The term “embrace the suck” is often used by NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) in the military. The term would be used when an individual or a group must complete a task that is pointless, tiring, and/or lame. But guess what happens, over time these “pointless” tasks become habits, potentially lifesaving ones.
Whether in the military or not, we all have a seemingly endless set of pointless tasks to complete on a daily basis. Most of them are so mundane and mindless we don’t have to think much about them. This article isn’t dedicated to those mundane tasks.
To make positive, meaningful change in our lives we must embrace the suck. We must get “comfort” in the “uncomfort”. This seems overly obvious to say, but in order for us to make a change in our life, we have to do things differently than we have been.
- Do you want to lose weight? Then you have to change what you have been putting in your head-hole.
- Do you want to get fit? Then you have to get out and move more.
- Do you want to stop any other bad habit? Then you need to go the opposite way, and change your behavior.
Easy enough, right?
We can all muscle our way for a short time and force ourselves to change. The problem is that this only lasts for so long. You need to develop the correct mindset for that lasting change to solidify and become a habit. You need to embrace the suck first!
This Is Pointless
We often see the process of change as pointless and uncomfortable. Not at first though. Remember when you set that goal for yourself? You were all on fire to make that change or develop that new skill. But watch your motivation wain after a couple weeks. It’s easy to justify going back into your old habits. Because guess what, your old ways were easier! They also didn’t get you to where you wanted to go, which is why you wanted the change in the first place. Without the “embrace the suck” mindset though, its much easier to fade from your goals.
Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Try this to get you started, starting today, do something you don’t want to do. Start small, start easy. A super quick thing that you can easily do. While you are in the shower, turn the hot water all the way off and sit in the cold shower for a count of 10. Why? First, it is quite uncomfortable. Second, you don’t want to do it. Third, it is super easy to do. Check out “Instant Gratification”.
Cuddle Up With Failure
Losing must always be a possibility else growth will not happen.
Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.C. S. Lewis
A huge part of “embracing the suck” is understanding the bigger and loftier the goal, the higher the chance of failure. As a culture, the western world is very failure adverse. We see failure as the end of the path. Yet history is littered with stories of perseverance through failure. The one thing all those that succeed have is they were not afraid to fail.
Here are a few examples I see to prove my theory on the west being failure adverse:
Kids changing the rules of a game – during the game
You are bound to see a pickup football or basketball game if you have children. What is interesting is to watch the rules morph while the game is happening. Often from the losing team, you will get cries of it being unfair. Adjusting the boundaries or moving the goals etc. This is all in the name of being “fair”. I hate to break it to you buttercup, you special snowflakes out there, life isn’t fair. You either rise to the occasion or feel good about all the excuses.
Games on “God Mode”
If you’ve ever played a video game you probably know about cheat codes or cheating programs which allow you to play the game on “god mode.” When in god mode the enemies can’t hurt you, you have unlimited ammo, or some other completely unfair advantage. The biggest problem with god mode is that it gets incredibly boring very quick. There is no sense of accomplishment when you have no chance of failing. There is no bragging that you beat the game when a 2-year-old with a halfway decent attention span could complete it. Everyone I’ve seen play god mode gets bored and puts down the game for good.
Life with a huge safety net (social services)
Some safety nets in society are great things, but as with many good ideas, they can be taken too far. If you know that no matter how hard you worked at your job, you would have two grand deposited in your bank every week. Would you continue to go the extra mile and do extra work? What about if you knew that even if you got fired you’d still have that money? Where exactly is your incentive to work? Many social services work in this respect, and unfortunately, this deincentivizes people to go out there and take risks, work hard, and progress.
Make the Decision
Making the decision to change can be very difficult, but embracing the suck will make you stick to it for much longer.
Making a habit is about breaking from your normal routine – This will be uncomfortable
“It’s a short reminder that success can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have, and by the number of uncomfortable actions we are willing to take. The most fulfilled and effective people I know—world-famous creatives, billionaires, thought leaders, and more—look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.”Timothy Ferriss, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World
In order to change and grow, we must embrace the suck.
Over time you enjoy the challenge and push yourself further. Your mind and body will adapt and find comfort in the discomfort.
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