On the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers, these are common themes. Show up, do the work, and get uncomfortable. Achieving success in anything, personally and professionally, is a combination of these three disciplines. You need to be present. You need to put in the effort. You need to make room for doing hard things. None of these are optional.

Simple, right? Just follow this easy three-step formula, and success will come. But what happens when you find yourself feeling tired, unmotivated, bored, or stuck in the mud? 

You can’t beat the “show up, work, and embrace the uncomfortable” drum without leaning into the fact that there are times when you won’t feel like doing these things… or want to. We’ve all been there. We have days where we’re energized and can feel our momentum building toward the success we want… and moments where we feel like our wheels are just spinning. 

I’m writing this from my car dealer’s waiting room sitting next to a brand new Jeep Wrangler. It is jacked up with beefy tires, massive bumpers, and a winch on the front. This thing looks like it is always motivated, ready for anything, and never gets stuck. I want to picture myself as this Jeep, but the reality is this…

You and I are not Jeep Wranglers. 

What keeps us from being Jeeps? What prevents us from living life highly motivated, ready for anything, and always unstuck? First, we allow ourselves to get too busy. Instead of prioritizing the most important things in our lives, we try to do everything and do it all at an elite level. The result? If we’re lucky, we’re good at a few things but never great at anything. In trying to do everything and be it all, we get exhausted, which eventually leads to getting stuck. 

Second, we lose sight of where we’re headed and why getting there matters. We set goals that are not vivid and specific, and often we do this without digging deep into the “why” and our purpose. Then, after we set those goals, we neglect them for weeks and months, because we get busy and distracted. We don’t keep them front and center, and other things are constantly battling for our attention. Allow this to happen too long, and we end up exhausted and grounded.

You’re nodding your head right now because you’ve been there. Or, you’re there right now.

You’re not alone.

So, in those instances where you lack the motivation and energy to show up, do the work, and live on the uncomfortable edge, here are three things you can double down on to regain some traction…

Double down on depth. You cannot be all things to all people. I want to be a super husband, amazing dad, compelling business leader, a community giver, the best friend anyone has ever had… I’m already exhausted just typing that. It’s tempting for us to try to balance all of this, but you end up becoming as wide as the ocean and as deep as a puddle. It just doesn’t work. It’s why I named my blog Depth Not Width. By getting laser-focused on what really matters and prioritizing our list while removing some things simultaneously, we can define some boundaries for where we’re showing up, putting energy into the work, and allowing ourselves to get uncomfortable.  

Double down on discipline. Achieving success usually includes a series of small habits and rituals that we repeat over and over again… even when we don’t want to. In simplest terms, when you don’t feel like showing up and doing the work, lean into being disciplined and do it anyway. I believe in this 100%. When I wake up and don’t feel like going to the gym, I’ve determined that NOT going isn’t an option. Likewise, when I’m working and feel like giving half-effort, I’ve determined that’s not an option either. In both cases, I choose to DO what I don’t want to because I value the results more than I want my own comfort. “I choose.” Those two words are key. Sometimes, though, our discipline needs a little nudge to get moving…

Double down on your purpose. Want an extra boost of energy and motivation when you lack both? Spend a minute thinking about what’s on the other side of the work and the uncomfortable moments. What’s your purpose? What are you really working for? Here’s an example… My purpose for staying fit is that I want to extend my time with family and friends and ensure that I’m doing everything I can to be healthy and strong 10, 20, and 30 years out if I’m blessed with that many years. Shifting gears, I could say that my purpose for working hard is to make money, but that’s not the real answer. Diving deeper, the money is just a tool. My real purpose is to create experiences for my family and fuel my ability to be generous. In both examples, when I focus more on my purpose and my “why” than I do on the uncomfortable side, I find the energy I need to show up and do the work it takes. 

Let’s acknowledge one last truth… Creating results in anything takes time. Too often, when we don’t see immediate results or experience instant wins, we get frustrated and quit. We want to go fast, crash through our barriers, and climb quickly over our challenges. That’s how a Jeep would do it, right? Not quite…

We took a Jeep trip a few years back and spent time exploring some back-country trails. It was the day after a solid rain. The trails were muddy and wet, and there were spots where we had to navigate fifty yards plus of water that was 3-4 feet deep. Not knowing what rocks or debris were under the water, we had to crawl through those areas carefully to prevent damage. Trying to go too fast would have led to damage, or worse, spinning our wheels and getting stuck. So instead, we intentionally let the tires grab at the mud and pull us through these areas slowly and effectively. 

Life’s a lot like this. Showing up, doing the work, and getting uncomfortable often require us to slow down and let off the gas a bit. We can’t rush the process, take shortcuts, or speed through things. Instead, the path to success requires us to be present, put in the effort, and leave comfort behind as we drive forward.

Just like that Jeep on those trails, it often means we get a little muddy in the process. Talk to any Jeep owner, and they’ll tell you that the muddier you get, the better. The mud is a badge of honor.

The Takeaway

Make room for the mud. Show up, do the work, and get uncomfortable.

Success is waiting on the other side.

Ready for more?

Follow me here for more insights like this one, weekly encouragement, and inspiration to help you get through the mud. You can also listen in on the Grit Meets Growth podcast here or on your favorite podcast platforms. Make it a great day! – John