On the nightstand, my alarm clock begins to tremble. It’s calling out to me as loudly as it possibly can, and I’m not ready to respond. Maybe it’s because it’s 5 a.m. Monday, my least favorite hour and day of the week.
Maybe it’s because I know I need to get up so I don’t miss my 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class, or maybe it’s because I’ll hear it from my coach. Plus… For every minute I’m late, I’ll have to do five burpees, which I despise! Can you tell I’m barely a week into my CrossFit subscription and I’m already kicking myself for signing up?
Clearly, this is a challenging assignment that I am attempting to avoid, and failing miserably. I know, I know, we should push ourselves to do new things.
“It’s the difficult things that make you stronger!” As I try to hoist a weight above my head, my coach remarks that a pregnant woman next to me has no problems. I’d say the embarrassment encourages me to keep going, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.
I pause to ask myself as I set my bar down to eat some humble pie and glance around at all the jerks in class. “What makes you think I should quit avoiding difficult tasks?” And how am I going to accomplish it?”
That’s the question we’ll get deeper into, with solutions that have helped me with CrossFit and can help you with whatever you’re having trouble with within life.
Related: SELF DISCIPLINE AT A HIGH LEVEL
Why Should You Stop Avoiding Difficult Tasks?
Let’s be honest. We’re all human beings, and we like to feel comfortable. We appreciate all of the creature conveniences that have made life easier for us. We are always looking for a shortcut, whether we are driving to a new location or cooking a dish.
We want things to be faster, easier, better, and not challenging. By today’s standards, these things are nearly synonymous with the American ideal. This much-desired ambition used to be about guts and hard work, but now it’s about getting there first with the least amount of effort.
Despite this, it’s not always better to make things easy, and here’s why:
We teach our brains to be lazy when we take the easy way out. It no longer needs to utilize critical thinking or imagination to come up with a solution; all it needs to do now is look for the shortest route. Our brains’ neural networks are rewired in less-than-optimal ways as a result of this training.
We need to work our brains if we want them to be healthy, according to Dr. Daniel Amen, M.D., author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
“Your brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more you can use it. Every time you learn something new, your brain makes a new connection. Learning enhances blood flow and activity in the brain. If you go for long periods without learning something new, you start to lose some of the connections in the brain, and you begin to struggle more with memory and learning.”
Furthermore, a study from the University of California at Berkeley Anatomist Marian Diamond, Ph.D., found that rats who were given an easy existence with no new difficulties or learning had less brain weight than those who were pushed and had to learn new information in order to be fed.
Brain density and weight increased as a result of new learning, indicating a healthier overall brain. 
Before jumping to conclusions regarding the differences between human and rat brains, take a look at the following study:
“Despite the fact that the rat brain is smaller and less sophisticated than the human brain, research has revealed that their structure and function are strikingly comparable.
Both are made up of a large number of densely linked neurons that are constantly communicating with one another.”
The simple fact is that exercising our brain, like exercising most other aspects of our bodies, is simply better for us. The better you look after your brain, the better it will look after you.
According to Dr. Amen, there are seven ways to care for your brain.
- Treat Brain Problems Early – mental health problems such as anxiety and depression need to be dealt with as early as possible.
- Protect Your Brain – safeguard your brain from damage, pollution, lack of sleep, and stress.
- Feed Your Brain — Eat brain-boosting foods on a regular basis.
- Stay joyful, hopeful, and positive by killing the ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) that invade your mind.
- Continue to learn since learning is a brain workout.
- Make Love to Your Brain — frequent sexual activity stimulates oestrogen levels, which improves overall brain function and memory.
- Develop a “Concert State” for Your Brain – You will be able to concentrate more easily if you are calm, and listening to music is a great method to relax while enhancing your concentration.
Even if you follow only one of these suggestions, you will be less likely to avoid unpleasant activities. Remember that an optimal brain can only benefit your life, whether it’s completing difficult tasks or in a related area, so put these tips into practice immediately. You can learn more about each one by clicking on the links below.
Even if none of this so-called “brain talk” persuades you, consider the situation from the perspective of progress and confidence.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in learning something. You’re looking for knowledge in some way, whether it’s for pure curiosity, strict personal improvement, or somewhere in between.
The pursuit of knowledge is a quest for personal development. By definition, growth is the polar opposite of stagnation. As a result, everybody who is developing is undergoing change, according to this logic.
To truly experience change and growth, we must venture beyond our comfort zones into the realm of discomfort. All of the magic takes place here.
We accomplish the challenging chores that we don’t always want to undertake here. The more we undertake tough tasks, the easier and more manageable they become.
Becoming proficient at anything useful in life requires some effort and time.
Take a time to recall how you felt like a little child.
Did you just go on your bike and ride down the road when you first started to ride? No, I don’t think so. You probably had to try a few times before you got it right and started riding around the neighborhood. Did you give it a few tries before giving up because it was too difficult? No.
You kept going till you discovered out what was going on. You most likely did the same thing with any sport or hobby you liked. I’m sure you practiced until you got very excellent at a lot of them. This is a part of our human nature, and it’s written in our DNA.
As individuals and as a species, we have always done tough things. There are numerous examples throughout history of people completing tough tasks and choosing the difficult road. JFK’s famous NASA speech from 1962 epitomizes this mindset:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Meaning, to accomplish greatness, you must do difficult tasks. To achieve the things you never have, you have to do the things you have never done.
How to Stop Avoiding Difficult Tasks
What kind of person do you want to be?
If this question makes you feel uneasy, it’s possible that your goal to improve isn’t inherently motivated enough. In order to undertake the challenging jobs in the first place, you may need to create some confidence in your talents.
If you want to improve your confidence, you must first recognize the fear that is holding you back. Fear is frequently linked to the avoidance of a difficult task.
This could be a fear of getting started, a worry of not being able to accomplish the activity, or just a fear of not knowing enough about the task. Fear, invariably, leads to inaction, which leads to a loss of confidence.
According to Jen Gottlieb, Co-Founder and Chief Mindset Officer of Super Connector Media,
“Confidence comes from feeling the fear and doing it anyway consistently.…because every single time you do something difficult or scary, and still do it, you get to the other side. You then realize that you didn’t die, and nothing terrible happened, so you get a win and celebrate that win. With each win, you put another coin in the confidence bank and become a little bit more confident. If you do that consistently and trust yourself to be able to do those scary things, you’ll grow to where it will be less and less scary and become easy.”
Sounds like a recipe for success to me. The key is not to focus on the totality of the difficult task but only one small step at a time. This makes any task far more attainable. As the old saying goes, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
With this theory in mind, here are 3 tips to help you stop avoiding difficult tasks
- Break it down — Breaking the task down into smaller, more manageable chunks makes it appear easier while also allowing you to appreciate little victories.
- Limiting beliefs should be managed by focusing on what you can achieve and avoiding negative self-talk. You’ll have a better chance of sticking with it if you stay positive.
- Seek Help — When people hold us accountable, we have a two-thirds better probability of succeeding.
The good news is that there is hope for you and me when it comes to completing challenging tasks, whether it’s brain health, growth, or confidence.
I decided to remain with the challenging CrossFit class I had signed up for. That first week was nearly ten years ago, and I’m glad I didn’t quit up even if it was difficult at the time. For the past six years, I’ve been coaching others in CrossFit and have learned to perform a variety of tough feats.
When it comes to CrossFit, those accomplishments are near the top of my list. I’ll save first place for the fact that I’m now the one in charge of burpee penalties.
- Dana Foundation: Diamond in the Rough World of Neuroscience
2. Harvard Business Review: Rats Can Be Smarter Than People