I was doing these hot/cold plunges because, apparently, they’re healthy for circulation and they’re energizing. My unexpected discovery is that the secret to getting into the cold tub is the same secret that helps successful people get hard stuff done.
We tend to think that getting traction on our most important work requires that we be skilled and proficient at that work — but that’s not quite right. The real thing we need to be skilled and proficient in is moving through the moment before the work
That first time, I was only able to stay in the cold for five seconds before leaping out, shivering, dashing back to the hot springs. By the end of the week though, I plunged without hesitation and relaxed in the cold for over five minutes, feeling cool and refreshed, without shivering at all.
The hard part is the transition.
Identify something important to you that you want to move ahead with but have had a hard time getting traction on. Identify the transition point to working on it. Examples of transition points are: Pick up the phone and dial (for a conversation); sit in a chair and write the first word (for any kind of writing); ask a question and then stop talking (for receiving feedback). Make the decision — set a time and place where you will get started (transition). Prime your emotional courage. Starting something hard will bring up feelings of discomfort and you will need to be prepared to feel things — what I call emotional courage — to move through it without stopping. Are you willing to stay in that feeling long enough to get to the other side? That’s a critical skill — and it is a developable skill — for getting traction on anything. Some of the things you may feel in the transition: discomfort, fear (will this ever end?), sabotage (I should probably check email), and insecurity (I can’t do this). Follow through without questioning. You can’t control the noise your thinking makes, but you can keep moving through it to do what you need to do. Repeat this every day.
The most productive people I know move right through these moments, wasting little time and getting to their most important work and conversations quickly, without hesitation.
Our minds and bodies have an incredible capacity to adapt to just about anything. The hard part is rarely being in the new normal, it’s adjusting to the new normal. The hard part is the transition.
willpower in a moment is much more reliable than willpower over long stretches of time.
But, really, they’re all one big psychological challenge. It’s often not more complicated — that’s just the story your mind tells you to encourage procrastination. The principle — and the solution — is the same: Get good at moving from comfort to discomfort.
. Some of the things you may feel in the transition: discomfort, fear (will this ever end?), sabotage (I should probably check email), and insecurity (I can’t do this).
And if you feel hesitation, notice what you’re thinking — where your mind goes (I don’t have time, this is dumb, one minute won’t help, etc.). Even as your mind continues to come up with excuses, keep moving. Take the plunge.
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