The High Performance Journal

How I Tricked My Brain To Like Doing Hard Things

high performance journal Jan 23, 2024

The High Performance Journal - January 23rd, 2024

When people look at me they consider me the "fitness guy".

They think that I was born in a gym and that exercise comes easy to me and that could not be further from the truth.

When I was growing up I was a degenerate: I was a fat lazy high school dropout who spent most of my time chasing pleasurable activities (video games, drinking, drugs, etc..)

I hated the gym. I thought it was a place for blowhards and douchbags who only cared about how they looked.

But one day something changed inside of me.

I went from loathing exercise to becoming addicted to it.

I traded eating potato chips on the couch and playing video games for taking walks and loving healthy foods.

What happened?

I didn't know it then but I tricked my brain into loving hard things.

I get excited when I see weaknesses and attack them with relentless consistency.

I changed who I was at a fundamental level and for today's article, I want to show you how I did this and a simple formula you can use to create massive change in your life.

Btw this is not about doing "dopamine detox", using willpower, or grinding it out. All of those are overrated and unnecessary.

I'm going to share practical things that have worked for me that you can easily integrate into your life so you can start living a great life.

Ready to change your life? Let's go.

How I Tricked My Brain Into Doing Hard Things

Step 1 - Focus On The ONE THING

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
- Barry Schwartz

Before I started on my journey I was at rock bottom. I wanted to change but I had no drive or any motivation to spur myself into action.

I was deficient in a lot of things and trying to solve all of them seemed overwhelming.

So here's what I did:

I focused on ONE THING that, if I changed it, would have a massive impact on my life.

The thing I chose was exercise.

Too many people try to change too many things at one time, which is the reason why people quit in the end.

In the book, The Paradox of Choice the author states that having more options can lead to anxiety, indecision, and dissatisfaction.

Too many choices can overwhelm an individual, making it harder to make decisions thus reducing overall happiness.

To counter this, he recommends simplifying choices by focusing on what truly matters. This enhances quality of life and contentment in a world of abundant options.

I could have chosen to change everything at once from my nutrition to my sleep to my drinking habits but doing so would fail and cause me to feel hopeless.

So I decided to focus on one thing, which was exercise.

Yet the thought of doing exercise was foreign to me.

So I made it easier by using step 2...

Step 2 - Make It Fun

“Identifying the type of play that most resonates with who you are, so you can choose a type of player to embody.” 
- Ali Abdaal

You would think that I started my habit of exercise by forcing myself to go to the gym and start grinding it out until it became a routine.

But that would have been a one-way ticket to utter failure.

I knew I needed to exercise but the thought of working out with other fit people around me was intimidating, especially as a beginner.

So I decided that the best way to make this a habit in my life was to make it fun.

I loved 2 sports as a child: Basketball and beach volleyball.

So I joined my friends at their basketball runs at the local gym and when the weather became warmer I played beach volleyball.

I committed to play either sport 3x a week and this not only brought more fun into my life it created a habit of moving my body.

I know it sounds simple but trying to do something you know is beneficial for you that you hate doing can backfire in big ways.

Instead, search for ways to make it fun first before optimizing. The thing you do consistently is infinitely better than the thing you do optimally.

This leads me to my next point...

Step 3 - Find Good Role Models

"I'm going to the gym"
- Henry Go aka. My dad

Back in the day, I was heavy into raving and I have a memory that will be etched into my brain for the rest of my life.

I was in my 20's and I was coming home from a party at 6 am. I was on all sorts of mind-altering substances and couldn't wait to hit my bed.

As I entered the code to get into my house, the door unlocked, and right in the front foyer was my dad.

Picture this...

I'm high and disheveled with messy hair from all the dancing. Dirt on my face from pure degenerate behavior.

I see my dad and I try to act normal so I ask him a question,

"Oh, hey, *insert nervous laughter* where you going so early?"

He replied,

"To the gym"

And just like that he walked out the door most likely feeling a heavy dose of dissatisfaction with my life choices.

Since then, I saw him go to the gym every single day first thing in the morning for the next 6 months.

He turned himself from being a fat out of shape entrepreneur to being the fittest guy in our family. My dad set the example.

Note: I've told him this many times that the reason I'm in the gym is because of him.

I further supplemented this by finding friends to go to the gym with, which solidified my commitment.

Now, you may not have parents who set the same example or friends who are fit and that's okay.

What you must know is that there is power in proximity.

In the journey to doing hard things, you need running mates and mentors.

This can be in the form of friends, masterminds, family members, or coaches. But you want to create a village of people who are all after the same thing.

Show me the people you spend the most time with and I'll show you your future behaviors.

Step 4 - Low Stake Incentives

So exercise was a part of my life and I'm feeling way better as a result. But I didn't want it to stop there.

You see when you start seeing results you become more inspired.

I wanted my body to look great so the next step for me was to start hitting the gym.


The gym was intimidating and I had no idea what I was doing, which added to my reluctance.

So I did something to trick myself into going:

When I committed to going to the gym I told myself that the worst thing that would happen was that I see some attractive girls and the best thing that would happen is that I got in shape.

I ended up achieving both :)

By creating low stake incentives I created reasons to follow through on my desired behavior, which was going to the gym.

But that would not have happened without the last step...

Step 5 - The Formula For Massive Change

"The hardest weight to lift is the front door to the gym"
- Unknown

I have a 3 step life formula that's enabled me to get in shape, build an audience of over 1.5 million followers, create successful fulfilling businesses, and find the woman of my dreams.

The formula is:

SU + DTW + I = Massive Success

Let me break it down...

#1 - Show Up

This is the most important part of the formula. If you do nothing else but this you will be more successful than 90% of people out there.

My only task at the gym was to open the doors and show up 3-4x a week. If I wanted to leave I could but most times I stayed and worked out.

I did everything wrong and looked like an idiot but I didn't care. I just showed up.

Showing up is the prerequisite to achieving anything in life. You can't be a player if you're not in the arena.

But once you've shown up what do you do?

#2 - Do The Work

This is not some trite platitude you post on your wall hoping to inspire you.

Look, once you're in the arena the only thing left to do is the work.

In the beginning, you want to keep it simple. Stick with the basics and don't expect much from yourself.

Be okay with looking like a beginner because we all had to start somewhere.

As you do that focus on the final step...

#3 - Constantly Look For Ways To IMPROVE

In 2024, I've committed myself to posting a video every week on Saturday at 8 am to my YouTube channel.

Note: If you love these newsletters you will love the channel. It would mean a lot to me if you'd subscribe and help me grow so I can reach more beautiful people like yourself. If you're cool with that please click here to subscribe :)

Every time I do a video I review the stats and write in my journal on how to improve my videos.

I know that, if I do this enough times, I'll invoke the power of compounding and eventually create awesome videos.

I've accelerated this by buying courses, hiring YouTube coaches, and surrounding myself with guys who are looking to do the same thing I am.

When you're showing up to the arena and doing the work you need to look for ways to improve.

You may not see massive changes in the beginning but getting even 1% better each week can lead to exponential change after a full year.

Follow the above formula for any part of your life and I guarantee you'll see massive success.


"Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life"
- Jerzy Gregorek

Your life will be determined by the amount of "hard things" you can do.

What you may find from this list is that it's less about dopamine detoxing and more about simplifying the process to make it work for you.

Don't expect this to change your life immediately upon applying it. Give this a time horizon of at least 1 year and expect massive changes in month 3 and beyond.

Life is going to be hard either way. You might as well choose the hard that suits your self-development.

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan


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