We want to be healthy, strong, and in shape.

We want to be smart, powerful, and successful.

We want that relationship, that family, that life.

So many of us want to attain these wonderful attributes, yet so few of us are willing to do the work it takes to acquire them.

We quest Ironman and eek out an ironing board

If you’ve ever worked out to get physically fit, you know that euphoric feeling you get when you can finally lift something you once couldn’t before you started. Your muscles have been broken down and rebuilt enough times that strength has increased and you’ve become more powerful.

Similarly, when running or doing aerobic activity, your cardio ability progresses to where you can go longer and faster.

I think life is that same way.

Growth is hard

We’ve all gone through *stuff*. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. What we fail to recognize is that we learn far more from the times we’ve lost than we ever can from our wins.

Think about how your life’s deepest challenges have:

  • broken you down and rebuilt you.
  • developed resiliency, strength and endurance.

And whether these struggles are a result of grinding out a goal or the impact of your own poor choices and circumstances, you know this:

  • Growth is discomfort.
  • Growth requires intention.
  • Growth demands engagement.

Growth is hard.
After doing a tough workout or a long run – HOLY BATBALLS you know you’re going to be sore the next day, right?!?!

But tomorrow, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be better for it.

Pain vs. Pleasure

While we know this to be true, intellectually, we often try to avoid contending with the development of our mental health, relationships, or emotional intelligence

Many of us simply don’t grow because we refuse to change our mindset to recognize that the very things that appear painful at first are actually the very elements that will bring great pleasure.

  • Updating your resume. Networking a career fair. Calling a headhunter to change jobs.
  • Strategizing a bizplan. Building a team. Buying a domain. Creating a website.
  • Saying you’re sorry. Taking responsibility. Listening. Asking for help.
  • Putting yourself out there. Creating content. Establishing authority.
  • Building a personal brand. Filming a video of yourself. Talking about yourself.
  • Reading books. Hiring a coach. Listening to podcasts. Attending motivational events.
  • Admitting an addiction to a friend. Finding a counselor. Getting therapy.

All of these require us confronting something scary, intimidating, and seemingly – painful.

Mental hurdles, limiting beliefs, or dark secrets.

We avoid pain.

Instead, we chase after pleasurable things – Cheetos (and I do love those cheesy deliciousness), sporting events, binge-watching Netflix, dance clubs, video games, pornography, alcohol, etc.

We think, on some level, that these things will bring us pleasure. Unfortunately, the pleasure is a fleeting, temporary diversion – keeping us from actually attaining what we really want – moving ahead.

Fulfilling work. Doing good. Financial stability. Deep relationships. Accomplishment.

When we seek only pleasure, we find pain – the frustrations of never arriving at where we want actually want to be.

Let Go to Grasp

To get what you’ve never had, you have to do what you’ve never done.

Letting go of our old habits – ways of thinking, patterns of behavior – allows us the opportunity to take hold of new habits, new ways of thinking, and new patterns of behavior.

It’s as if you have two tightly clenched fist hanging on to what you know. Yet, you won’t open you hands to release whatever you’re hanging on to.

You must let go of what you know in order to grasp what you don’t.

Out of our fear, insecurity, or intimidation, some of us will simply double down on our old habits – trying harder to do the same things expecting different results. We squeeze our hands tighter.

Again, opening your hand releases what it’s currently holding so you can grasp what it’s not (reminder, that’s not more Cheetos).

Dig Deeper

For me, my most meaningful training (we’ll call it that) had significant impact in 2003 when I experienced a complete meltdown of self – the product of being a workaholic, coping with stress through porn and alcohol addiction. This led to promiscuity, and eventually, a divorce and the loss of my business.

One of my main takeaways was this:

Bad thinking always produces bad living.

I could have asked for help; I could have worked fewer hours; and I should have realized that relationships always trump mission. But I couldn’t see through the clouds of my chaos.

It took me three years of counseling, attending motivational events, and reading tons of books to finally work through my junk. Even then, it was several years after that to walk it all out. It was painful, intentional, and necessary.

And though it caused me to become the person I am today – I would rather you learn from the lessons of my pain than endure them yourself. Or if I’m too late, know that you’re not alone.

Even the healthiest of plants must be pruned.

This is your opportunity to grow stronger, dig deeper, and flourish more abundantly.

Take action

Growth takes time. The longer you procrastinate, the more time it’s going to take to work through your stuff, to grow and move ahead.

You can take one step today… even a small one.

  • Read a book to grow personally
  • Try that new app to get organized
  • Help others, volunteer, or give
  • Join that yoga retreat, meditation class, or health club
  • Take a personal assessment test and learn about yourself
  • Hire a coach
  • Address and break that bad habit
  • Try that small group you’ve wondered about
  • Enroll in that online class you want to learn
  • Set up an appointment with a counselor or therapist
  • Buy that website domain
  • Get an accountability partner to encourage your progress
  • Freshen up that resume, polish the LinkedIn, and seek that new job
  • Be home for dinner

Do something.

Make one small act towards moving you forward.

How will you decide to grow today?

What will you choose to do… NOW?


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Angus Nelson is the Up In Your Business podcast host, Innovation Consultant, Business Coach, Speaker, Writer and Pure Matter Contributor.