I recently read an article in the Huffington Post with a fresh perspective on ambition and achievement entitled “The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today”, and I would like to share its main premise with you in today’s blog.

The article claims that it is easy for anyone to want things. It is easy to want to be successful, it is easy to want lots of money, it is easy to want to achieve something great, and it is easy to want to be the best athlete. Everybody wants these things.

We often ask people the question, what do you want in life? And they tend to easily answer some of the things we just mentioned. It really is easy to answer that isn’t it? Instead, the writer stipulates that the question that each of us should ask ourselves is, what pain do you want in life? What pain are you willing to go through to achieve the things you want? Because it is easy to want things, but it is not easy to be willing to go through the pain associated with achieving them.

I find this concept to be very true when it comes to sports. Everybody that is passionate about sports wants to be great at what they do, they may even want it bad enough, but are they willing to go through all the pain and hardship associated with becoming great?

As we have seen on this blog until now, performance in sports doesn’t come easy, and we need to really decide how much we are willing to suffer to achieve the desired performance. If you want to swim at the Olympics, are you ready to be in the pool everyday for 3-4 hours doing laps and trying to improve your technique and lap timings? Or would you rather hang out with your friends and perhaps watch swimming competitions on TV? You’d still be passionate about swimming; but you are just not willing to go through the pain that is necessary to be competitive.

This idea is not the same as saying that we need to work hard to achieve things in life (that’s a fact), it is an entirely different perspective on how we choose our battles. When we claim we want something, we need to ask ourselves, which battles are we willing to fight? Which struggles are we willing to endure? And which sacrifices are we willing to make? And only then will we know if we are equipped to achieve something we allegedly want.

So the most important question you ask yourself today is not ‘what do I want to achieve?’, but rather, ‘which pain and struggle am I willing to endure’? And the answer to that question will define what you will actually achieve. If you want to be fit and have a six pack, you need to first submit to the idea that you will go through the pain of exercising 4 or 5 times a week, otherwise you are just hoping to be fit. After all, that is exactly the difference between action and wishful thinking!

More: When dread leads to a favorite

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