For the longest time, I couldn’t squat more than 200 pounds. Though training 5 days a week had quickly pushed me from squatting zero to 195 pounds, adding five extra pounds to the bar felt like adding 1000.
I knew this limit was artificial, manufactured in my brain that tried as best as it could to preserve itself by not taking risks. Regardless, I couldn’t break through. So I looked to a friend and fitness coach for some expert advice:
“Throw 300 pounds on the bar,” he said. “Don’t try to squat it, just put it on your shoulders. Feel the weight, hold it, then re-rack it. Do this a few times, then drop back to 200 lbs and try squatting again.”
In theory, nothing had changed. I hadn’t gotten any stronger. I hadn’t learned a new technique or used some new device to artificial increase my lift. I had simply forced my mind to believe that it was possible to hold more weight. And after holding 300 lbs, squatting 200 felt much, much lighter.
What seemingly impossible task are you dealing with right now? What is holding you back from taking that next step towards your goals?
Acknowledge it, but move quickly to build tasks that challenge you. If someone has achieved what you are trying to achieve before, study them. Open your mind to the possibility that, if they can do it, so can you. Push yourself to operate at a new level, even if only briefly. When you come back to your work, what seemed impossible before may be that much easier.
Sometimes, when you get stuck and can’t seem to break through to the next level—when you hit a plateau that prevents you from furthering your goals—showing yourself the impossible is possible can be the breakthrough you need.