I’ve shared the concept of the Misogi Challenge in my past writing. For those who aren’t familiar, I picked up the Misogi Challenge concept from serial entrepreneur Jesse Itzler. To put the Misogi Challenge into simplest terms, you choose one thing you’re going to do this year that will impact you for the next 365 days – something that will stretch you, something challenging, and something where the odds of success are not in your favor. You take on something that will end up defining your year. 

I bounced around a bit, trying to figure out what my 2022 Misogi would be. Last year it was the launch of the Grit Meets Growth podcast. This year, I had lots of ideas, but nothing landed quite right… until Chris Cathers asked me to do the 75 Hard program with him. 

75 Hard includes five requirements that each need to be completed for 75 days in a row. The requirements include:

  • Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheating.
  • Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.
  • Drink one gallon of water every day.
  • Read ten pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
  • Take a progress picture every day.

Miss any one of these on any given day, and you have to start over at Day 1. 

As I was researching it, I found the program referred to as “The 75-Day Tactical Guide to Winning the War with Yourself” – and that’s actually the phrase that made me want to attempt this. I found myself wanting to go to war with myself. Specifically, there were certain parts of myself that I wanted to battle. 

Here’s what I mean by that… 

I recently turned 46 years old. Crossing from 45 into 46, I felt like I was moving into the second half of my life. If I live to be ninety years old, I have just begun the third quarter of the game. It was time to reassess some things and make some changes. 

Someone reading this right now is dying to remind me that I’m not guaranteed to make it to ninety. I get it… and that’s my point. Whether today is my last day or I have 45 years in front of me, I want to make the most of every minute I have left. I’m realistic about the fact that I could die in a car crash tomorrow, and I have no fear about where I’m going when I take my final breath. Until that moment comes, though, I want to live the fullest life possible. 

To take this a step further, I don’t just want to live the fullest life possible… I am going to, and 75 Hard is part of that for me.

As I turned 46, I realized I hadn’t done the work I needed to make living my fullest life a reality. I had spent my last 25 years working hard to build businesses (other peoples’ and now my own) and spending my days sitting in front of my computer. Rarely, if ever, did I make it to the gym. I would occasionally go out for a run or on long walks with my dog. If I did either of those, I’d pat myself on the back. Then, I’d fuel my body with chips and soda and late-night binge eating, especially when I was stressed from all the work. 

All of it led to my last physical. There’s nothing worse than waiting to hear your doctor tell it to you straight, which is what I had intentionally asked him for. Please, don’t hold back. He didn’t. My bad habits had caused me to gain weight, increased my blood pressure, and kicked up my cholesterol. Professionally I was killing it, but personally, I was destroying myself physically and mentally.

Something needed to change.

When Chris Cathers and I launched the Grit Meets Growth podcast, we began having conversations about fitness, forcing yourself to get uncomfortable, and doing hard things. Slowly I started to take my own wellbeing and self-care more seriously. It’s actually one of the things that made me go in for that physical. The conversations we were having on the podcast challenged me and caused me to draw a line in the sand. I would NEVER say anything on the podcast or tell anyone to do something that I wasn’t willing to do myself. 

I am not OK being a hypocrite. 

That line in the sand got me back into the gym. I started working out again and paying closer attention to my nutrition. I sat down one afternoon and created a picture for myself of the person I want to become. Then, I started doing the work to make that person a reality.

It’s been a battle. I’m busy leading OrangeBall, working on the podcast with Chris Cathers, and writing my blog, Depth Not Width. I’m a devoted husband and dad to two amazing teenagers. Family matters to me. Last but not least, I have deep connections with many guys, leading them and learning beside them as we explore our manhood and faith together. It all takes time and energy, and I had not been prioritizing my own wellbeing in the midst of that. I realized that my self-care mattered too. 

In fact, it mattered first. 

You can’t give away to others what you don’t already have. 

Coming to grips with that, I focused on taking care of myself. Making my self-care a priority was challenging. Some days I felt selfish as I was leaving for the gym. Other days I would look at my calendar, and there was just no time. (To be fair, there was always time, it was just a matter of priorities.) 

That’s what led me to 75 Hard. From the 75 Hard website, here’s how they explain the program. “75 Hard is a transformational mental toughness program. If you’re looking for a new fitness program or challenge, this is not it. This is a program that can change your life … starting from the inside.”

That’s what I was looking for. But, to be successful, I knew I would need to tap into my “why” and purpose. What would keep me going when things got challenging? 

The answer to that is the key to this whole experience. You need to understand your “why” – it’s what will drive you to stretch, get you through the hard days, and keep you engaged for two and a half months. Speaking of the hard days… When I began the challenge here in Minnesota, it was February. The first four days of the challenge, temps barely went above zero degrees Fahrenheit. It snowed two of the days, and two of the days came with wind and windchills. The outdoor workouts were uncomfortable. Leaning into my “why” kept me from quitting before I even really started. 

So what’s my “why?” As I said, I just rolled into the third quarter of my life. I want to be there for Cristina and the kids as long as possible and in the best shape possible – physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to see my kids go to college, walk my daughter down the aisle, and wrestle with my grandkids. I want to keep showing up professionally and building things. I want to keep building those connections with other guys, digging into our faith. I want to go on my church’s mission trip into the mountains of Nepal. I want to do all of those things feeling strong and healthy. 

And, to be honest, I want to see if I can complete 75 Hard to test my boundaries, see what’s possible, and take captive the lies I’ve been telling myself about who I am and what I’m capable of. 

That’s my “why” and this is the beginning of my 75 Hard journey…

Follow me here as I share some of the insights I pick up along the way. If you liked this, you’ll also get massive value out of the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. Find it here or on your favorite podcast platform! – John