Life and Pain: Embrace It, Own It and Reach Your Goals

A U.S. Marine learns the meaning of "no pain, no gain."
A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa is sprayed with Oleoresin Capsicum during a non-lethal training event at Morón Air Base, Spain, Dec. 14, 2018. (Sgt. Katelyn Hunter/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

"The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret."

The above statement was derived from Jim Rohn's popular quote:

"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.”

This quote says it all. Life is painful and never easy, and no matter what your situation, you will feel pain of some sort in your life. It is an inevitable reality. This universal pain can be the pain of regret of something you did or failed to do, or the pain of discipline when you withstand common desires that wreck your progress toward any of life's goals. Pain also can happen to you emotionally if someone you love is in pain or leaves us unexpectedly.

Since pain is a part of all of our lives, what are the best ways to deal with it, become stronger from it or decrease its effects on you? One way is not to neglect today for any reason, and you will avoid the pain of regret.

Pain of habits and discipline: Use Rohn's quote to help remind you that eating that cookie will add 100 calories to your diet, and that will require an extra 20-minute walk to metabolize. Having the discipline to skip the cookie starts off with building a habit that is painful at first. But soon, the habit forms through your disciplined persistence, and your pain will decrease to a point that it is insignificant.

Another quote along the lines of the above is: "Pain is temporary; quitting is forever." Some may remember it as "Pain is temporary; pride is forever." Championship teams and athletes have used these religiously as they prepare their minds and bodies for exceptional performance.

Long, hard days preparing for competition or challenging selection programs has to be the norm in order to see success. Enduring pain and making yourself a harder, stronger and more resilient competitor is the end result.

No pain, no gain: If you remember, the phrase "No pain, no gain" was popular during the 1980s as fitness was starting to become mainstream (not just for athletes). This quote typically was used in the weight room or during hard cardio workouts or races. However, it has since received a negative connotation as "work smarter, not harder" was developed.

Pain in training can be associated with injury, but if applied properly, enduring pain and discomfort is the magic ingredient to success. Waking up at 5 a.m. to train can be painful, as sometimes the body hurts from previous physical efforts or lack of sleep.

If you stay in bed and sleep an hour longer, you will skip on the discomfort of waking up tired, but the pain of skipping that workout will eat at you all day. If it doesn't, then perhaps you are not taking a fitness goal seriously enough, or you have a solid backup plan and you will get it done during lunch or after work. Just get it done.

Increased productivity and no regret: You may have created a nice habit for yourself. Maybe you do a workout first thing in the morning? But what happens when you skip that day -- either as a rest day or because you just slept in by accident?

If you are like me, my productivity level is decreased to a point that I may not get much of anything done until noon. However, if that workout is accomplished prior to work, my day starts before 8 a.m., and I can get two to three times more accomplished by noon. Waking up with physical activity sometimes is the key to jump-starting your day. Do not just rely on a big cup of caffeine.

Pain is not all bad: No one in their right mind wants to go through pain, but without it, you never would grow. You have to endure it, learn from it, become stronger from it and, most of all, do not fear it. The fear of pain is much worse than the pain itself when you are reaching for a dream or goal. There is no pain when you are focused on the goal.

The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow. Now go bust it.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

Want to Learn More About Military Life?

Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, has you covered. Subscribe to to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Show Full Article