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KEY 038: Why The Struggle is So Damn Good For You

The science behind the benefits of Struggle

For most people, the struggle is something you endure until you reach your goals.

We all hope that once we get where we want to be in life, the struggle will end.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but that's not going to happen.

Struggle is with us for our lifetime, but for good reason, it's what prepares to achieve our ultimate potential.

The Magic of Something Called Chunking

Your brain does something amazing when you're in the middle of a struggle. As you're straining and stretching to try to figure things out, your subconscious mind is looking for patterns in what you're trying, linking patterns to progress. The amazing thing is that it's doing this through something called "chunking."

Chunking information is when your brain takes a very large complex situation and set of circumstances and breaks it into smaller groups in order to better absorb and process what's happening. Your brain will actually take all of the information presented to it and chunk it in different ways, looking for patterns that link to success. Even if it's a small success, when your brain chunks information together from different angles, it programs your subconscious to achieve the success you struggled to gain, without all the struggle.

Struggle is the First Step Towards A Flow State

When you try something and fail, your brain processes that "fail" and stores it noting even if you had a small success in the middle of the supposed failure. Your subconscious mind is aware of even the most minute detail in your effort and nothing what tiny details lead to tiny success. 

Sleep is one of the most productive parts of your day. Don't trade it in for more work.


As you repeatedly try attempt after attempt, whether you know it or not, tiny changes are happening and your brain is making note. It might be where you eyes are looking, or how your index finger is positioned. It might even be something as minute as your breath or your stance. All of that is noted by your subconscious mind. 

As your mind chunks this information so many levels, your teaching it how to achieve success. Once you've struggled for some time, you'll notice there are some things you're doing correctly without giving it much thought. In fact, something you're doing have changed and you didn't even notice it.

The First Mile Always Sucks - Press On!

If you've ever gone out for a run, you'll notice that the first mile is the toughest. In fact, it really sucks for a few miles until your brain has done all the chunking and analyzing and you begin to enter into a flow state. 

The first few miles you're thoughts are all in your prefrontal cortex as you're cognizant of your pace, the music in your ears, traffic, the tightness of your shoe laces, and every other detail with which you're presented. You're in your head and you're thinking about every single action that takes place. This is why it feels so difficult and labored. 

Once your brain has processed all that's happening and you've struggled to overcome the inertia of the couch, you'll suddenly "let go" of all the thought and you'll shift into a flow a state. You'll lose cognizant awareness of each step you're taking, each swing of your arms, the tern down one street, the step up onto the sidewalk, and every other action you take. You'll be in what we call "a flow state."

This flow state is truly a feeling of bliss. So many pleasurable neurochemicals are being released into your brain, you'll have the highest high anyone has ever had, even if it's only for 10 seconds. You'll love it and want more of it. But, your brain can't get to that state without going through struggle. It's essential, regardless of how many times you do it.

Some of Us Have Only Experienced the First Mile

Imagine if you went out to run and never overcame the struggle stage. You went out each day and just ran that first awkward and painful mile or two, never letting go and falling into a flow state. It would likely make you hate running. That's where some of us are with a lot of the things we're doing in life. 

As an entrepreneur, you may have never gotten past the struggle stage. You shifted to something new, your business dried up for some reason, or something else happened that stopped you before you were able to achieve a flow state. You've struggled and never reached the point where you've had enough struggle that your conscious brain can let go and allow your subconscious to take over.

When this perpetual struggle is the norm for us, we become fearful of opportunity. We see opportunity as nothing but hard work and we don't really want to do more of that. We've been in the struggle stage most of our life. We've never entered flow where our work becomes pleasurable. 

The Magic Ingredient Called Sleep

Maybe this has happened to you; you're learning to play an instrument or do something that requires a good deal of skill. You struggle in your practice and you even get frustrated because you're not getting any better. In fact, as your practice time increases it feels like you may be getting worse. That's when you give up for the day and head to bed.

After a restful night of sleep, you get up and try again. It's still difficult and you're still struggling, but then suddenly something clicks and you get it right. It feels so good to suddenly be able to do what you've been struggling to do since the day before. You can't really pinpoint anything you're doing differently, you're just able to do it. 

This is the power of sleep. When you sleep, your brain continues to process all of the data it's collected during the struggle through practice. More patterns are discovered and that information is combined and stored with other patterns noticed. When you wake up, your brain is able to access all that information and everything just "seems to click" for you. 

Without the proper amount of quality sleep, reaching into that deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, your brain goes into hyper mode with all the data. This is why science tells us, the very best thing you can do before a big exam is to get some sleep. In fact, they'll tell you that an extra hour of sleep is more beneficial than an extra hour of study. 

Get The Rest of the Details in the Podcast

Click play below and listen to this 34 minute podcast all about the power of the struggle and how it's vital for you to achieve a flow state and ultimately peak potential.

We talk about some examples that will help you learn to love the struggle. You'll see why the struggle is so important and you'll find you're no longer trying to avoid it or just get through it. You'll understand the benefits of struggle and you'll come to seek it out. 

Take a listen right now... and be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a future episode. 

Subscribe to the Key Podcast

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What is The Key?

The KEY to better relationships, improved finances, and achieving peak performance isn't somewhere "out there" in another book, seminar, or training program, it already exists within you. You don't have to go find it, you just have to unlock it... and that's what show you how to do on The Key Podcast.

Paul desmond adams

Personal development coach

purpose | goals | career | relationships | Wellness

Paul is a super high achiever trapped in a misfits body. He's dreamed of and worked towards the highest levels of success, but held back by disorganization, distraction, and procrastination. He's always known what to do but hasn't been able to do what he knows... and it wasn't his fault. 

John hawkins jr, M.S., L.M.H.C.


peak performance strategist

John is a licensed psychotherapist who has helped thousands of people deal with past trauma, addiction, and broken relationships. After years of helping people breakthrough their internal blocks to success, he now realizes most us KNOW what to do, we just don't DO what we know... and it's typically not our fault. 

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Don't Miss The Next Key

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