The Perception of Difficulty

I managed to squeeze my lunch into the 10 minutes I had before boarding my train. Not an especially unique story, but people were looking at me as though it was offensive to eat 250g of salmon, 250g of cherry tomatoes, and a whole avocado in a train station. They probably would have been even more shocked to know that all of those ingredients had been acquired 10 minutes beforehand for less than the cost of their big macs.

This is not meant to be a lesson in healthy eating, but rather a demonstration of how easy it is to do the right thing. Whether it is eating healthily, going to the gym, or approaching women, one of your greatest barriers is always going to be the extent to which you perceive the activity to be difficult. Going to the gym takes “too much time”, eating well “costs too much”, and approaching women “is just too difficult”. Obviously your job is to ignore these messages, or better yet, to use them to your advantage (more on that later).

There are three main paths that I use to eliminate perceived difficulty:
1) Necessity
2) Reality
3) Motivation


My first trip backpacking around Europe (alone) was a terrifying prospect. Until that point, I had always travelled overseas with friends or family, so when it came time to arrange and board my first train, I was more scared than I had ever been. I got on the train, however, because I had to. Failure to board that train would have deprived me of a place to sleep that night, and the fun of exploring a new destination. Such an attitude can easily be applied to your own life, as nothing will kill objections quite as quickly as necessity.

➢ If you don’t approach you wont get the girl. Thus you must approach to get laid.
➢ If you don’t work out you will not get better muscles. You must work out for better health and appearance.
➢ If you don’t eat well you will feel worse, function poorly, and die younger. You must eat well to live long and properly.


Though it is not always true, the first time you try something is usually the hardest. A little like jumping into cold water, the difficulty comes from the initial moments of adjustment, and a minute into your swim, you feel fine. In overcoming your fear of an action, you must realize how transient the difficulty is likely to be, and that most (if not all) of the difficulty comes from being in an unfamiliar situation. This is a very freeing concept, as it means that the best way to overcome a fear of difficulty is to do what you believe is difficult. Very rarely will your belief in an activity’s difficulty be proven right.

➢ Approaching: much easier once you have done it a few times. Tyler from RSD can open like a madman, a product of his commitment to going out 6 to 7 nights a week. Insane as that sounds, it’s a valuable lesson in the power of comfort.
➢ Gyming: Tyler (again) has an excellent video on youtube about this. In short he says that there is never a convenient time to go to the gym, but he does it anyway. Again his repetition creates familiarity, and this familiarity dispels difficulty.
➢ Eating Well: from my experience the hardest part of eating well is knowing what to eat. Apart from that startup cost (as it were), the only thing you need to do is buy food and eat it. There is no difficulty there; you already do that.


Occasionally things are just plain difficult. Climbing Mount Everest is probably a good example. When forced to do something that is genuinely difficult you should not despair, as you have the option to use this as motivation. I have a bad habit of trying to game models with boyfriends. I have only ever succeeded once, but I still like to try. I try because of the difficulty, the difficulty that makes it fun, challenges me, and teaches me things about my game that I would not learn in a more comfortable situation. Difficulty teaches you to control yourself under pressure, an essential skill for life, which I guarantee will throw you a curveball every now and then. Accept that the task ahead will be difficult and love that fact, get excited about it. It will teach you a great deal and make you a better person once you have mastered it.

To conclude: I try to see difficulty as an indicator of progress rather than an obstacle. If something is genuinely difficult, it is because you are stepping outside of your normal boundaries, and any such experience will greatly broaden your understanding and skill set.