I took up running as a way to deal with stress. It did not go well.

Hi friends,

During the pandemic, I took up running as a way to deal with stress. It did not go well.

Lumbering outside to go for a belly-bouncing run was not my idea of a good time. But I did manage to push myself out the door a few times a week, even though I couldn't run a full mile when I started.

A big part of me wanted to achieve so much! To run further faster. To feel athletic. To lose fat.

However, every time I hit a certain distance, my mind and body started to ache and wilt and “The Quit” in me got loud.

One day, and I absolutely do not credit myself with this, I was on a run and

I accidentally stumbled on something kind of incredible.

The run was the usual kind: I kept telling myself to push, go further, not give up. Get past that telephone pole. Reach that car. Overtake the pedestrian!

And, of course, there it was again: I hit the wall, and everything in me wanted to quit.

I don't know why, but I stopped trying to push and reach and motivate. Instead, I flipped the internal script, and just started saying, “Don't stop.”

That's it: “Don't stop.”

Over and over again. “Don't stop.”

And that's all I did, for the next 1.5 hours. I just…didn't stop.

I ran far more the miles that day than I ever had before. Big, out of shape, 80 lbs overweight.

It absolutely blew my mind, and totally changed my relationship with trying to achieve something difficult, when my mind and body want to quit.

It took me a while, but I've finally figured out why that was so effective.

It's because there's nothing to overcome.

Setting myself a goal, pushing myself forward, motivating myself: that requires tremendous energy.

But it requires almost no mental energy to simply keep doing what I'm already doing. After all, that's the way the body and brain work, right? Almost every one of the 35,000 decisions you and I make each day are habitual, non-considered actions that take virtually no thinking.

"Don't stop" has been so freeing. There's no cognitive energy expended. There's no motivation. There's no pushing. Just: don't stop.

So now, when my kids have kept me up all night, or I'm bored, or feeling down, or a task feels too difficult:

This is a tool I use to flip the script and salvage a situation with a lot of friction. Just: don't stop.

That's it.

(Combining this with other tools, like the ​Actions That Matter Template​, has worked well too.)

Let me know if you've found something delightfully simple and effective like this in your own life!

Have a wonderful week!


P.S. Thanks for all the encouraging notes about ​the upcoming course​ on going to college for free. If you know a parent or future student or friend going back to school who could benefit from some insight into getting a full ride scholarship, tell them they can ​subscribe to this newsletter​ to get access when it launches next year.

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✍️ Quote of the Week

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

Viktor Frankl, ​Man's Search for Meaning​

October 24, 2023