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When You Think Maybe Things "Are Not For You" - Give It Another Day

Stew smith

Special Ops Selection programs as well as other tough journeys culminating in difficult goal achievement are filled with more of those who failed than succeeded for a reason - they are time consuming and hard. I recently had a few conversations with two different groups of people - doctor/surgeons and a few Navy SEALs. Both groups accomplished their goals and are still growing for future successes. Some of their statements really struck a chord with me and prompted this article idea. The newly minted Navy SEAL said:

                                         Picture by DMcBurnett

"Yeah, we had guys quitting everyday at BUD/S at least in the first four weeks (Weeks 1,2,3 of First Phase and Hellweek). Even before we even started First phase!  Most of them said as they were leaving or thinking about leaving, 'This is not for me.' Whether it was the anxiety of starting, the cold, boats on heads, logs, the runs, or just the daily grind of first phase, it was not for them. I thought to myself, 'NO SHIT - this is not for anybody.' No one joins the Navy to become a career BUD/S student. Literally, all I had to do was suck it up for four weeks and the pain of logs, boats, and Hellweek were over. We never touched another log or boat, but the grind never stopped. The cold never stopped as we were colder in a Winter Dive Phase than any night in First Phase. The runs never stopped and got harder. The wet and sandy never stopped, in fact, the few days of BUD/S when we stayed dry I could count on one hand.  The discomfort never stopped. But no one quit at this point post hellweek." 

He continued, "Now, I am a new guy and learning all over again and these are the most fun and challenging things I have ever done.  It is still hard, still cold, still wet, and even more technical that I ever imagined.  BUDS and SQT  definitely prepare you for this job, but you never stop learning. I am grateful I am a very small part of this community. BUDS is the cost of admission - how much are you willing to pay?  That is the big question you have to have an answer for when you are wondering 'if this is for you or not'." 

 The Doctor / Surgeon Journey

The surgeon stated the following:  "When I was 18 years old, I knew I wanted to become a surgeon. I did not realize what that really meant until one of my classes in organic chemistry.  Many of these courses are called "weed out courses".  When I realized this journey was going to take until I was 30 years old to complete, I had my doubts. I made a joke about it and thought I am in 13th grade now and will be done when I hit 25th grade." Let that sink in. 

"I think the key for me was recognizing that although organic chemistry (for example) was a boring class, doing well in it was necessary to do the thing I was excited about, which was being a doctor and taking care of patients. Same philosophy applied to many other college courses and the standardized tests we all had to take in order to compete for medical school admissions."

"During the years of medical school and neurosurgery residency, the same way of thinking was helpful...a lot of ordeals that we all had to go through were just things we had to do in order to reach the eventual goal of becoming neurosurgeons. Delayed gratification."

"There were many long nights of studying and classmates were failing out all around me and changing majors. Neither one of my room mates became a doctor and they tried and either had a change of heart, financial reasons, or could not get into a med school after struggling through four years of pre-med courses." 

"Typically, there is over 50% of medical school applicants that do not get accepted into medical school. Then, there is still only an 80% graduation rate. Compare that to your SEAL training and it would be like you lose another 20% of your class after hellweek. So it starts out hard and gets even harder."

"What made me stay the course?  To be honest, I was stubborn, but knew I had a lot to learn AND I could learn it well enough to succeed and no one was going to out work me."   

Does this attitude sound familiar? Just about every one I know who has succeeded at something - no matter the previous failures - were just persistent hard workers year after year. 

Let's Up It A Notch - Navy SEALs Who Became Doctors

I know at least a dozen of these hard chargers who started out as a SEAL first and later applied to Medical School after 8-10 years. Another conversation with a former Navy SEAL who became a surgeon was just awe inspiring. Eight years in the Teams followed by finishing medical pre-requisites in college, applying to med school, getting accepted, stumbling through another 8 years of education and training before he became a licensed doctor/surgeon. He stayed in the Navy as a medical officer and retired and now has his own practice with a few other Navy doctors. That amount of determination after years of arduous work in front of you has to motivate you not intimidate you. Then you have to be disciplined enough to work even when you don't feel like it. 

Of course, you have heard of Jonny Kim who was a Navy SEAL medic, who became a Harvard educated doctor, and now an astronaut. He is on a journey to keep getting better than he was the day before. You have to stay dedicated to the goal no matter what the physical, mental, emotional, and financial costs by taking one day at a time and being better than you were yesterday. 

Jonny Kim - American Bad-ass

Both of these former SEAL doctors were on a journey to do something that they really cared about doing and nothing was going to stop them. Journeys like these do not occur on a whim sitting in a recruiting office asking the recruiter what jobs you qualify for. Know WHY you want to do big goals like these. 
Do your research. Prepare Properly, And get to work and don't quit.  With solid preparation and a competitive spirit, you can endure any challenge and never once even think about quitting. 

A Few More Helpful Suggestions

Get TougherWhether it is just a natural weakness or you failed to properly prepare, all you can do now is focus, put on your game face and keep moving forward. Focus on your mental / emotional and physical recovery each day, avoid injury and burnout, and be ready for the event that caused you to even consider quitting the next time it occurs. 

Don't Give Up - Give it Another Day

When things are going poorly, and they will, sleep on it and come back focused with your game face on ready to put in the work. This is YOUR moment of truth. If you cannot do that, then you are right - this journey is not for you. There is nothing wrong with that as you need to find something that really resonates deep inside you so no matter what the time in school, financial costs, pain costs, and efforts to prepare properly do not make you change your mind. 

Related Articles

Quitting or Not Quitting - The Choice is Yours

Failed at Never Quit

Moment of Truth - Your Will

Never Give Up

Secret to Avoid Quitting

Who Is The Coach, Trainer, Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at


Which Program is Right For Me - Special Ops Candidates 



Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 Beginner Weeks 1-9 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging.  It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run.  It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Navy SEAL Weight Training Book
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book

The Pipeline of Training Options: 


It depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. 

Special Ops – Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program. So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training.


Seasonal Tactical Fitness Programs 

Especially These That Are Used For Local Spec Ops Candidates Last Year


and even more at Complete List of Books / eBooks...

Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3.  

 OR Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training - Delivered Weekly?

Get Weekly Unpublished Workouts Tested and Evaluated by local Stew Smith Training programs. 

Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.

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