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Years ago, I saw an interview with someone who was or had been in Special Forces in the military. He talked about how hard training was and that he got through training by telling himself he was just going to stay until lunch. After lunch, he would mentally commit to the next hour or two or to making it to dinner.

This completely changed my concept of such people and became a cornerstone for getting me through a lot of challenges in the last roughly decade.

People who do hard things aren't simply awesome at everything or blessed to come from the right family, have the right education etc. Some of them are getting through hard things by managing their emotions and psychology with some of the same tricks used by political prisoners being subjected to torture and trying to not break.




Great anecdote. I try to apply this philosophy to endurance training like running (just get to the next mile marker), swimming (just do the next lap) or biking (just do another minute) but it's really hard. I'm awed by the special forces guys (or the author of the post) who apply that kind of thinking to long periods of time.

It does seem to me though that for creative thinking or solving really tough engineering problems that rest and laziness can actually be productive. So I don't know how to reconcile that with "training my grit muscle". It seems both are important.


Often while running, the hard periods are only transient and if you just handle the signals (pushing harder, or adjusting things down a bit) you end up reaching another period where things are alright again.

I need to get running again


I'm not so sure. After 10 marathons, the last 6 miles always suck. Maybe if I adjusted down to just walking...


Peak performance is a great book on finding that balance. Recommend


I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and every day for 6 months had to tell myself "Just one more peak" or "Just make it to the next shelter", and once I made it to that peak or shelter, would stop for water and a snack and then keep hiking, again telling myself "Just one more". Do that about a thousand times and before you know it, you're in Maine!


I don't know how to fool myself like that. Whenever I say to myself "just one more", there's a voice that tells me "cut the crap, it's a trick, after that there'll again be just one more, and just one more, and just one more". The problem is, that voice is actually right. If it's really just one more, what difference would it make if I stop already? And if it isn't just one more, then why obey a liar?


I have an incurable medical condition. I am not trying to trick myself into accomplishing some goal. Instead, I spend a lot of time trying to motivate myself to do the unpleasant things that work because not doing them leads to worse things.

For me, the value of the interview with the Special Forces guy was to help me stop feeling like a victim being picked on by life and singled out for torture. Getting well is very hard. It is supposed to be impossible. But other people doing hard things also find it torturous.

That plus the awareness of what conventional treatment leads to has gotten me through 5.7 years of homelessness, being crapped on incessantly on the internet by classist assholes who also think I am a lunatic fabricating my story, developing an online income with damn little help because of said classist assholes being unwilling to help me figure it out, etc.

I got off the street in September. I am applying for my dream job and made it past the first cut. Friday, I submitted the essay they want for the next step. I have enough money to get through the weekend. I am failing to do freelance writing and I slept 12 hours last night, so I am facing the possibility of eating at the local soup kitchen come Monday, a thing I have not done in 2.5 years and don't want to ever do again.

My week has been a huge headfuck and I am grumpy and aggravated, but staying the course and doing what makes sense because it makes sense, nevermind the swirl of emotions and headfuckery that life continues to throw at me.

So, if you look at the two paths ahead of you and one is "Put my blinders on and just focus on this next hill" and the other is "Go to hell, go straight to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200" it gets vastly easier to think "This hike will suck, but then I get a break and a snack and will feel okay for an hour and maybe the pouring rain will stop and the next leg of the journey will suck less."


Fair enough. When giving up sucks more—instantly—than pushing through, it's a whole different story. Thanks for sharing your perspective.


Rooting for you.


I hope your dream job opportunity is with an oufit where someone who can make every dollar count has an unfair advantage, and they realize it and recognize the added value your grit can contribute alongside those who are high-performers in other ways.

If I had a company in your area or one with a remote working aspect I would not have hesitated to get you on board over a week ago just to try you out by leveraging your abilities which I am very confident could lead to better returns compared to the average operator who has had a lifetime of financial stability.

So it probably doesn't make as much difference as you think what kind of business you want to seek mutual opportunity with. Every one actually needs more of this kind of ability.

The vast majority of other workers have never been very good at maximizing the use of resources or even more rarely making something out of nothing.

All businesses as well as nonprofits actually need a boost in this regard, too bad so many of them are more concerned with culture fit.

Therefore if this doesn't come through, be prepared to focus also on completely different kinds of dream employers where it's obvious you could contribute value.

When you need to come back from losing everything and bare necessities need to be brought back into sustainability, almost any legitimate job could be considered a dream.

Even ones where there isn't even an open position at the time, more so if you have already applied to an opening previously and only been turned down because the number of other applicants reduced your odds.

Take the initiative and show up ready for action, if you can get in the door treat every one you come in contact with like a top decision maker and concentrate on exuding the pure enthusiasm that only a dream job can spark. Make it undoubtable that you really really want to work for that particular outfit so much more than what they have seen before.

Make it clear that they won't be disappointed, and especially if you can get to final decision makers (counterintuitively this can be less difficult when there's no open position, so they are not being hammered by competitive applicants) make it personal and come right out and say "I will not let you down" because you really mean it.

If that doesn't prevail, get back and ask for a part-time job, I did this before and it worked so well an entry level position was created and within 6 months I ended up on overtime.

Real opportunities are always going to be hard to come by, build as much empathy with your ambition to move ahead together with prospective employers so that you can get at least two names from those you are rejected by. Ask them to informally give you alternatives or if really fortunate actual recommendations of who to try next. Eventually you'll have so many contacts you won't be able to call them all, and you'll be more able to prioritize and choose the best leads.

You've got the dream job concept underway, work it.


there's a quote by someone about the "small step after small step"

If the pace is right you can stretch pretty far.


Great achievements are the fleeting, momentary assembly of a vast number of small, seemingly insignificant steps.

Success comes not from seeking great achievements, but from the relentless pursuit of the next small step.

Of course, the difficulty here is knowing which small steps are worth doing. But I think everyone can come up with a list of small steps that would have at least some benefit, and then just pick one. Slowly, the small benefits will accumulate like a snowball. Each additional next step can then be taken with a bit more wisdom and understanding.

Alternative angle: in our lives there are vast areas of chaos and confusion, as well as domains of order and understanding. Each day we can work to increase the domain of order and understanding a small bit, and overtime it can grow to encompass an impressive size to the benefit of ourselves and many others. Looking back, one can be amazed at how far they have come without even realizing the extent of the journey.

For example, one of the easiest ways to get started is by cleaning one's room or some other mundane but useful task. At the very least, it makes things a bit nicer and feels good. Small wins beget other small wins.

These ideas have served me well so far.


I remember a video of a guy explaining that the blow that cracks a boulder relies on all the blows that didn't.

Also often the failure in your path come back later if the ideas were right but either unfinished or at the wrong time.


That's a great strategy.

I try to use a similar strategy of getting myself to train: I should go there and get dressed and if I still don't feel like it I can go skip and go home. So far I have only skipped it once, and that was after I trained for 20 min.

It's also perfectly applicable for when you should work on a project but it's hard to get started. Just force yourself the first 10-15min and then you can stop. It's almost always the case that you will continue after the initial struggle.




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