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When There is No Light at the End of the Tunnel - Shorten the Tunnel

Stew smith

Goal Accomplishment is All About One Bite at a Time, Baby Steps, Sub-Goals...
Shortening the Tunnel

PC - D.McBurnett @mcteams3842

A recent question about Hell Week prompted an answer I have never used before, as the question required some thoughtful introspection. The questions were "What is Hell Week like on Monday (Day 1) - What is your mindset when you have until Friday to keep doing the things you have been doing since midnight that day?"

My response: "On Monday, you are already tired, and the light at the end of the tunnel is not visible. It is a dark tunnel. But you are not alone. You have your classmates, boat crew, and swim buddy to rely on when the day turns to night, and you are just getting more wet, sandy, and colder. 

For this particular question, breaking each day into 4 separate meals every 6 hours is a classic way many successful BUDS graduates "ate the elephant." Each meal is your salvation, both as a way to "shorten the tunnel" and for fuel to keep moving and staying warm. Take each meal seriously, as you need the calories if you want to endure the 120-hour continuous evolution.

But even the 120-hour evolution is broken up into multiple evolutions each day. Some graduates say they would just make it to the next evolution, which typically breaks the 6-hour wait until the next meal in half as about every 2-3 hours you were on to the next event. This is making the tunnel even smaller if you need to do so. Not a bad idea at all. 

For those of you who are not planning on enduring Hell Week, you can use the same philosophy in your workday, recovering from a serious illness, or putting in the extra hours for your side hustle/studying, etc. One day at a time is a philosophy and problem-solving method for long-term goals and challenges. It is truly the only way I know when setting up and preparing for a life's goal and hard-fought accomplishment. It has to be part of your mindset.  

When you look back on such accomplishments, you can honestly say the "days were long, but the years go by fast." It is hard to believe my early goals of getting accepted into the Naval Academy - struggling to graduate. Getting TO and THROUGH BUDS has been over 30 years ago, but there is not a day that goes by that I do not use the same methods of goal accomplishment with my daily TO-DO list and long-term projects. 

Failures happen even with the toughest of wills. Bouncing back quickly during these challenging tests is also part of the journey. Make sure you have a solid answer when you ask yourself, "Why are you doing this to yourself?" because it may happen when you are having your worst day ever. What is YOUR answer when your will is tested?  This is the moment of truth and often the deciding factor in continuing or quitting. 

Remember - how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time...

PC - D.McBurnett @mcteams3842

More Advice Related to the Final Approach to the Big Test

There comes a time in your journey towards a goal when you cannot get stronger or faster, and you just have to get tougher. 

Other Hell Week Advice

Post Hell Week Advice

However, this answer is for any challenge or goal you have in front of you. You may find the same feeling in an IronMan Triathlon, a long night shift, or continuing school to become a doctor year after year. All of these goals require spending some time in the pain cave, where it is cold and dark and there seems to be no end in sight. Just keep moving forward...

There is More To than You May Know

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, eBooks, local 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

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