn’t do it. Instead of talking myself out of it, I committed to doing the walk the following weekend.
On Saturday, August 6th, I left my apartment at 9:20 am and spent 12 hours walking 30 miles around Manhattan Island.
It was the longest walk I’ve ever done. Along with giving me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, it also reminded me about some core beliefs that empower me to do things I’ve never done before and live my life to the fullest.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable
It’s natural to want to avoid discomfort, both physical and physiological. However, avoidance of pain often means that you miss out on opportunities and life experiences.
By pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, you evolve as a person and discover your full potential. It allows you to realize that you are stronger than you think. It creates a feeling of accomplishment and increases your confidence and self-esteem.
I admit that sometimes I intentionally seek uncomfortable experiences. It’s one of the reasons that drives me to climb mountains, do Ironman triathlons, run marathons and ultramarathons, or take improvisation classes.
It’s the way to test my limits and see how far I can push myself. It’s the game that requires every ounce of my mental and physical strength. I know the mind can be my primary opponent or leading supporter.
The experience of overcoming pain and discomfort helps me discover my resilience and inner strength. Challenges also teach me to look for humor and stay positive.
While the 12-hour walk wasn’t challenging physically, some parts of the experience did feel a bit uncomfortable. First, it was a hot day with temperatures above 90°F and no shades in some areas.
Second, walking through some neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan (Inwood, Washington Heights, Harlem) didn’t feel comfortable. Finally, the route in Upper Manhattan was confusing, and I got lost several times. Also, my feet and my back hurt after hours of walking.
We all have different discomfort tolerance. You can learn to be more comfortable with discomfort by choosing to stretch your limits and doing uncomfortable things. For example, you can try a new activity, meet new people, or take a public speaking class.
The following steps can help you deal with uncomfortable experiences.
Recognize and embrace the uncomfortable feeling, knowing you are getting beyond your comfort limits.
Focus on what is within your control.
Remind yourself what you want to accomplish and why.
Recognize your progress, including your prior achievements.
Find some humor in a situation and allow yourself to smile or laugh.
Stay focused and keep going, no matter how badly you want to quit.
When you learn to embrace discomfort, you can apply this skill to any area of your life. Challenging undertakings, such as applying for a new job or breaking up an unhappy relationship, may seem more doable once you know you are ok being uncomfortable.
Self-care is not optional
Self-care requires listening to your body and soul to live a healthy and happy life. It involves noticing and understanding the messages your body sends you. Several examples of these messages include hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, pleasure, and various emotions.
Many people ignore or suppress these messages by allowing their minds to overwrite them. You might view fatigue, headaches, body aches, digestion issues, and mood swings as a normal part of life. You take several painkillers when something feels off and continue with your life.
However, these symptoms are the body’s indication that something needs to be adjusted or changed. Maybe you’ve neglected basic self-care activities, such as getting sufficient sleep, staying hydrated, working out, and eating healthy meals. Perhaps you need to slow down, rest and recover.
Solving problems when they are still small is easier and more manageable. Let’s say you notice a small blister while walking. Instead of stopping and treating it, you decide to ignore it. However, after several hours of walking, that blister gets significantly worse and more painful.
Small, quickly addressable issues can turn into serious problems, which will occupy your mind and drain your energy. That’s why paying attention to your needs and taking care of them is essential for well-being.
As I did the 12-hour walk on a hot day, I paid close attention to staying adequately hydrated and using sunblock. I took breaks as needed and ensured to eat to maintain my energy level. I also got proper sleep the night before to feel well rested. The day after the walk, I did yoga and got some rest.
You can optimize your energy level by paying attention to your body’s messages and making necessary adjustments. When your energy level is high, you can better handle any challenge that comes your way.
Don’t let your dreams stay dreams
The only way to achieve your dreams is to take action. While positive attitude, empowering thinking, and visualization have some merit, thoughts without actions get nothing done.
Sometimes people overthink whether they should pursue specific endeavors, weighing the pros and cons. A lot of time can be spent planning and figuring out all the details.
Analysis and planning are essential. However, at some point, you must get out there, take the first step, and figure out the rest as you go along. Otherwise, doubt and fear can overtake and just kill your dreams.
As you pursue your dreams, you need to find the courage to deal with uncertainty.
Many people are afraid of the unknown. This fear is driven by the feeling that you do not have control over how life events will unfold, which could be unsettling.
The fear of the unknown is often based on the fear of failure. It is especially true when you are about to embark on a new, unfamiliar journey. Although uncertainty can be scary,
it can also be exhilarating.
“Life is meant to be experienced. Put yourself out there. Do things you’ve never done. Live a life where in the end you will have no regrets.”
Never let excuses stop you from achieving your dreams and living your best life. It’s easy to find reasons why you can’t do something. Instead, focus on what you can do and get it done.