There is far too much hype given to “the struggle.”
The mental and emotional struggle of starting a business and making it successful.
The physical struggle of overcoming an illness or serious injury.
The political, cultural, and economic struggles of our present time.
Sometimes, “the struggle” is a necessary part of achieving something great, developing greater self-awareness, or overcoming a challenge. American culture overvalues the struggle narrative in the same way it glorifies “the grind”.
Every sports movie ever made has an element of struggle in it. It’s the underdog that eventually wins the day or the basketball coach winning a championship with a team of misfits. We love the underdog story. It captures our minds and hearts because well, we can all relate to struggle in some way.
This narrative, however, doesn’t necessarily serve you when you’re trying to achieve a greater sense of physical wellbeing. There is a difference between “struggle” and “effort”.
Struggle implies that you push through, head down, no questions or complaints, unable to ask for help, and bound to the outcome.
Effort implies a level of ease even though the path is not easy. It requires curiosity. It’s main ingredient is to try your best and be willing to seek/ask for help, course correct, or try again. Real effort is unattached to the outcome but remains steadfast in the process in order to achieve a desirable outcome.
Effort involves other people (therapist, coach, friends, family), tolerance, and a willingness to fail. Struggle is ego-centric, driven by the self, and avoids mistakes.
Are You Driven by Effort or Struggle?
As a coach, I often hear statements related to someone’s quest for fitness or health that informs me if this person values effort or struggle.
The struggle narrative sounds like:
I just need to suck it up and push through it.
This is how I’ve always done it, so I’ll keep doing it.
I need to lose/fix/do [insert the desired outcome].
This is unacceptable. I need to get my shit together.
The effort narrative sounds more like:
The way I’ve been doing this isn’t working and I want to try something else.
I need help.
I want to learn how to improve or do this better.
What has worked before isn’t working. It’s time for another approach.
This is not my area of expertise. I’m going to find someone who is an expert.
The finish line between these two mindsets may look exactly the same. It’s the road leading there that looks and feels different.
Ditch the narrative that you must struggle to get where you want to be in order to make it worthwhile.
Embrace the fact that your best effort will get you to the same outcome, or better, without the loneliness, pain, or punishment that struggle requires.
There is no special reward for struggle, and you don’t have to struggle in order to get where you want to go. Effort will get you to the best possible outcome, too. Choose wisely.
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