The Discomfort Tax
If you're like me at all, you're not a fan of paying taxes.
Not that I'm 100% anti-tax or anti-government or anything like that - far from it.
But I do live in a state where the income and property taxes are some of the highest in the country, so I'm always looking for relief where I can find it.
As I started to look deeper into my own performance and what makes the most elite performers so extraordinary, I noticed for the first time a tax I was paying below the surface, unseen but affecting me in almost every single area of my life.
I call it the Discomfort Tax.
Think of the Discomfort Tax a little like sales tax. You buy lunch, a little gets tacked on at the end. You don't really notice it to the point that you want to do something about it, but it adds up over time.
When you're paying the Discomfort Tax, you less-than-fully-consciously expend extra time, money, or energy either before, during, or after doing something that's uncomfortable. It seems like there's a reward in what you're doing, bu it feels empty in the end. You might call it numbing or soothing or addiction, you might judge it or avoid thinking about it.
Whatever you call it, whatever your relationship with it is, it just might be a tiny hole in your game keeping you from performing at an even higher level.
Example: I saw a very sneaky version of this in my own life last week.
I went out to get some new workout shirts. Buying clothes is always a thing for me - I struggle to find clothes that both fit me well and feel good. I found a great deal on a couple shirts I really liked - in fact, I already had a few of them at home, so I knew they fit and felt great to wear.
So I had them off the rack, was walking to the cashier, and then stopped, turned around, and put them back on the rack! I told myself I'd check out some other stores, see what else was out there, and then come back for these shirts.
Wait..I really wanted these shirts, though! At least I thought.
It took a minute to slow myself down, get out of the frenzy in my head about whether these were the shirts I really wanted, and take them to the cashier to pay for them.
On my way back to the car, I passed a Starbucks and thought, "This is a perfect time to stop for a coffee!"
It was 7 in the evening. It was not the perfect time for a coffee.
Fortunately, I saw what was going on, took a moment to get real with myself about what I wanted the rest of my night to look like, and decided to not tamp down the feeling of discomfort that came from the whole shirt-buying experience.
So the discomfort is obvious: buying clothes. This was a best-case scenario, where I was able to sniff out what was going on and respond accordingly, so the taxes ended up being a total of 5 minutes spend bringing myself back to reality.
In the other scenario, where I gave in to my impulse to shop around, then ultimately get a coffee, the tax might be more like an hour spent shopping before I came back to buy the shirts I wanted in the first place (never mind the possibility that they were sold before I came back), plus another 15-20 minutes sitting in Starbucks drinking my coffee. That's more than an hour spent away from my wife, away from any work I want to do, away from friends I want to talk with, and creating extra tension in my life in response to discomfort.
What's your flavor of the Discomfort Tax?
Take some time today to think on it.
And most importantly - don't turn it into something to get perfect. Sometimes, you'll catch yourself getting ready to pay the Discomfort Tax, know it's not what you really want, and end up doing it anyway. It's all right. You'll live.
Remember, you're a human, not a robot.
P.S. There's a project I've had in the works for a month now - a new podcast. It's called In This Moment, and the first episode will be dropping on August 17th. I'll be having off-the-cuff conversations with friends of mine who are unique, brilliant, wildly successful - and you'd never know it if you walked by them on the street. It'll be a look inside our minds and hearts, completely unrehearsed, and full of laughs. More details to come in the next few weeks.
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