“Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.” – The Big Short (film)
There are a few definitions of “truth” that can be found, but for the purpose of this article, I’m referring to “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”
Truth is an interesting concept. The truth you see may differ from the truth I see, because we all see the world from a different lens. Your parents, your environment, your conditioning, and your beliefs—these factors influence how you interpret reality.
Think about when something happens in the world. CNN and FOX news will report drastically different “explanations” of what occurred. The truth is that only one event happened, but based on the factors previously mentioned, the story is perceived, and therefore, portrayed differently.
Now think about your own life. What hard questions have you not asked yourself? How are you hiding from the truth?
This is an uncomfortable question. Nobody likes to admit the answer(s).
Part of the reason we hate embracing the truth is because many of us have developed habits that have us living in our small, cozy comfort zones. Our brains are designed to keep us alive, and therefore are equipped with defense mechanisms that are designed to keep us safe.
However, because humans have evolved so rapidly, many of us view being rejected or having to endure temporary discomfort (like lifting weights or receiving criticism) like a caveman might have viewed being chased by a saber-tooth tiger—a threat to our lives.
A lot of people choose to hide from the truth, because the pain of changing bad habits and/or facing uncomfortable, personal realities is too much to bear.
Yet those who are committed to growth, those who are committed to living remarkable lives, those who are committed to becoming the best version of themselves, understand that the bare, unvarnished truth—however uncomfortable— is essential to setting you free and helping you blossom.
Here are three hard questions that can help you face the necessary truths to improve your life.
1.) How are you wasting your time?
People don’t want money—they want what money can provide (a.k.a the freedom to choose how one spends their time). If you honestly do not know how you waste your time, spend one week tracking your schedule and write down how many hours you spend sleeping, eating, working, hanging with friends, reading, watching TV, exercising, etc.
This will provide insight into where a majority of your time is spent. If you find that you’re spending 15 hours a week watching television, but you absolutely hate your job, what truth are you ignoring? (Hint:
(Hint: Maybe in those 15 hours of watching TV, you can instead be looking for other jobs, building a side hustle, investing in your self education (reading, taking courses), and figuring out ways to make a change.)
2.) What are you giving up on too early or easily?
In other words, how are you not being consistent? The New Year is fast approaching, and the sad truth is many people will fall through on their goals by early February. Research shows that it takes 66 days to build a habit.
The New Year is fast approaching, and the sad truth is many people will fall through on their goals by early February. Research shows that it takes 66 days to build a habit. Now that you know this (a scientific truth), the next time you strive toward a new goal or habit, do not throw the towel in until at the very minimum, you’ve tried for 66 days straight.
If after 66 days you “give up,” you can at least say to yourself you had the self-discipline to adhere to your “vows” for a decent period of time. But perhaps longer is needed… all depends on the goal and how badly you want to achieve it.
“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
People usually quit because they aren’t seeing results. A helpful way to maintain consistency and diligent practice is to reframe how you view your goal.
For example, if it’s losing weight, instead of looking at the scale everyday with frustration, focus on the runners’ high you feel after you exercise. Through shifting your mindset to embrace the process of your goal, you won’t be solely reliant on the product. The product (i.e., losing weight) is a byproduct of the process (consistently working out, sleeping well, eating healthy, etc.)
If there’s one important area in your life where you know you’ve been slacking off and desire to be better, focus on consistency.
3.) Where are you not suffering enough?
Everything involves an opportunity cost. If you want to be a successful lawyer, you will need to put in 70+ hour weeks for a long time. If you want to be jacked with six-pack abs, you will need to work out often and stick to a strict meal plan.
To be clear, by “suffering,” I’m not implying the intentional choice to drown in self-pity or overdramatize pain when it’s unnecessary.
What I am suggesting is that achievement of most successful outcomes are usually predicated on the “doers” suffering to some degree in one way or another and having to make sacrifices.
If you want to be the best comedian of all time, you will need to embrace the pain of having some jokes bomb and audiences boo you.
It’s simply an essential part of the path to being a great comedian. If you want to earn an extra $1,000 a month, you will need to spend the time and energy learning how to do so. It won’t be easy, but if you want it badly enough, the confusion and difficulty of learning what steps to take (and what suffering or sacrifices may be involved) will be worth it.
When I wrote my book, I would get up at 6 am every morning and write for 4 hours. I did this for 3 months.
Was it always fun? No.
Were there mornings I didn’t know what the hell to write? Yes.
Did it suck sometimes? Yes.
But that is the unpleasant part of writing a book. I was willing to suffer through the difficult, frustrating times because the greater incentive of publishing a book, telling my story and getting out my message far outweighed the temporary discomforts.
What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to achieve something that means a great deal to you?
“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
– Muhammad Ali
Ask yourself the questions that most people shy away from. Have the audacity to look for the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. Your willingness to face uncomfortable truths will determine your ability to embrace discomfort, and therefore improve your life.
  John M. Grohol, Need to Form a New Habit? 66 Days (Psych Central: 2009), http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/10/07/need-to-form-a-new-habit-66-days/