The door looked like it was a mile away. The orange sky was quickly fading, and with it Jon’s strength to move. He lurched past the desks, struggling to keep his footing. By the time he got to the door, he wasn’t sure if he could find his car beyond.
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I’m really tired. I mean really tired. Like Eminem “knees weak, arms are heavy” tired. Even just sitting here typing right now hurts a bit. Why? Well, for the past few months I’ve been doing only an ok job at exercising. By that I mean I have been doing 4 days a week of weight lifting, which honestly in itself was hard enough. But I realized I should be doing cardio, so this week is the first week of me adding some miles to my routine. Of course, this is also my first week back from vacation, which means I have not exactly timed things too well.
Which brings me to today’s subject: mental endurance. You can probably figure out what mental endurance is simply by hearing the name of it, but we’re going to talk about it all the same. Mental endurance really comes down to answering “Yes” every time you ask yourself “can I do this?” though I can definitely see room for the argument that it is saying “No” every time you ask or tell yourself “I can’t do it.” Either way, mental endurance is what helps us push through barriers within our own bodies. Think about that 6:00 am alarm clock on a Monday morning. Getting out of bed for work is hard, right? It really takes a couple “I can do this” thoughts before you can roll out of bed and get moving. Same with anything else.
That being said, mental endurance can’t make up for everything. At some point, your body will hit a breaking point. Usually you should stop just before you hit this point when you are really pressing yourself, but it can be extremely hard to judge when that point is sometimes. Even harder is knowing when to stop taking a break. I was thinking about how difficult it was for me to put in a couple miles when just a couple years ago I could run roughly 5 miles a day and hardly break a sweat. Which means pain is a relative factor. So, overcoming pain is relative too. While I certainly don’t want to pull a muscle by exercising too hard, I also want to make sure I’m not babying myself at all. That can be a tough thing to monitor alone. In fact, self motivation can be really had for people—I think that it’s the main reason people hire personal trainers, because it’s hard to get yourself going when its all on you.
Of course, this is true for any form of success. Being internally motivated to go above and beyond what your comfort zone is hard for anyone. Sometimes people bite off too much, and in doing so they give up even worse when they fail. Or think they fail. I can’t tell you how many times I have talked myself into thinking I had failed before I had actually failed. But to succeed it takes gritting through the pain, which is where the idea of “blood, sweat, and tears” comes from. But realize that, for many people, that’s not just a saying. It’s a reality. And it’s scary. But to succeed you have to be willing to fail. Again and again and again. But when you finally do come out on top, every failure won’t look like a loss, but instead just another step you had to take towards being great.