10 Can’t Hurt Me Challenges From David Goggins

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What Can’t Hurt Me challenges does David Goggins propose to his readers? Could completing these challenges help you reach your own goals?

In his book Can’t Hurt Me, former Navy SEAL and ultra-racer David Goggins presents ten challenges to his readers. The goal of these challenges is to help you work efficiently towards your goals and overcome obstacles in your life.

Here are David Goggins’s ten challenges.

Challenge 1: Face Your Bad Hand

The first Can’t Hurt Me challenge is to face your circumstances. As you grow up, your life circumstances can affect your growth and development. Though it seems counterintuitive, acknowledging the difficult circumstances you’ve faced can be a good first step toward overcoming additional challenges—you can draw strength from your past successes.

Challenge 2: Set Up Your Accountability Mirror

You may struggle to take actionable steps to reach your goals. In this challenge, you’ll learn to break your goals into smaller steps and regularly work toward them to achieve success.

As a teen, Goggins continued to struggle with trauma, racism, school, and longing to join the Air Force. After receiving a particularly bad report card, he devised a way to make his goals more manageable: writing Post-it notes of goals on his mirror to hold himself accountable for reaching them. Goggins called this his “accountability mirror.”

Challenge 3: Get Used to Discomfort

Sometimes reaching your goals requires facing uncomfortable or difficult tasks. Learning how to do things you dislike helps you take steps toward your goals instead of staying in your comfort zone.

Goggins learned to face what made him uncomfortable during his service in the Air Force and the struggles afterward that motivated him to become a Navy SEAL.

Challenge 4: Best Your Opponent

When working toward your goals, it’s easy to sabotage your success by doubting yourself. For example, you might feel intimidated by your opponents—anyone who you think doubts your ability to succeed and makes you doubt yourself. This could be a boss, teacher, or coworker.

Instead, work to harness your feelings around that perceived doubt and use them to apply yourself and prove your opponent wrong. Goggins discusses how he developed this technique to survive Hell Week of SEAL training.

Challenge 5: Visualize Success

Visualizing the obstacles in your way and how achieving your goal will feel helps you keep going and address obstacles as they arise. 

Goggins discusses taking a break from SEAL training to recover from an injury and how he used this visualization technique to push through intense physical pain once he returned.

Challenge 6: Stock Your Cookie Jar

We often decide to take on challenges while we’re in our comfort zone, but we’re so comfortable, we don’t anticipate obstacles that could arise. To deal with this, we need additional strategies to keep going, even when we face obstacles and want to quit.

Reminding yourself of your previous accomplishments is one way to overcome obstacles. Goggins calls this collection of accomplishments your Cookie Jar. 

There’s science behind this strategy. If you get overwhelmed by obstacles, you may forget why you’re doing something and start talking to yourself in a negative way that robs you of energy to keep going. When you feel stressed, your body’s fight or flight system is at work. It’s trying to make a decision about whether to continue with what you’re doing (fight) or abandon it (flight). Focusing on your accomplishments instead of doubtful negative self-talk reminds you of what you’re capable of, giving you the energy to “fight” and keep going.

Goggins developed the cookie jar concept during his experience transitioning from Navy SEAL to ultramarathon runner.

Challenge 7: Dismantle Your Governor

Cars have an internal regulator, or governor, that limits how fast they can go. Humans are the same way—our mental governor gives us feedback, telling us if we’re in pain or feeling insecure. Many people listen too readily and stop doing a task when they’ve applied only 40 percent of their effort, leaving 60 percent on the table. Pushing past the governor means pushing through pain, insecurities, and other obstacles that make us want to quit before we’ve given our full effort.

Learning to gently push yourself helps break down your governor while gradually increasing your activity, helping you avoid injury and/or allowing your mind to get accustomed to the new workload.

Goggins learned how to manage his governor as he competed in additional ultramarathons to qualify for the Badwater 135.

Challenge 8: Compartmentalize Your Time

People often think they need to have special talents to succeed in life. However, you often won’t be naturally talented at something. Instead, you need to schedule time every day to practice and hone your skills.

For example, the number one excuse people have for not exercising is that they don’t have enough time. But most people waste 4-5 hours a day doing things like watching shows or looking at social media. Doing this challenge will help you make time for working toward your goals.

Goggins’s life got extra busy once he started getting attention for his ultra racing. He learned to compartmentalize his time to work and train.

Challenge 9 and 10: Learn From Failure and Seek Greatness

Sometimes, we’re so scared of failing that we stop ourselves from even trying something. To combat this, frame your failure as an opportunity to learn something so it feels less risky. Then, if you fail, you can evaluate the failure and refine your approach to reach your goal. 

Once you’ve met your goal, pushing yourself to go above and beyond rather than settling can help you continuously improve yourself and achieve greatness that distinguishes you from others.

Goggins’s experience attempting to become an Army Ranger and breaking the Guinness World Record for pull-ups demonstrate these principles.

10 Can’t Hurt Me Challenges From David Goggins

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  • What a Navy SEAL says about pushing yourself to achieve greatness
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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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