This is how to push yourself beyond your own boundaries.
What capacity do you actually have?
We have an idea of where our limits are – I can do so much work a week, before I hit a wall. I can go so long with out sleep before I hit a concierge. I can only do so many hours of study a night before my eyes start spinning out.
We have an idea of where our limits are, but they’re just that. Ideas.
You never know where your limits are unless you really test them – unless you are exploring your own boundaries.
To me it’s like holding your breath.
We have a sense of how long we can hold our breath, and we feel ourselves very quickly approaching our limit.
But there’s an interesting thing that happens when you let yourself move into your limits.
You actually find you get a second wind, and there’s a whole bunch of capacity lying beyond what you thought your limits actually were.
And then you pass out. There are definitely limits at some point.
But I actually think our bodies keep our reserve tanks hidden from us.
Think about it. Biologically, you don’t want an organism regularly bumping up against its hard limits. At some point, the organism is going to misjudge its jump, the hard-limit is breached, and the organism is cactus.
You don’t want that.
And so I think our biological software is designed to make us think our hard limits are about 80% of what they actually are, just to keep us on the safe side.
And I’m not just talking about holding our breath. I’m talking about every aspect of our lives.
We are hard-wired to underestimate our limits.
Now I’m not saying we should run our lives in the red-line and constantly max out our capacity.
I think running things about 70-80% is a comfortable pace to work with. It’s a sustainable pace.
(If you want to increase your output beyond that, try working smarter first.)
But that means we should be running things at about where we “think” our limits are. We should hear a voice in our head telling us that we’re at our limit. Things should be a little bit uncomfortable.
If you pull out before things get hard, before your lungs start burning at all, then you are leaving massive capacity just sitting on the table.
And maybe that’s ok.
But if you want to achieve radical things – which in this world means things like financial autonomy, income security, free time to spend with the family – then you need to use every resource available to you – including your own inner resources.
So test your limits. Regularly. Keep it on the edge.
Because the secret truth is, the edge is actually pretty comfortable.