David Goggins: 5 Challenges to Build Mental Toughness

David Goggins is known as the toughest man alive.

He’s a retired Navy SEAL and the only member of the U.S. Armed forces to complete two hell weeks in two months (the toughest training in the US military). He has also run over 60 ultramarathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons and he once held the Guinness World Record for pull-ups completing 4,030 in 17 hours.

Good God.

He also continues to train hard every damn day.

Now there’s a lot us mere mortals can learn from the legend.

In his new book, ‘Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the OddsDavid shares ten different challenges we can take on to help us increase our mental toughness and create an ‘armoured mind.’

In case you’re wondering why you’d want an armoured mind...I truly believe it’s a requirement to thrive in today’s world. I’m not talking about letting go of your femininity or sensitivity, I’m talking about building up an inner strength and cultivating resilience in the face of chaos.    

So today, I’m excited to share with you different challenges you can take on to help sharpen your mind or create an ‘armoured mind’ to blast through BS and live your best damn life.

Here are the five challenges to test out from easiest to hardest:

Challenge #1: Create Your Identity with the Accountability Mirror

“When you look yourself in the mirror, that’s the one person you can’t lie to.”

What is it?: The Accountability Mirror method is when you put post-it notes with your goals, whether they’re career goals, lifestyle goals etc. on your mirror so you see them every morning. You hold yourself accountable to the standard you want for your life. He recommends you actually write this out, and not use a digital device for this practice.

Why?: This practice is all about self-improvement and self-discipline. It’s about being honest with yourself and checking in with yourself and your goals everyday.



Example: Currently I’m adding ‘I Am Strong,’ ‘I am Peaceful’  and ‘I Am an Early Riser’ on my bathroom mirror. Hope my BF Josh wants the same thing ;)

Share: If you do this, share the hashtag: #accountabilitymirror to get in the conversation on social media.

Challenge #2:  Write Down the Things that Make You Uncomfortable.

“The first step on the journey towards a calloused mind is stepping outside your comfort zone on a regular basis.”

What is it?: The idea here is to come face to face with your fears. We’re not talking about staring down the barrel of a gun, we’re talking about the things you know could be good for you if you were willing to try them. Think: public speaking, going to the gym, eating kale (heehee), going to a class alone, speaking out when about injustices.

Why?: Doing things - even small things - that make you uncomfortable will help you get strong. When you get strong, mentally and physically it’s hard for people to get under your skin. You become resilient.

 Example: I find it uncomfortable to consistently talk about race. If you follow me on social media you’ll notice I occasionally post images and videos about the work I’m doing behind the scenes to educate myself about white privilege and how to create a safe, peaceful, equal world for all. But it’s not enough. This quote rings so true. “It's a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life!" This is not fair, I recognize this, and I’m working to change my behaviour.

Share: If you do this, share the hashtag #discomfortzone #pathofmostresistance #canthurtme #impossibletask to get in the conversation on social media.

Challenge #3: Break Your Goal Down into Small Tasks

“When I heard the pull-up record was 4020 pull-ups [...] I went right to a pen and paper to do the math. I was breaking the math down to see how many I should do per hour.”

What is it? Quite simply break your big goal (sometimes called the BHAG or big hairy audacious goal) into smaller, more attainable goals. My habits mentor, James Clear shares, “The real bottleneck of progress is our daily habits and the system we have for making them happen. It’s really all about the systems that you create by breaking down your goal.” So true.

Why: Breaking your goal into small tasks help you feel satisfied when you complete them, helps you build a system for daily success and helps you build momentum.


Example: I’m training for my black belt test in Krav Maga in December. It’s definitely a BHAG. Some of the ways I’m breaking this down is to ensure I train 3x per week in class, schedule a one hour training session with my sister every week (she’s also testing), meditate daily (for mental calm) and spend an hour a week watching video of techniques.

Share: If you do this, share the hashtag #armouredmind #uncommon #talentnotrequired #canthurtme to get in the conversation on social media.

Challenge #4: Visualize Your Goal

“The average person thinks 2000-3000 thoughts per hour. Rather than focusing on bullshit you cannot change, imagine visualizing the things you can.”

What is it? Choose any obstacle in your way or set a new goal. Simply sit and visualize yourself overcoming or achieving it. Do this in any way that feels aligned for you. You may want to sit and think, you may want to draw, you may want to go for a run!

Also, before engaging in a new activity, David recommends that you imagine what success looks like and feels like by using these questions:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What is driving you towards this achievement?
  • Where does the darkness you’re using as fuel come from?
  • What has calloused your mind?

Why? Visualization is a powerful tool for turning your ideas into reality. I first learned about visualizing through Jack Canfield’s work. Visualizing helps to activate your subconscious mind and programs your brain to achieve your goals.

Example: David Goggins runs ultra races. If you’re unfamiliar, these are races that are 100 miles and longer! As mentioned he’s run +60 of them! One particularly tough race is the Badwater-135 Ultramarathon. David has run it multiple times. It truly sounds like hell on Earth. David would get through it by mentally preparing before the race and visualizing himself crossing the finish line.

Share: If you do this, share the hashtag #armouredmind #visualize #canthurtme to get in the conversation on social media.

Challenge #5: Taking Souls.

“Taking souls is a ticket to finding your own reserve power and riding a second wind. It’s the tool you can call upon to win any competition or overcome every life obstacle”

What is it? Choose any competitive situation you’re in right now and do whatever it takes to be EXCELLENT. The idea is to dominate by working harder than anyone could ever expect of you. An example David shares is, if you’re a student spend extra time on assignments, show up to class early, ask questions, pay attention. Do whatever it takes to be excellent.

Why? This forces you to push yourself harder than ever before for your personal glory of knowing you’ve achieved excellence. Now this isn’t meant to be for one area of life, ideally you can eventually apply this to many (or all) areas of your life and be a highly tuned performing machine! Clearly this is an advanced tactic for those of you willing to push yourself to the brink.

Example: The first person that comes to mind on this topic is my friend (and mentor) Pauleanna Reid. She takes souls wherever she goes. One specific example is when she had a 9-5 job, she arrived at 6am and worked for 2 hours before practically anyone even showed up. It’s no surprise that she earned double her income from her side hustle last year. #HERO

Share: If you do this, share the hashtag #takingsouls #canthurtme to get in the conversation on social media.


I’ve only scratched the surface here with these challenges. If you purchase David’s book, he shares 10 challenges you can take including creating a ‘Cookie Jar’ with memories of accomplishments, the 40% rule and creating an armoured mind to name a few!

If you take on any of these challenges, tag me on Instagram so I can support you or comment below to share how you’re embracing mental toughness.


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