This article is a consequence of The everyday warrior series, a recurring column by retired Navy SEAL and best-selling author Mike Sarraille, with advice, important interviews and tips for a life full of impact, growth and continuous learning.
While we all strive to live a life of purpose and fulfillment, circumstances can often destroy that noble pursuit. When times get tough it is easy to lose focus and forget the greater purpose. It is in these moments that you need to remember: life should not be seen as something you gain, but something you try to live well.
This concept-The everyday warrior’s mindset—is a practical, indispensable mentality that will help you overcome life’s challenges and become healthier, more knowledgeable and resilient, both physically and mentally. It’s about living a full life no matter where you start or where you are, focusing on what you can control, ignoring what you can’t, and making a positive impact on those around you.
When you master some of the following mindsets and guiding principles, you will be on your way to a good life immediately.
Get in the habit of feeling uncomfortable: These are often the first words you hear from special operations instructors on the first day of training. You are not trying to scare the students, but rather to prepare them to adopt the mindset they need not only through education, but most importantly through life. There’s no way to gloss it over: life is tough, so smile!
Every morning I wake up, immediately sit on the edge of the bed and say the words: It’s going to be harder today, but that’s why I’m here. Then I do a 10-minute morning routine and race into my personal garage gym, “The Small Minds Repair Shop,” to do a challenging workout and get my bearings for the day.
Nothing worth achieving is easy, yet so many people seek the easy way. Today’s advertising and marketing bombard us with shortcuts or hacks to easily reach our goals (“take this pill and lose 25 pounds” or “make seven figure in three months with your own eCommerce website”). These are the lies of marketers trying to play out your emotions. I assure you, there are no abbreviations.
It’s the pain and discomfort that makes achieving difficult goals so damn rewarding while also building positive habits. True growth and learning occurs when we are pushed beyond our perceived mental and physical limits. While pushing yourself will undoubtedly fail, you need to consider it a necessary part of the process. Nobody says you have to like it – honestly, you shouldn’t. Most people fear failure, but it can be your greatest mentor if you just learn to accept it. Remember, we learn more from our mistakes than from success.
On the other hand, if you choose to stay in your comfort zone, you have accepted complacency as a way of life – and complacency kills both on the battlefield and in life. But those who constantly find themselves in uncomfortable situations will evolve into everyday warriors who try to live a life with meaning and effect while at the same time achieving the things they set out to do.
One day ATTA time
There is no overnight success. The road to an impactful life is long, hard, and sometimes lonely. Every day is a struggle of its own, full of hardships and trials. Do not fixate on 60 days. Just add to life “ATTA time one day” stand up long– Deadline fulfillment and success.
Focus on claiming the day and getting what it takes to get there tomorrow. Unfortunately, not every day will be a home run – but that’s fine. As long as you learn and make the changes necessary to improve, you will grow. Do this daily and eventually, these little accomplishments will gradually bring you closer to your bigger goals. Stay in the now. The journey is more rewarding than the results.
The power of positive habits
After serving with some of the top performing leaders in the world, I have found that they all have one thing in common: the power of habits. As we set any desired outcomes or goals we want to achieve – be it finances, health, or relationships – we realize the true value of those efforts by establishing the power of positive habits, self-discipline, and ownership.
All successful people, whether in business or in war, went through a series of intense struggles to get their result. The journey will be long, it will be hard and, frankly, it will never end. If you quit or give up, you have accepted complacency and will stagnate. No matter how challenging your current circumstances or struggle, positive habits will ensure you keep going, especially during difficult times.
Take control of your life
In today’s society there is a dangerous trend of eligibility. When people don’t get what they think they deserve, point the finger and blame those who have more. If you hold others responsible for your deficits and your life situation, you have effectively placed yourself in the victim category.
Let me assure you, the only person responsible for both your success and your failures in life is yourself. Once you accept and understand this concept, you will take control of your life and adopt a more positive outlook . If I can do that, it is because I have prepared, planned, and self-disciplined to do what is necessary to achieve my desired result. If I have failed, I have no one to blame but myself.
Do not compare yourself to others
In the age of social media, depression and anxiety rise as people constantly compare themselves to others. Most social influencers, however, stage their content and only reveal what they want to see. Don’t let this facade fool you. Everyone experiences their own struggles and pains – not even millions of likes can isolate you from the reality of life.
Being an everyday warrior means embracing your journey and focusing on achieving the best version of yourself. While learning from other people is always valuable, never let anyone dictate you or downplay your dreams. Your goals are about you.
Fitness is a perfect example. People often look at fitness influencers and say, “I want my body to look like theirs.” But their genetics are different from yours, just like yours are different from mine. If your goal is fitness, set yourself a quantifiable, realistic goal;
At the end of the day, it’s your trip and nobody else’s. Start where you are, do what you can, and improve from there.
Self-discipline starts with accountability
Dr. John Norcross, clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, found that less than 10 percent of New Year’s resolutions are achieved. Sound familiar? How many times this year do we set goals like Lose 25 Pounds or Save $ 50,000? Unfortunately, most of these goals are doomed for two simple reasons. First, people don’t create a comprehensive plan with realistic milestones along the way. Second, they lack the self-discipline necessary to actually measure their progress and stay on track.
There is no quality more admirable or important than self-discipline. The ability to persevere and be accountable is the crucial difference between success and failure. Self-discipline is a skill that can be shaped and refined for a lifetime, but it takes responsibility, commitment, and discomfort to keep your promises.
The first step to accountability is to measure everything you do to achieve your goal. Everything can be measured – and what is measured is done. If you don’t know where to start, start by measuring everything, then identify which variables are really important and make it work, and refine your list over time.
Take time to rest and reflect on yourself
Make no mistake, periods of discomfort and hard work are followed by periods of calm and reflection. The human body can only take so much and I’ve seen this firsthand with Tier 1 specialists who have worked hard for 10 to 30 years and have been used in combat more than 10 times. If you don’t want to learn the tough lessons of fatigue and burnout, you need to find time to rest. Don’t let today’s social media influencers, who often lack empirical credibility, convince you that you have to work hard every day.
There is significant cost associated with high performance if left out of whack. While we must push ourselves to our physical and mental limits in order to grow, we cannot maintain this peak performance without strategic pauses to rest, reflect, study, and recalibrate. Taking a day or two off from the gym, or just sleeping in now and then, can be an invaluable boost to your mind, body, and spirit. Remember, it is better to keep a steady pace towards victory than to burn out after a sprint.
In addition to rest, everyone needs time to think. Another common denominator among high performing people I’ve worked with is that they are constantly writing and brutally criticizing themselves about their performance. The best special operations soldiers I knew had novels about their written reflections. They would acknowledge their strengths, but they would also focus on their weaknesses and identify the steps necessary to improve. It was her personal growth mechanism in all areas of her life.
We are all ‘WIPs’ –– works in progress –– until our death. No matter where you are, there is always room for improvement. And the second you lose focus or think you’ve got it all, you’re on a losing track.
In Part II, we’ll cover the three pillars that Everyday Warriors need to focus on: physical, mental, and spiritual fitness. All of these are necessary to maintain performance, achieve personal goals, and find balance in life.
Follow Mike’s Truth + Tribe podcast, an exploration of the journey of an everyday warrior on Apple podcast or Spotify.
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