This summer I had a goal: I wanted to be able to hold a plank (without breaking) for ten minutes. It seemed like a pretty far off goal, but one that I knew was possible. I knew with a lot of time, patience, and slowly working up the strength, I would be able to do it. What I didn’t expect was for the long process of building up endurance to translate to my ability to face hardships and challenge in life. It was one of those experiences which I could go back to whenever I had a difficult challenge in life, and think “well, if I know I can handle hard things. I’ve done it before.”
I started kinda slow. I knew I could already hold a two minute plank pretty well, so I added one minute or thirty seconds each week to slowly build up my strength and endurance. I would try and plank almost every day, and then have one day a week to do a longer plank. Kind of like marathon training, where you do one long run each week and continuously increase the time.
Something that I learned in this process, planking never seemed to get easier. I definitely built up a lot of new strength, and got better at planking, but every time I was holding those long planks, my body would start shaking at three or four minutes. Which meant, my whole body was basically in earth-quake mode for a solid five or more minutes. It was tough. The moment would suck a lot. But then it would be over. I would come down and my body would stop trembling, and life would go on.
I learned that the only way I could get through those longer planks was by just breathing and recognizing “this is the situation.” I can’t get all worked up, because I know at the whatever minute mark, I could come down. It would be over. The pain would be gone.
It was one of those times where things felt really difficult, maybe even impossible, in the moment, but I knew it would end. And just one minute after stopping, I would feel totally fine and be able to go about my day. I just had to endure the time I was planking.
I related this planking discomfort a lot to life. We have rough patches. Discomfort. Challenge. Yet, the challenge will pass. The end will come. The light will shine. The lesson will be learned.
The only way to get there, is to keep going. Along the way, breath and recognize your own personal strength. I am firm believer that you are given or put in the situations because you can handle them. You are given those really difficult, uncomfortable moments because you are strong enough to endure such.
You can fight and complain and resist the uncomfortable, or the difficult, but that won’t make things easier. You could quit at the three minute mark, but then you would never work up to ten minutes. As much as you want ten minute planks to feel like nothing, it won’t. It’s still a ten minute plank, which is really freaking hard. All you can do is breath and trust that you are strong enough to get there. Find a way to enjoy the process, and let the miracles start to happen.
I knew how much I enjoy facing and accomplishing challenge, and it felt so good to be able to reach that mini-milestone. It also felt really good to challenge and grow in my own strength. There is something really empowering about doing really hard things.
So it is with life. Hard things come. All the time. One of my roommates told me the other day (as we were summiting a mountain) “LIFE is discomfort.” And so it is. At least a good majority of the time. Especially if you are looking to grow and change and experience new and cool things, or dive into deeper relationships, or overcome negative thought and behavior patterns.You’re going to face challenge. You’re going to be uncomfortable. It’s tough.
There’s going to be challenges that we can shy or back away from. We have to face them. They won’t go away or get any easier. You just have to breathe and trust that there is an end, and that you are strong enough to reach it. Because, you are. Why else would you be here?
What helps you to overcome challenge? I’d love to hear!