I feel embarrassed to tell you this: I’m struggling with the plank challenge. Three days ago, I did a 4:15 plank, and predicted that today, after increasing my plank time by fifteen seconds per day, I would do a five-minute plank. Today I did a three minute plank.

I don’t think it’s because I can’t do it physically. It would help if it was less uncomfortable, but this is just me against me. This is all about my internal struggle, and you get to see the fruit of that directly in the chart.

My time has gone 255, 180, 120, 180 over the past four days, and you all have seen that. I’m sure that most people are impressed by all my little Xs and have not noticed this, but I feel really embarrassed about it.

One of the things that really helps me to perform and to improve is to have visibility, to be witnessed. Some people think that’s narcissistic, or not self-motivated. That’s all true. I am narcissistic and externally driven, to a degree. And my particular personality warps mean that this is how I function. I can either use what I have or I can deny it and try to be something else. I have grown to the point where I am using my personality to presumably, eventually, transcend my personality.

The enneagram books tell me that as an enneagram type three, my healthy growth leads to being inspirational to others. Well, this work that I’m doing with the lifestyle challenge is clearly very motivating to others. Several of you have become inspired by this and your lives are changing massively for the better.

So I feel really motivated and inspired by inspiring other people, and I’m biting off challenges that are hard for me. Well this plank thing is kicking my butt right now, and I feel embarrassed about that.

I told you that I would be at five minutes, in a way that I see now as kind of cocky, and I’m not at five minutes. I feel like I’m letting you down, and that I’m failing you.

This is what happens: I decide that I’m going to plank for a certain time, and then it gets really uncomfortable, and I get all of these conflicting messages internally. “You don’t need to do this,” “Two minutes is a really good plank,” “I can’t let them down,” “It doesn’t matter,” “Be gentle with yourself,” “This is really uncomfortable.”

I’m sure that there are even deeper feelings and messages coming up around this than I can’t easily express as words. I thought I was tougher than this. And yet, I’m also taking more care of myself and being gentler with myself. I know that a five minute plank is not going to actually injure me. It just hurts in the moment. It’s like going through a sort of self-torture. Part of me commits to finishing it and another part of me does not want to put myself through pain.

Right now I’m trying to be playful with it, to keep engaging with it, to bring awareness to it, share about it (this post), and to keep riding this edge. Where will it take me and what will I become?

Playfulness feels like a really good path. I’ll play with it. Come watch me play.

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives | duncanriach.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store