Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart and lower your body as if you were going to do a squat. Next reach forward with both hands, extend your legs all the way out and put yourself in the push up position. While you are in that position lower your chest and do a push up. Next pull your knees into your chest, rise back up and then jump up in the air. Congratulations, you have just completed an exercise known as a burpee. For the next 100 days do these 100 times a day until you reach 10,000. This is the 10,000-burpee challenge.
Now put on some running shorts and a moisture wick t-shirt. Grab your best running shoes and your favorite music and go for a run. Don’t just go for a run but go for a long run. Go for such a long run that it could take you 3-5 hours to finish. When you finally finish you will have travelled 138,435 feet, also known as 26.2 miles. Congratulations, you have just completed a challenge called known as a marathon.
The Reason To Do It
Both of those challenges are possible grueling physical challenges that only a select number of people complete in their lifetime. Why would someone put themselves through the pain of completing either of those challenges? Is it for the money? Unless you are a professional runner that is very unlikely. Is it for the fame? Once again this is very unlikely because the winners are the only ones who get all the fame. Is it for the weight loss? This is possible but there are much easier ways to shed some unwanted pounds.
The most likely reason anyone completes either of these challenges is because it is just that, a challenge. Sometimes those challenges are from outside sources like a friend or a community and other times it is just an internal challenge by the individual themselves. Regardless of the origin of the challenge the impact of completing the challenge is the same. Once all the soreness, muscle fatigue and injuries are all gone everyone who completes one of these challenges has the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment.
The Power of Challenge
However, the power is not just in the sense of accomplishment. That sense of accomplishment could easily fade away as time passes after completing the challenge. Having completed a marathon is a great physical accomplishment but the key is not to limit it to running. Having completed 10,000 burpees is also a great physical accomplishment and it too should not be limited to exercise. Both of those challenges took a tremendous mental effort.
The mental aspect of completing a challenge is the most important. This should be the reason anyone does any challenge. Let’s take the two examples above and explore them mentally.
In order to run a marathon, you must train your body to complete the event. Typical training is 13-15 weeks. That training includes many miles of running per week. Mentally you will have to find time in your current schedule to complete that running. Most will choose to run outside but there are others who choose to run on a treadmill. If you run outside you have to decide you will run regardless of the weather. That means runs in the rain, cold weather, hot weather, windy weather, you name it. Depending on your schedule you may have to fit in runs in the morning, afternoon or evening. You will also have to account for unscheduled events such as travel, work duties or family needs.
There will be times when you mentally want to skip your training. Yet if you are serious about completing the challenge you will find a way to fit it in. It will not be as much as a physical decision as it will be a mental decision. Your body can physically do much more then you think, including running 26.2 miles.
There are similar mental decisions you need to make to finish 100 days of 100 burpees. Depending on your fitness level this challenge may feel more physically difficult than training for the marathon. This is especially true in the beginning. You will be very sore from the previous day and you will need to push through that to finish the current day. Also, if for some reason you have to skip a day you will need to make up those burpees on another day, sometimes doing 200 per day to catch up.
The difference in this challenge is there will be not climatic event to attend at the end. You will just finish the 10,000 burpees. If you are like many you will be doing this alone in your garage or at the gym. You will have to mentally motivate yourself to keep going because you decided to take this challenge.
The mental toughness it will take to complete each challenge can easily be transferred to your new everyday life. When something comes up at work that is going to take a lot of effort and time you will be able to feel confident you can handle it. You can feel confident because you’ve run a marathon before. When something at home is going to take a lot of patience and determination you will be able to feel confident you can handle it because you’ve done 10,000 burpees before.
In 15 weeks you can decide to come up with your own challenge. You can decide to write a book in the next 15 weeks. If you write 1000 words a day you will have over 100,000 words in 15 weeks. Most books average about 60,000 words so you will have more than enough. If you are not proficient in public speaking you can take a 15-week course to improve your public speaking skills. In 15 weeks you will be a much better public speaker. If your relationship with your spouse is not where you want it to be you can take the next 15 weeks to focus on making it better regardless of work or family duties.
You can challenge yourself to do whatever you choose because you’ve completed difficult challenges in the past. You have the mental toughness and you’ve proved it in the past. The challenge can be physical but it doesn’t need to be at all. As you know your mental toughness is the number one reason you don’t finish something you started. Luckily, the more you finish challenges you start the more willing you will be to start new ones.
The Answer to Why
So, the next time someone asks, “Why would anyone run a marathon?” or “Why would anyone do 10,000 burpees?” you will know the answer. You can answer they did that for their future. Everyone will be challenged with something in their life. The more challenges you face and finish the more challenges you will be able to handle. With every challenge you build mental toughness. The more mentally strong you are the more successful you will be in life.
Life is going to challenge you. How prepared you are for that challenge depends on how mentally strong you are at the time. My advice to you is to challenge yourself often. Do things that may not mean much based on the final accomplishment but they mean wonders when it relates to mental toughness.
There’s a reason why Navy Seals, Army Rangers, professional athletes, and the likes all seem to have success in their second careers. They have been challenged many times and now they are mentally tough. The formula is there you just need to follow it. Come up with a challenge and finish it. You will be more prepared for the next challenge that life comes up with that you weren’t expecting.
As always, I wish you the best and remind you to enjoy the journey.