There are few ultimate truths in this world. One of those truths is that our time on this earth is limited. Another truth is that our limited time is not guaranteed and can end at any moment. Let me state that again. Our limited time is not guaranteed and can end at any moment. Chew on that for a moment.
Pretending that these truths don’t exist, the more time we waste not living our lives to our fullest potential and getting the most out of every second we have.
Time, and what we do with it, is our most valuable asset. It is when we truly acknowledge that fact that we can start taking steps to live our lives in a meaningful way and do everything possible to succeed while we still have the precious gift of time.
One of those steps is learning to take care of our bodies and our health to maximize the time we have. That requires sustained effort, a lot of sustained effort. It requires us to continually place ourselves in uncomfortable circumstances with challenging physical training and most people simply fall short and give up when the rubber meets the road.
It is in that moment, the moment when someone decides to give up, to give in, that I would like to help you change.
If my law enforcement and military training has taught me anything, it was to always push myself beyond my perceived limits. To refuse to quit. If giving up becomes a frequent occurrence, quitting becomes acceptable. Once quitting becomes acceptable, it becomes habit. Once the habit is developed, we lose the ability to succeed in every aspect of our lives. Our relationships suffer, our marriages suffer, our careers suffer, and we start to deny ourselves the reality that the effort is worth our time it takes to maximize our potential.
Did you read that correctly? Notice I didn’t say that we commonly think of our time as being worth the effort. It is whether the effort to continue, the effort to be uncomfortable, and the effort to persevere is WORTH OUR TIME. If you could change the way you think about your perspective of time, your whole world will change.
These 8 steps, borrowed from the Naval Special Warfare Center (NSWC) training and used to turn ordinary navy sailors into Navy Seal Warriors, will help you change this perspective and endure through anything that life throws your way.
- Develop Mental Toughness.
We are not born with the ability to be mentally tough. It is something we have to learn and consistently expose ourselves to. It isn’t easy but it is possible. The more we expose ourselves to those things we fear most and overcome them, we start to develop the confidence that we can accomplish almost anything. It doesn’t mean you become invincible. It does mean you can get very comfortable being very uncomfortable and retrain your brain not to quit when things get tough.
- Setting Micro & Macro-Goals.
A tall building designed to withstand hurricane force winds is not built in a day. The overall objective, or macro-goal is to complete the building. But in order to attain the objective of completing the building, it must undergo thousands of very small micro-goals (land clearing, foundation, steel pillars, shell building, concrete pours, flooring, etc.) The process of building our bodies from being weak & fickle, to strong & resilient is no different. Where the majority of well-intended people crash and burn is when the effort to improve makes them so uncomfortable that their innate fear response takes over and they quit.
To overcome this, analyze the overall objective first. Then break the overall objective into very small micro-goals and focus SOLELY on that one micro-goal at a time. At Wolf Den Strength, we utilize this objective based training to teach members, sometimes unwittingly, to take their sessions one task at a time and keep moving forward in the face of discomfort. Before long, completing the smaller tasks, or individual exercises, will result in completing their entire workout. This teaches them how to negotiate difficult workouts where breathing and fatigue are built in to the session.
- Mental Rehearsal or Visualizing Success.
Research has clearly found that visualizing how we’ll respond to a given particular set of circumstances will expose us to a practice rehearsal for going through the actual task. This lessens the fear response (increased heart rate, increased rate of breathing, increased body temp, tunnel vision).
For example, visualizing how you will respond to an attacker will help build the necessary responses to survive that attack should it ever happen. This is the same technique sales professionals use to visualize a successful sale, sports professionals use to win a race, MMA fighters use before entering the octagon, or a firefighter uses while enroute to a fully involved structure fire. Rehearsal of how and what you’ll actually do in any stressful situation, or calamity, over and over again will help you control your physical and mental responses when you do. Mental perseverance will result in physical success.
- Positive Self-Talk.
How many times do you talk to yourself throughout the day? Would it surprise you that on average you talk to yourself at the rate of 300-1000 words per minute? That’s a lot of conversation. Now imagine if you focused on what you can do instead of what you can’t do. What you will accomplish instead of what you’re scared to accomplish. This one mental skill can literally change how your brain responds to stress.
When you catch yourself with negative self-talk, block it out completely and replace it with positive self-talk. The Can-Do instead of the Can’t-Do will help train & override the fear signal to the brain.
- Control of Arousal.
When we are aroused in stressful situations or feel overwhelmed our bodies natural response is to release stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. This automatic and sudden response causes our heart to beat faster, breathe faster, blood vessel dilation in the arms/legs, and disturbances in our gastrointestinal system.
By visualizing or mentally rehearsing how we respond to the stress, practicing positive self-talk, and setting smaller more manageable micro-goals we can train our brain how to decrease the stressful response to any given scenario.
- Suck It Up!
Learn to embrace what you deem uncomfortable and what discourages you. The more often you practice taking yourself to the brink of severe discomfort you’ll discover that it will become more and more familiar to you to be there. This familiarity will help you control how you react to any such discomfort in the future. Eventually, you will find yourself developing greater self-confidence in everything you do and you might even start setting bigger goals for yourself.
- Be Happy & Fake It If You Must.
Your attitude about your circumstance, your task, your workout, your job, your relationship, or your time on this planet will dictate whether or not anything I’ve written above matters. If you have a crappy and negative attitude about anything your motivation will no doubt suffer. Once you allow that negative self-talk to creep into your head, it’s game over. Just fake it if you must but stay positive.
- Don’t Ever Ring the Bell.
For most of you this is metaphorical. The bell represents giving up. It’s always easy to ring the bell. Just stop and give up.
At NSWC, there is a bell that is rung when a Navy Seal trainee gives up and quits during their training. They must declare that they have given up and then go ring that bell in front of all their peers then lay down their helmets and walk away. For those few who NEVER RING THE BELL, they eventually continue to become our nation’s fiercest warriors only to face even greater challenges in real world combat.
Learn from those that make the ultimate sacrifice to protect us. Learn how to Persevere.
Is the effort to make real positive and healthy changes to your life worth your time? You bet your ass it is. And if it isn’t now, trust me, eventually it will be. Don’t wait until it’s too late for you to embrace the value time has on your life.
Change your perspective. Accept that your time is limited. Take steps and embrace the discomfort of hard physical training. Challenge yourself at every opportunity. Build confidence. Learn to endure and develop unbreakable resiliency.
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