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I Want You To Struggle

Written by: Alec Jiggins, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

“Don’t worry, it’ll work out. It always does.” My Mum uses that phrase a lot. To me, it’s the proverbial ‘red rag to a bull’. Things don’t work out. We need to make choices, act, and work things out. We need to fail our way to success. If life was simple, we would all be living our best lives on Instagram. Our businesses would be generating the 6/7/8-figures that the social media ‘gurus’ would have us believe are possible just because we chose to invest in their programme.

I call BS on the idea that life should be easy, that we should be permanently happy. We were born to struggle. The survival of our species depended on it.


So, I want you to struggle and to experience pain and be satisfied with it. But I don’t want you to struggle with mediocrity. I want you to set goals so ambitious, so challenging, that they’re worthy of the struggle. I’ll let you choose whether you suffer or not. It’s optional.


Why satisfaction doesn’t last


We’re hardwired to want more for ourselves. Think of the last time you achieved something, or bought something, that you really wanted. How long did the satisfaction last? Hours, days, weeks?


Satisfaction is temporary because we get bored easily. Once you’re driven your new car or been in that new job for a few months, you’ll settle into the comfort zone where that goal (what you once desired and worked hard to achieve) is now normal for you. It’s become part of your routine. Boring.


Then we have humanity’s innate negativity bias, our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to linger on these situations. The first issue with your new job, or that dream car, and the honeymoon is over.


We’re living in the safest, healthiest, most well-educated time in history. But many of us feel dissatisfied and are looking for a way to deal with our inner struggles. Some of us choose to numb the feeling with shopping “If I have that new watch, I’ll be happy”; some drink too much or binge-watch the latest Netflix series; some become addicted to exercise and the latest health craze. The top 25 websites in the US pitch a variety of escapes from the struggle – shopping, gossip, social media, porn. Pick your poison. The result is the same. Your escape is temporary; you pressed “pause” on your struggle. It’s sat in Starbucks, having a skinny latte, waiting for you.


If our feeling of fulfillment was permanent, what would motivate us to seek more?


We are uncomfortable being along with our thoughts. A 2014 study asked participants to sit in a room and think for 15 minutes. The room was bare except for a small device that allowed the participants to give themselves a mild but painful electric shock. What would you do to silence the inner voice in such a space? Well, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to electrocute themselves – many did so multiple times.


Distinguishing dissatisfaction from despair and defeat


When I was a kid, I wanted a Mr Frosty – The Ice Crunchy Maker. It went on my Christmas list every year. I was a reasonably good kid. I got a new bicycle, a stereo system, a computer… but no Mr. Frosty. I was very grateful for every gift, but I couldn’t shake the desire for Mr Frosty. I started a weekend job when I was 12 and launched my first business, aged 13. With my savings, I bought Mr. Frosty. My satisfaction lasted a couple of weeks; I made some ice crunchies. But then I wanted something else.

Being dissatisfied isn’t defeat nor a reason to despair. It means you’re normal. Welcome to the human race.


If your goals are so ambitious, so challenging, then each step on the way will bring that fleeting sense of satisfaction. Celebrate, high-five yourself, pat your back, cheer your ass off, and then get back to the journey. High achievers push through the pain – just look at David Goggins. He ran a marathon with two broken legs. Embrace the discomfort, don’t try and distract yourself.


We tend to think of success as the “big” wins. It’s not. Success is whatever you choose it to be. Ironing my shirts is a success – I hate it, but I do it (I’m Army, so they’re pressed to perfection). Success isn’t binary. If your goal is to write a book, then sitting for an hour each day and writing is a success. Editing the first chapter was a success. The final success is getting it published. But each step along the way merits its own celebration.


So, here are five tips to keep you struggling with satisfaction:


1. Get clear on what you want. Create ambitious goals that are aligned with your core values and purpose. If you live your passion, you’ll be investing your time on things you decide are important. When you live according to your values, instead of trying to escape the struggle, you’ll embrace it. Here are four questions to consider:


a. If I was to be truly unstoppable, what would I want?

b. What else is important for me to be/have/do?

c. Where am I on the journey to these goals?

d. What do I need to do now and in the future to achieve these goals?


2. Prioritise your time. Build time into your calendar. Use whatever method works best for you. Read Atomic Habits and Eat That Frog.


3. Track your progress. Break your big, hairy, audacious goals into smaller, bitesize chunks. I use an Excel spreadsheet to track my progress. If you want a free copy, email me at coach@alecjiggins.com and I’ll send it to you.

As you struggle with remaining on track, its vital that you treat yourself with love and compassion. Remember, dissatisfaction does not equal defeat or despair. Understand the struggle is human, encourage yourself, and celebrate the wins – no matter how small. They’re a sign of progress.


4. Build accountability. Change is hard. You’ve spent your whole life building the beliefs and habits that have got you where you are today. You’ll need to develop new ones to achieve everything you’re capable of. My clients value the accountability that our sessions create.


5. Don’t electrocute yourself. Create time and space every day to listen to the inner voice. It’s uncomfortable at the beginning because you’re used to distracting yourself. As you spend time listening, you’ll discover your true heart’s desires (and fears) and be able to act on those. Take the time to get to know yourself and you’ll experience the deepest satisfaction with inner and outer success.


Connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and visit my website.


 

Alec Jiggins, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Alec Jiggins is an award-winning executive and leadership coach, a global associate with Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Coaching and the Global Coach Group. Alec's mission is to change the world, one leader at a time. His motto is "Love, Live, Lead" and he works with executives on leading authentically, confidently, from the heart. Alec has lived and worked in 7 countries and three continents in a range of industries and roles, taking one startup to $6 million in turnover and breakeven within 18 months.

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