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Learn How to do Hard Things

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

By: Jennifer Hefner


“Always go with the choice that scares you most,

because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”

~Caroline Myss~

Ok, if I am being honest, this is probably my favorite topic. I love “the hard”. I love what comes with “the hard”. And I can speculate as to where this comes from for me, I think it comes from my competitive nature from a very young age. I love the challenge of competition, the challenge of mastery. This doesn’t mean that I am masterful at everything or anything. But what it means is that I love challenges and “the hard”. I love the feeling after finishing “the hard”.

I get it- most people do not like to do hard things. I believe that this is something that starts at a young age. I am making a generalization here, as I have not researched this officially. But what I have observed after having children, coaching adolescents for over 15 years as well as working in the school system, working in health care and currently working in the college realm- those individuals who learn how to do hard things at a young age are more confident, have better coping skills, and are comfortable with getting uncomfortable. And what I mean by being “comfortable with getting uncomfortable” is that they focus on the goal instead of how uncomfortable or hard the process might be.

I believe we are all capable of doing hard things. This comes with training our minds, training ourselves to “get uncomfortable” and understanding that in the end we will be “ok”. Did you ever think when you were a tween or teen that you would just “die from embarrassment?” Oh, I can remember those days! I would never go back to the teenage years- EVER! Talk about hard things! Or when you first went out to attempt running a mile? The task may have seemed daunting but after that run, you probably felt your adrenaline pumping! You were probably on a “runner’s high” and so proud of what you accomplished. And right there is the key- what you accomplished.

When we “do hard things” our mindset begins to change. It doesn’t mean that certain tasks will get easier- no they will still be hard. But what happens is we start to have a belief in ourselves that we are capable, we are strong, we can accomplish and survive. Our confidence starts to grow, which means we will crave more “hard”.

I remember a couple of years ago my daughter called me from school and was all worked up. “You need to call the school and talk to the principal! It isn’t fair, I got after school detention for an assignment that the teacher changed when I wasn’t in the class to know it got changed.” That day will always stick out in my mind as the best teaching moment for my daughter. She was almost hysterical- she never got into trouble at school. I calmly told her we could talk when she got home that afternoon. What she was looking for in the moment was for mom to immediately call the school and get her out of detention. I asked her a couple of questions: Did she do the crime? (Even unintentionally, which yes it was completely unintentional) Was she going to fail the class? Was this going on her permanent record to possibly keep her from getting into college? (LOL!)

So, in my normal fashion, I told my daughter to “Do The Time”. Take the 3 days of after school detention, this wasn’t worth arguing about. The school and teacher had rules and standards. Was my daughter upset? A little, but ultimately, she was embarrassed because she didn’t want her track coaches to know why she was missing 3 practices after school. But, the funny thing was after the 1st day of detention she came home and said it was great! She got all of her homework done and didn’t have to stay up late. Her words exactly- “This might be a pretty good deal! I will get all my work done this week!” That moment still warms my heart because I didn’t bail her out, she had to do something hard, she saw the positive in it and learned that this one moment was not going to kill her! Her teacher and principal didn’t think any less of her, it was just a speck in time that we laugh about now.

I remember the 1st run I did after having my second baby. I had just had my 6-week post-partum appointment and the doctor said I could start running again. So I hurried home, laced up my shoes, and hit the pavement! I made it about 100 yards and started to laugh- my uterus and other organs literally felt like they were going to fall out of me! But- I kept going. I kept telling myself “Yes this is hard, yes, it is uncomfortable, but I have to start somewhere, and I can do it.” And that was my “somewhere”. That day I kept going. My neighbors probably thought I was crazy because I was talking out loud to myself the entire time. But what I learned was that my body was capable, each day would get easier if I just kept going. Before long I was back to running 3-5 miles a day and yes those days were sometimes hard, but hard was just a word.

Working with college athletes, I see them want instant results or some of them think that they are “entitled” to certain rewards without putting in “the hard”. I will say that this is because they didn’t have to work as hard previously. Now every one of their teammates is as good or better than them. And yes, somewhere along the way they have gotten by with just “getting by”. It takes some of them time to learn that they have to do hard things to reap the rewards. Some of them get it, some of them really struggle and play the blame game. But ultimately our goal as coaches is for them to learn how to do hard things, to learn how to master doing hard.

As you go about your health journey, remember, you are capable of doing hard things! Learn how to do hard things! The next time you are faced with a difficult task you will have confidence and the belief that you can do it. Whether it is going longer on your run or hike, adding more weight to a workout, meal prepping for the week, learning how to count calories or macros- remember, you can do hard things! So I encourage you to GO DO THE HARD!!!! Your mind and body will thank you!

~Jennifer Hefner, HH Mindset Coach

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