Can you remember a painfully defining moment in your life?
A day where you decided to draw a line in the sand and finally do something about a problem you’d been facing for some time.
You didn’t know it at the time, but that line would end up dividing your life into two parts:
- Before that day
- After that day
Seeing the highest ever number on the scale.
These are all painful, but they move us forward.
Pain demands change
Your problems will continue to be problems until they get bad enough.
When hot tears roll down your cheeks and you decide you’re done tolerating it.
Until then, you’ll suffer.
Just enough for it to be manageable. But more than you need to.
Unhappy enough to be dissatisfied, but not enough to do anything about it.
You’re caught in a web of inaction and discontent.
But you’ll never do anything about losing weight, saving money, or leaving the relationship – unless you reach your breaking point.
Change builds you
It’s painful and ugly.
But taking a good look in the mirror is the beginning of becoming better.
Conscious, painful, passionate, change – that is positive.
Negative personal development is the opposite.
Mindless, habitual, and just barely acceptable.
It’s dirt that clings to you until it’s shaken off.
But you can use your low points and discomfort to make powerful breakthroughs in life.
That pain inspires change that makes your life better. It makes the lives of the people around you better, too.
Like early on in my business… One day I was walking to the gym and I was anxious about where my next coaching client would come from.
I was so overwhelmed that I thought I’d puke.
I turned around. Walked home.
Built out a coaching program and reached out to a dozen previous clients.
Paid for my next 3 months of bills before dinner time.
The region beta paradox
Imagine you wanted a coffee.
The coffee shop is a mile away.
You put your shoes on and start walking.
It takes you 18 minutes to get there, and taste cappuccino.
But now imagine the coffee shop is 3 miles away.
You’re less likely to walk that.
So you hop in the car.
And you get there in 7 minutes.
That’s the region beta paradox.
You have a threshold for discomfort.
Just like how your room gets messy. And it’s not a big deal until one day you decide you’re tired of living like a slob and do a major clean – throwing away old clothes and tidying up.
The same is true for your physical and mental health.
Gained 5-10 lb over the summer?
No big deal…
Gained 60 lb since lockdowns, feeling like shit every day, and tired of hearing your partner (or your doctor) tell you that it’s time to lose the weight?
Time for big action.
Those low points in your life are when the distance to the coffee shop is finally large enough for you to get in the car.
They’re the moment when you realize just how messy your room has become.
That is the day you draw a line in the sand and change for the better.
That’s why I built 50 For 50 – it’s a coaching program for guys who want to lose 50 lb over the next 6 months.
They’re all in a group together, and working towards upgrading their lives through massive action.
Not just a 6 week diet to look good on the beach.
So, here’s the idea – pain becomes progress.
But you have to hit your threshold first.
‘Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change’ – Tony Robbins
Too out of shape to be happy
A few years ago, I was an overweight, stressed-out, short order cook.
I managed to land a date with a cute girl and we decided to go for a hike up a nearby mountain to an alpine lake.
The day is going amazing – all laughs and smiles.
The first date I’d been on in over a year.
A gorgeous, turquoise and frigid lake.
She throws her top off and wants to jump in with me.
But I was so self-conscious about being shirtless that I didn’t want to swim.
Unhappy with how soft I was. Love handles. Man boobs. No confidence.
And to make matters worse, I had no idea how to fix it.
Helpless. Embarrassed. Suffering.
It took that day for me to decide that I needed to improve my own life.
I wrote about it in my journal and ended up quitting my job 3 months later.
Went back to school to become a personal trainer, and got myself in order.
Now my life is the best it’s ever been.
I run a business that helps people transform their bodies and upgrade their lives just like I did.
My girlfriend is loving and passionate.
There’s purpose and order.
Not to mention – I’m in the best shape of my life…
Pain happens for a reason.
Keep ignoring your wakeup calls and someone will bang on the door.
Ignore the knocking and the door gets kicked down.
The next thing you feel is a slap across the face when you least expect it.
Change is growth
Take my client Taylor for example – who had low testosterone, and 40 extra pounds of body fat he hated.
His job was dragging, and his wife told him that he was no fun to be around.
After drawing a line in the sand, he got his life in order.
Lost the weight. Bought a Harley. Got promoted.
Or Steve, who was enjoying his coffee, like any other morning, until this:
‘I don’t think we should get married anymore”
His fiancee slammed the door. He sat there until his coffee went cold.
Unhappy with his physical health.
Mental health in the dumps.
Career a mess.
He decides to get in shape.
Fast forward 6 months and I receive this text:
“60 fucking lbs down dude. It’s been a long time since I could say that I’m proud of myself, but today I am. I just got a big promotion and moved to Toronto.”
Every single time I see a guy make a change like this – they upgrade their lives in the process.
It’s not just about your physical health at that point.
It’s about respecting yourself enough to make necessary changes.
Self-love isn’t binging netflix and buying shit you don’t need.
It’s about showing up for yourself and the people in your life.
It’s about refusing to be defined by your circumstances, and choosing your own path forward.
That’s your ethical obligation. It’s what makes you, you.
The fact that you have something worth fighting for is worth nothing until you do something about it.
Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken – Frank Herbert, ‘Dune’
Here’s my moral call to action for you: become the person you strive to become.
Especially if things are hard for you right now.
Do it as a testament to your character and values.
To set a better example for the people around you.
Choose to change and shoulder your share of the burden.
Cleaning your room makes you sneeze.
Because there’s dust that’s been accumulating.
And you’ve been comfortable with it.
So pushing into the next level of pain hurts a lot.
But your alternative is to slowly ease your way into that pain.
Letting it creep in slowly.
Until one day you wake up and realize that the last year you spent in your relationship has been complete dogshit for both of you, and you need to leave.
Or your bank account hasn’t been growing for years, and you’re sick of stealing from your future self by being mindless.
Or your doctor tells you that your A1C, cholesterol, or blood pressure is high and you need medication to keep you safe.
That’s real pain.
Sneezing is nothing.
Low points lead to breakthroughs
You’ll keep suffering more until you do something about it.
The difference between the person you are and the person you want to be is creating friction in your life.
Answer the wake-up call of change.
For yourself and everyone else in your life.
Or choose a life of painful ignorance.
And learn too late what all that suffering meant.
People get too comfortable with being increasingly unhappy.
Never getting truly mad at the pain they’re in.
Never crossing that threshold where change is the only option in their minds.
When massive action seems to happen no matter what is going on in your life.
Pain = Breakthroughs.
Start making changes in your life using this framework:
1 – Embrace discomfort:
It hurts. That’s good.
Figure out exactly what it is you’re unhappy about in life.
2 – Follow it:
Ask yourself why it sucks. If you’re really serious about this and you sit with it for a moment… you’ll lead yourself to a limit-case.
The worst possible outcomes for whatever is causing you grief.
You stay fat and unhappy. You eat yourself into an early grave while your wife and children look on with sad eyes.
That’s your ‘anti-vision’.
3 – Flip it:
What’s the exact opposite of that painful scenario?
This is your purpose.
That’s who you really want to be. You’ll know it’s real if you feel compelled to show up as this person in your life.
4 – Get closer:
You won’t be able to fix all your problems overnight.
But you can get one day closer.
Anything and everything can be learned when you have access to the internet.
There are people who dedicate their lives to creating tools to help you.
People who have built proven systems that have helped hundreds of people just like you to accomplish the exact things you want.
So choose change.
Or at the very least…
Decide how badly you’ll suffer before it’s worth it.