Fight the Quitter-Instinct

What do you do when you think you should rest?

I’ve used to always rest right that day.

If I felt a little dizzy, I gave myself permission to stop working on projects or to stop working out and rested for a day. Normally, on the following day I felt fine and I applauded myself for taking a rest so early and thus avoiding to fall ill or risking injury.

The Quitter-Instinct

This changed after I listened to Jocko Willink’s “Quitter Instinct”-Video on YouTube. His main point is this: if you quit, quit for a proper reason, not out of instinct or because whatever you do is uncomfortable.

I’ve tried this a while back during my 100 days of consecutive workouts and very recently, when I caught a cold.

Before I went running a while back, I used to start walking fairly soon. I didn’t want to overextend myself. I didn’t want to risk injury. When I felt like I didn’t want to give 100% anymore, I took it easy.

When I started to get after it I made a conscious effort to override this feeling but to keep continuously evaluating if I truly hit my limits or if I just wanted to quit because stretching myself further felt uncomfortable. I realized I didn’t know the difference between feeling uncomfortable but able to endure that feeling and truly reaching my limits. I had quit too early too often to get a feeling for when I hit my true  limits.

The same was true when I felt sick. My mum always treated me nicely: when I felt sick I was allowed to stay home. I took advantage of that occasionally and more often than not simply stayed home just feeling like I maybe could get sick, instead of actually needing the rest.

Taking a break is the one thing I put off until tomorrow.

Jocko Willink, “Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual”

Illness as an Excuse

Jordan Peterson hammered this point home from a psychological perspective in a video with Lewis Homes which resonated strongly with me. Telling the story of the struggles that his daughter faced in having multiple really severe injuries and illnesses he told her one day: “Do not use your illness as an excuse. As soon as you do that, you can’t tell the difference between the illness and your character. So don’t let it turn you into a victim, even though it’s obviously a catastrophe.”

I’ve used my illnesses as excuses. I’ve also used being uncomfortable as an excuse to not push myself a bit further. I’ve used those excuses to stay comfortable and to avoid the pain of growth.

While I still fall for them every now and then I try not to anymore.

Because you know what?

Most of the time those excuses are just weakness, especially if you’ve acted upon them often enough. You can lose the ability to differentiate between your comfort zone and your actual limits.

“Don’t give in to the immediate gratification that is whispering in your ear.

JOCKO WILLINK, “DISCIPLINE EQUALS FREEDOM: FIELD MANUAL”

Tomorrow, not Today

Now, when my first instinct is to quit or when I think I caught a cold, I don’t immediately take the day off. I have a simple rule of thumb, borrowed from Jocko Willink: “Don’t take today off, take tomorrow off.”

So, when I feel like I need rest and I’m not inflicted with severe pain, I postpone my rest for a day.

Low and behold, about 80% of the time when I wake up the next day I am ready to get after it. The feeling to rest was my weakness tingling in my ear.

Sometimes, I truly need rest. In that case I’ll make it my priority. I caught a cold a few days back and I pushed through it for two days. Then on the third day I felt really bad and I took the day off completely. I slept an ungodly amount and thus rested enough to get after it the next day.

So, if you’re not feeling it here’s the rule of thumb:

Don’t take today off. Wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile? Get after it.

Stay on the path.

2018’s Wisdom For Your Ears

In 2018 I’ve listened to an insane amount of podcast episodes.

Listening to podcasts almost replaced listening to music for me. I have a really small selection, but among them is the Jocko Podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, Jordan B. Petersons’s Podcast and The Ground Up Show.

If you also like podcasts and are increasingly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content available, here is a small curation of three podcast episodes I highly recommend.

1. Jocko Podcast #98
with Jordan B. Peterson

If you listen to one podcast episode this year, this is the one.

This episode provides a great introduction to psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, his views, ideas. It’s full of wisdom and knowledge to be absorbed while listening. I’ve found myself pausing and note-taking multiple times.

While you get your fair share on the importance of discipline and responsibility from the both of them – which is hardly surprising considering both wrote books about those topics – it doesn’t stop there. You’ll get an understanding of why having a goal in life is so important, to experience meaning and how to plan your future one step at a time. You’ll also get a glimpse of Peterson’s youth and all kinds of well told examples of courageous people. There’s also not a lot of politics in this one, which you may or may not like as much.

It’s by far the best episode I’ve listened to in 2018 and literally the last one I’ve listened to (finishing it as late as the 31.12.2018, ha!).

2. Jocko Podcast #60
The Rape of Nanking

This was by far the most horrifying and brutal podcast episode I’ve listened to in 2018. I had to pause a few times, because I just couldn’t keep on listening to the horrors committed between December of 1937 and early 1938 in Nanking. In this episode you’ll dive deeply into the terrible war crimes committed by Japanese soldiers during the second Japan-Chinese War in the late 1930s. At some points the brutality and plain evil seemed incomprehensible – and as a student of history specialized in researching the Third Reich and the Second World War, I’ve read and seen my fair share of evil.

So, why am I urging you to listen to this whole episode?

Because there is no way you’re not grateful for the comfort of your home, the warmth of your bed and the stability that we have in our western societies after being exposed to that darkness. Seeing the darkness, the evil and the suffering that is part of our history and is still going on in other parts of the world, makes the light that we can experience in our day-to-day pursuits shine a lot brighter. Exposing myself to Darkness on a regular basis has also killed complaining for me. It seems completely ridiculous after realizing how blessed we are in western societies.

If you find it repulsive to listen to such an episode, then there is all the more reason that you really should. I used to close my eyes to the details of evil, horror and darkness in the world. It used to be something that’s “out there” but it was never real for me. Listening to this episode and the one about the book “Machete Season” (About the Rwanda Genocide) really opened my eyes and allowed me to be grateful, for the simple things every day in my life: running water, a warm bed, a place to sleep, but also the big things like peace, prosperity and education.

Darkness reveals the light.

3. The Ground Up Show #73
T.K. Coleman

Probably not many of you have heard about “The Ground Up Show”. It’s a relatively new podcast from the documentary filmmaker Matt D’Avella who shot the documentary “Minimalism” from The Minimalists.

T.K. Coleman was on this episode of the podcast and it’s a relatively short episode filled with little nuggets of wisdom and actionable advice. While the general theme of the podcast is creating something from the ground up, they go a lot further in this one. They talk about how to go about creating something while still learning, documenting the process, content creation and purpose. How to find your purpose, how to sustain it and why tracking your progress is really useful with most things you want to achieve. If you’re a content creator, it’s a must watch but it’s also great for anyone that thinks about starting something new or simply wants to learn from this episode. Also, it’s a must-watch if you think about going to college in the US (they discuss the cons in great detail).

“Dreams don’t come true, decisions do” is a great title and it basically summarizes the advice given in this podcast. There’s something actionable in there for everyone, so you should definitely have a look.


Now it’s your turn! Which podcast episode (or podcast) do you recommend? I’m constantly looking for more podcasts that add value to my life and many others do, too!

My Journey I – Discipline

Introduction

Whenever you visit a blog like this, it’s easy to think that it has been a straightforward journey for me, to get to where I am now. The truth is, it wasn’t. What follows is a look at my discovery of personal development and what you can learn from it.

The Old Me

If you would have known me before I took this path, my passion for video games was the closest I got to the idea of personal development: I was drawn to the precision and reflexes of shooters, the complexity and speed of strategy games and the social aspects and coordination of games like World of Warcraft. As a result I spent a lot of time playing and streaming games to become a better gamer.

While this earned me some achievements in the virtual world, those didn’t transfer to the real world. I met my girlfriend at the time in 2014 and moved in with her in march 2017. She cheated on me one month later and unbeknownst to me, our breakup marked the beginning of my personal development journey.

How It All Began

On the day of the breakup I talked to a new friend of mine on Skype, and by pure chance, he mentioned a podcast by Jocko Willink. Having had nothing else to do that evening, I decided to check out his YouTube channel and after liking the first video and watching many more, something in my mind clicked. Previously I often wanted to change aspects of my life, but every time something prevented me from turning these wishes into actions. Through Jockos podcast I finally understood what held me back: Excuses!

I discovered that I was making excuses for many things I wanted to do, like exercising, eating healthy, losing weight and studying more. When I wanted to buy new running shoes, I found excuses about why I didn’t need to: I told myself that I was fit enough, that I didn’t need more endurance, that the shoes would cost too much money … the list was never ending. While I had bought into those excuses for years, I started to change. Buried under those excuses was the truth: I actually wanted to start running, exercising, eating healthy and more. I realized that even though I’ve told myself many times, that the way I had lived my life up until that moment was congruent with what I wanted – it wasn’t. I wanted more out of life, I expected more of myself, but was unable to live up to my own expectations.

The cause for this was simple: I believed most of my own excuses. Luckily shortly thereafter I watched another video from Jocko, carrying a message that connected with me: Whatever you want to do, there is one smallest step that you can take. So, take that step… and then… take another step… and another.. and another.

The Day I Took Action

A few days later, a thought crossed my mind: “Actually… what would be the first step to buy new running shoes?” Even though I recognized my old excuses to not even consider that thought, I had a simple answer: “To look up which shop sells running shoes.” After procrastinating for a bit I decided to look that up. This was the first step. One additional step led to another and through many more, each accompanied by several excuses, I bought running shoes and went running the very same day. I had stopped to believe my excuses.

Afterwards I thought to myself: “Damn! That was easier than I thought!” It was in that moment that I realized something important: “So, what held me back all this time? I bought all those excuses that I have told myself…” It made me curious about: “How many more excuses do I tell myself every day?” I thought about that and decided to challenge myself: I wanted to do a workout every single morning, go running every second day and pay close attention to my excuses. So, I downloaded a workout app and went to bed.

Waking up the next morning I recognized “them”. They tried to keep me in bed and tried to hold me back from doing what I wanted to do: Excuses trying to prevent me from working out. Even though it was a struggle, I didn’t let them. I got out of bed, opened the app and half asleep, not having exercised in over ten years, completed my first workout.

A New Realization

I had beaten my excuses and felt exhilarated. I had caught a glimpse of my potential and it began to reveal to me that maybe, just maybe, I could be able to do all the things I wanted to – One of which was to work out regularly. Behind all the excuses trying to prevent that like that I looked good enough, that I didn’t have the time and that I could injure myself, was a desire to actually work out. So I challenged myself to repeat working out the next morning.

100 days later I had never skipped a workout for a single day. Additionally, I had been running every second day for the same duration. No matter the time, the weather, the excuses or circumstances – sometimes working out as early as 4:30 AM and sometimes going for a run as late as 11:45 PM in the pouring rain. I had done what I considered myself incapable of doing. What had been a long time coming happened shortly thereafter: I got injured and was forced to take a break. But I had learned one important lesson: I had proof that I was able to push through my excuses, rationalizations and reasons for why I didn’t want to, couldn’t or didn’t need to pursue what I really wanted. This realization changed how I responded to challenges and slowly opened another door…

Read on and discover, how a book changed my life and helped me find purpose.