This week, I returned to running after a couple weeks away following the flu. Not surprisingly, I had lost some of the fitness I had gained over about six weeks of running almost every day.

That first run back, even though I took it slow, wasn’t the most fun experience. I was breathing harder, my legs felt heavy, and I just wanted it to be over.

Even pre-flu, however, when I was in pretty good shape, I still had those days where the first half mile or so was a real slog.

What I learned on those days is that sometimes getting through the initial discomfort is all you need.

Once I was able to push through the first few laps around my local park, I got into a bit of a rhythm that made everything about the run seem easier.

So, of course, that got me thinking about other areas of my life and professional work where I need to push through that initial discomfort.

Writing comes to mind immediately.

Some days, getting words down on the page is truly one. word. at. a. time.

But, as one of my favorite sayings goes, it’s the things that we do everyday that matter more than the things we do every once in a while.

Sure, every time I run or write it’s not going to be a perfect experience. But I’ve learned enough from building those habits that if I get my legs (or my creative muscles) warm enough, then the habit will take over and make things easier.

So, as I returned to running this week, these are some of the mental reminders that helped me work through the initial discomfort:

  • Starting again is always hard in the beginning.
  • I can do hard things.
  • It’s okay that this feels hard right now.
  • Hard work pays off in the end.

I also made sure to ease myself back into running slowly and carefully to avoid injury and to ensure that am I still enjoying the overall experience.

To be sure, pushing through something hard isn’t the same thing as forcing myself to do something I truly don’t like.

But, sometimes, building a strong habit means you need to just push through those tough parts to get through to the other (better) side.

To think on:

  • Where do you feel the most discomfort in your professional habits?
  • How do you push through in those moments of discomfort?