While it may not seem that way after all that is happening in 2020, at no time in history has it been easier to be alive. (If you don’t believe us, read these books.) Modern society is largely designed to make us feel comfortable and to make the tasks of life convenient and automated. In such a society, we are being conditioned – even trained – to avoid doing difficult things. Why do something difficult or uncomfortable when something more fun, less demanding, and more entertaining is waiting at your fingertips?
This may sound extreme, but the consequences of avoiding difficult tasks are already beginning to change the fabric of society. Young people are having less sex. (Yes, as unbelievable as it may seem, for many, having sex has now become too difficult compared to the alternatives.) Young men are working less, foregoing additional pay, to play video games. Chronic procrastination rates have grown by five times over the last 40 years. We avoid having difficult conversations with those we disagree with, polarizing society and alienating each other. What is the solution to the widespread decline in the ability to do hard things?
We were created with an internal resource designed to enable us to do hard things, to do things we don’t want to do. This internal reservoir of energy is called willpower – and we need to start building it back up… now.
The good news is that research is pretty clear that willpower can be built – like a muscle – through exercise. And even better, exercising your willpower in one area creates benefits in other widely different areas.
Explore Your Limits Challenge
To lean into this area myself and provide a roadmap for others to do the same, we’re launching the Explore Your Limits Challenge: 40 Days of Willpower Workouts. Here are the details:
- Explore Your Limits Challenge: Monday, August 24th through Friday, October 16th (Don’t worry if you’re just getting to this now! You can find a list of past workouts below.)
- Daily willpower workout Monday thru Friday
- Explore Your Limits Challenge Summit Event: On Saturday, October 17th, I will attempt to complete a 50-mile trek/hike/run through the mountainous terrain of Lassen Volcanic National Park in 12 hours or less (Note: Despite this Summit Event, as you’ll read more below, this isn’t about physical fitness, so you don’t need to be fit to join the Challenge.)
How to get involved:
Sign up to receive the willpower workout of the day in your email each morning. If you’d like to start with workout 1 and move through all 40, sign up here:
If you’d prefer to jump in where Matt is right now and then make up the other workouts on your own schedule, sign up here:
Other ways to get involved:
- Check back in on this blog each day
- Follow us on the social media platform of your choice and let us know how you do with the workout! Use #ExploreYourLimits and #WillpowerWorkout to keep us in the loop.
- Subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch daily posts of me tackling these workouts
Don’t worry if the Challenge has already started. Join any time and we’ll catch you up.
What this is not:
This is not another Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Crossfit WOD, Ultra-Marathon training regime. The primary difference is that those events focus on physical feats.
In contrast, the Explore Your Limits Challenge will test and stretch every dimension of your willpower: your mental endurance, your emotional strength, your ability to overcome boredom, to persevere when exhausted, discouraged, or uncomfortable. The 40 willpower workouts will exercise every part of your being.
And this challenge isn’t just for those who want to be more physically fit. This is for people who want to perform better and more efficiently at work and at home.
Businesses are built on the backs of hard and unmotivating work. Novelist Toni Morrison was right when she said, “All important things are hard.”
Doing hard things requires motivation and willpower– and not all tasks will be motivating. You need willpower to do the important work that drives your business, career, and life forward. Yet most people’s willpower levels are at an all-time low and getting worse.
This will be hard. That is the point. This will stretch you beyond what feels comfortable. In fact, it will likely stretch you beyond the limits you have unknowingly set for yourself, limits that are holding you back.
If you’re the type of person who wants to spend a little more time in the research before diving into something like this, don’t worry. Next week, we’ll be posting:
- Why willpower is critical to productivity & success
- A brief intro to the current state of research on willpower
- A simple framework for understanding how to work out your willpower
- Day 1: Overcoming Boring Tasks
- Day 2: Concentrating While Taxing Your Body
- Day 3: Overcoming Offense
- Day 4: Staying Productive When You’re Not Seeing Progress
- Day 5: Pushing Past Feeling Depleted
- Day 6: Focusing Amid Distractions
- Day 7: Cold Water Challenge
- Day 8: How to Do Your Least Motivating Task
- Day 9: Going Beyond Failure
- Day 10: Asking for and Giving Constructive Feedback
- Day 11: Beating the Power of Disgust
- Day 12: Resisting Bad Habits
- Day 13: Stretching Your Habit-Forming Muscles
- Day 14: Going Without Sleep
- Day 15: Dealing with Discouragement
- Day 16: Enduring the Physical Discomfort of Fasting
- Day 17: Overcoming Temptation
- Day 18: Ending Bad Habits
- Day 19: Doing Very Easy Tasks
- Day 20: Memorization Challenge
- Day 21-25: Increasing Focus Time