Discipline

2019-04-06

I think everyone discovers sometime in their twenties that life is a long series of intense challenges and it never gets any easier.

A couple years ago I decided to do pushups on a regular schedule. I kept it up for more than a year. Toward the end people I could impress strangers with how many I could do.

I’m not bragging; not only would I struggle to beat an infant in a pushups competition right now, but you could easily do it too. It was simple: I did three equal sets three times a week. I started by doing as many as I could. Next time I tried to do one more.

Simple, right?

If you’ve ever tried to work out, you already know the hard part. It never felt any easier. Every set felt like a huge push. Every time was just as hard as the first time. Every time I tried to talk myself out of it.

That’s a tough sell, isn’t it? It never gets less intense. At some point you’re proud that you’ve doubled your pushups, then you realize there are infinitely many higher numbers and get overwhelmed. There’s no end to it. It’s just pushups all the way down.

And that’s just a simple workout. We haven’t even started talking about all of the dishes you’ll ever have to wash.

It’s enough to cause a quarter life crisis.

That said, the rewards for getting it right can be tremendous. Every time you work out when you don’t want to, or wash the dishes even when you’re sick and angry, or find the courage to tell your boss you think they’re wrong, you’re working on your discipline.

Doing the right thing in the face of internal resistance is part of being an adult. They start teaching it in school, but you can’t learn it properly if you’re only doing the right thing so someone else won’t be mad.

It takes time to learn. So give the twentysomethings in your life a break. They’re working on it.