Paying The Price

Are you willing to pay the price?

I know that this might sound a little weird, but I believe that most pain is a good thing.

Most pain, that is.

For example, most of you know how strongly I feel about the Pain of Never Again.

Not only is that pain life-changing, but it can be life-saving too.

Years ago, I remember hearing a story about a woman who stayed in line at Six Flags amusement park for over an hour in 90-degree heat to ride on a roller coaster with her son.

When they finally made it through the line and arrived at the roller coaster, something life-changing happened to her.

And it wasn’t pretty.

The Six Flags park attendant couldn’t close the safety bar to secure the woman in the roller coaster car because she was too overweight.

In an incredibly cruel fashion, the other kids and parents waiting in line started laughing hysterically as the park attendant called over another attendant to help push down the safety bar on the woman, to no avail.

Even worse than her own humiliation, was how mortified her son was by all of this.

He was simultaneously humiliated by the vicious laughter and teasing, but also desperately sad about the treatment of his mom.

He waited for months to go to Six Flags (specifically to ride this roller coaster), and even though his mom pleaded with him to ride the roller coaster alone, he wanted to ride it with her.

After the park attendants had no choice but to give up, the woman and her son both made the walk of shame past the line of snickering park goers–and as they walked away, she noticed tears in her son’s eyes.

As she walked away, she said the following two life-changing words to herself with anger, sadness, and complete conviction:


That is The Pain of Never Again. Once she felt it, her life was never the same again.

We’ll revisit this woman’s story later on in this post, but for now, let’s bring it back to us.

Have you ever felt this life-changing pain before?

God, I hope so.

Don’t get me wrong, the Pain of Never Again is an absolutely miserable experience, but it’s something that we should all experience at least once in our lives. Everyone (and I mean, everyone) who has experienced it has walked away from it a better person.

Even though that’s true, the Pain of Never Again is doing it the hard way.

There’s an easier way, but unfortunately, it’s going to require us to pay a price.

Even worse, it’s also going to involve some pain too. The good news is that the pain is very temporary.

Or not.


Let’s add some clarity.

The Pain of Discipline vs. The Pain of Regret

There are two types of pain you will go through in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons.” -Jim Rohn

This Jim Rohn quote is one of my all-time favorites. Or worded differently, in our lives, we have the choice to suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret.

This is a choice that cannot be avoided.

It took me a while to fully understand what this meant, but I definitely get it now.

Pain is unavoidable. It is inescapable. The question isn’t if we’ll experience pain in our lives (because believe me, we will), the question is how much pain we’ll experience and to what magnitude.

Since pain isn’t going anywhere, it’s a complete waste of time to spend our lives trying to avoid it. That would be as crazy as spending our lives trying to outrun our own shadow.

A much better idea is to learn to become more comfortable with feeling pain–most specifically, the Pain of Discipline.

The good news is that the Pain of Discipline is temporary. It doesn’t last forever, even though it might feel like it while you’re fighting through it.

Every champion and every successful person in this world’s history has learned the importance of fighting through this pain, and if we choose to live our best lives too, we must learn to embrace this pain as well.

The failure to do so could be devastating to our overall well-being.

Here’s a small example of this in my personal life.

Every Tuesday morning is my early workout day. In order for me to have a meaningful workout, I need to be at the gym at 5 a.m.

Just so you know, please believe that I’m not one of those people who loves to go to the gym. I only do it for two reasons: 1) because I want to feel healthy enough to do the things that I choose to do in my life and 2) to ensure that I stay alive for as long as possible for my two little girls. That’s pretty much it.

But let’s be real–every time when that alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, all I want to do is roll over and fall back asleep.

It’s at that moment that I’m presented with a familiar choice:

Choose the Pain of Discipline or The Pain of Regret.

As I said earlier, the Pain of Discipline is temporary. In this example, it only lasts for the duration of my workout, which is an hour at the most. And as always, I feel amazing once the workout is over.

However, the Pain of Regret is different. This pain isn’t a brief experience. In fact, there is no limit to how long this pain can stick with me.

On the mornings where I rolled over in my bed and fell back asleep, I always ended up feeling like crap when I woke up.

The regretful pain of failing to keep a promise to myself (and indirectly, to my little girls) is infinitely worse than the temporary pain of an hour workout.

At this point you might be thinking, “What is this? Some sort of fitness motivation post?”

Not even slightly.

The Pain of Discipline vs. Regret philosophy is so much bigger than a simple gym workout.

This crucial choice can affect every area of our lives.

If we don’t find the discipline to put money into a savings account, we’ll experience the regret of having no funds available during an unforeseen financial emergency.

If we don’t find the discipline to quit procrastinating on that important report at work, we’ll experience the regret of looking like complete asses in front of our coworkers and bosses when it’s time to finally present that report to them.

If we don’t find the discipline to completely honor and respect ourselves, we’ll experience the regret of spending valuable years of our lives as someone’s doormat.

If we don’t find the discipline to make healthier food choices, we’ll experience the regret of our physician telling us that we’ve been diagnosed with a very preventable health issue.

If we don’t find the discipline to stop being a chronic complainer, we’ll experience the regret of living a life where no one wants to be around us.

If we don’t find the discipline to sit down and start writing that book, we’ll experience the regret of seeing another author become wealthy and successful using a book idea that is similar to ours.

If we don’t find discipline to seek help to get our drinking under control, we’ll experience the regret of destroying our relationships with our spouses and kids (sadly, this happened to a friend of mine).

Hell yes, discipline is tough and the pain of it is very real.

But it’s temporary.

Remember that.

Paying The Price

Remember the woman who I mentioned earlier in this post?

She used that mortifying situation at Six Flags to find the inner strength to master the Pain of Discipline.

She changed her diet, went to the gym for the first time in many years, and most importantly, she reclaimed her health and her happiness.

During that time do you think that she wanted to give in and skip going to gym? Do you think that she wanted to reach for a Big Mac and fries instead of a lean chicken breast and veggies? Do you think that she wanted to give up entirely?

Absolutely, but she didn’t. She feared the Pain of Regret more than the Pain of Discipline.

Truthfully, we all should.

Less than a year later, she was back at Six Flags with her son and they both rode the roller coaster that changed her life. It was an incredibly emotional moment for her, and it was one that wouldn’t have been possible if she didn’t choose the Pain of Discipline over the Pain of Regret.

Like I said earlier though, she did it the hard way.

We don’t need to feel the Pain of Never Again in order to live our best lives. All we have to do is commit to put in the necessary work.

One of the main themes of The Positivity Solution is to remember that our best lives are waiting for all of us, but our best lives won’t come to us without putting in some serious effort.

In other words, we must pay the price.

If there is something that you know that you should do, if there a goal that you have set for yourself, or a dream that you’ve always wanted to make real in your life, I want to talk directly to you for a moment.

A life looking in the rear view mirror dreaming about “what could have been” with a heart full of regret is not for us.

We can refuse to experience the Pain of Regret, we can overcome the Pain of Discipline, and most importantly, we can get one step closer to our best lives by making the right choice right now.

The good news is that we only have to do it today.

One thing is for certain for all of us.

We can either pay the much cheaper price now (Pain of Discipline) or we can pay the much more expensive price later (Pain of Regret), but we can make no mistake about the following point:

We will pay.

That fact is unavoidable.

If so, let’s do it on our terms.



Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.

Latest posts by Shola (see all)


  1. This is one of my current struggles, Shola!

    Last year, through daily work outs and rigid eating habits, I managed to lose 60 lbs. I felt wonderful and was so excited to be healthy. Then I had a ‘perfect storm’ of factors that blew all my progress out of the water… two different painful injuries that prevented any types of workouts, a job change that added 4 hours to every workday, the purchase of a new house and a new car… all just lots and lots of stress. Add to that daily life stuff and you might see where this is going…

    So I am back where I started. I am going to try again, but right now the ‘overwhelming’ outweighs the pain of regret. I need time to process and mourn all that I have been through over the year to get back to my motivated self.

    I think we all weigh different ‘pains’ every day. We are not always ready to face that choice you laid out for us. Sometimes we have to live with the pain for a while (as you learned in your soul-sucking experience) before we get to the ‘never again’ phase.

    I am still learning to balance my new job (which is an amazing position that affords me the opportunity to help so many more at risk youth than before!) with my home life and to see where exercise can realistically fit in there.

    Oh, and we got a puppy. (a random bit of info for you lol)

    So yeah, I am not quite there, but I’m working up to it. 😉

    • Estellaleigh says:

      Kathy, the answer is in the puppy. Even if he/she is a 6 pound teacup, he’s mostly likely full of energy, stamina and a desire to be on the go. Turn it into your advantage and make her your partner walking, hiking, jogging…anything. There’s something so awesome about being outside with your dog, it’s free, the air is fresh, the endorphins kick in…win/win. If you can’t get your family involved and you don’t want to go alone see if there’s a meetup group in your area ( The walking and hiking groups in particular seem to be universally welcoming, friendly and free spirits at least for the duration of the activity. There are usually even groups for people with dogs. It’s a great way to make a commitment and stick with it. Congratulations on your job and life, the weight is just another piece of the puzzle. You got this!

    • Kathy, I hear you, my friend! The overwhelming can sometimes outweigh the pain of regret. Also, you are absolutely right about being ready–you deserve to take all the time that you need to mourn. Everyone is different when it comes to the time it will take to get ready, but I can say with confidence that when we are ready to change (and only then), our best lives are only a decision away. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me personally, I’ve always been a very undisciplined guy, but when I heard the Jim Rohn quote (Pain of Discipline vs. Pain of Regret) for the first time, it struck me like a ton of bricks. For some reason that quote resonated with me at a soul level and completely changed me as a person.

      Most importantly of all, is the fact you’re working toward your goal, and in the end, that’s all we can do :). Congrats on your puppy, Kathy!

      • Thanks, Shola! I agree that the puppy is going to help a lot! I hope that I can find that motivation again, but I refuse to punish myself for falling back. It’s all about staying positive and taking each new day as it comes! 😉

  2. It took me all day to think of what I wanted to write about this post. Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the thought of something that you just couldn’t think about it anymore? This what happens to me when I think about what I should do (lose weight, don’t smoke etc.). I have no will power. Maybe it’s because I spent so many years not being able to have anything that I just can’t stop doing what I want instead of what I should. Maybe it’s because I struggle on a daily basis with feeling like I am worthy enough. It’s a vicious cycle really. It’s like this: I suck, and so since I don’t know how to not suck, I just keep sucking…get it? It’s like being an emotional eater (I am not, but…) you eat to feel better then you feel worse so you eat more to feel better. Of course this applies to all unhealthy habits (eating, smoking, shopping, etc.) I was crying when I read the part about the woman at the amusement park. I still don’t think I can even describe how I feel about this. My thoughts are all over the place and don’t make sense. At any rate, you should know that I love this post as much as I love the others because it is inspiring and makes me feel that maybe I can be better… Thanks Shola…You’re the bomb! 🙂

    • Hey Spring! First of all, what an incredibly real and transparent comment, my friend–thanks so much for sharing that. Believe me, you’re not alone. In many ways, I’m right there with you. Self-discipline is one of the hardest things to master, and I definitely haven’t mastered it yet (not by a long shot). Even though I’m able to rationalize “The Pain of Discipline vs. The Pain of Regret”, I’ll still slip up fairly often. The good news is that I’m getting better everyday, and each day I’m slipping up less and less. Self-discipline has always been my personal nemesis, but in the past year alone, I’ve come a VERY long way. I’m willing to bet that you’re doing much better than you’re giving yourself credit for too 😉

      Thanks as always for the kind words about the post, and thanks for the awesome comment!

    • {{{{{hugs}}}}} Spring. You sound like me in so many ways! I think we probably recognize that, and that is why we have become such good friends! It’s okay to not know how you feel… a couple of Shola’s posts have done that to me too. I have had to take a couple days, sometimes, to process them. I think it is a testament to how POWERFUL his words really are!

  3. As a person who has lived with chronic pain for 18 yrs, there is another type of pain–that from illness–but I understand that wasn’t the point of your post. Just sayin 😉

    I was “that woman” doing the walk of shame. But here’s how my story turned out….I rode a smaller rollercoaster later. The one I was denied was one of those supercoasters (thus the need for more restrictive restraints). An hour after riding the other coaster, I went blind in half of each eye.

    I got my vision back, my eye doc said it must have been my first ocular migraine.

    A week later, I got the migraine that wouldn’t go away. For years. Docs could not find a cause but all of them agreed it had to have been the rollercoaster. One even suggested it gave me microfractures that the multiple scans didn’t pick up. So if I had gone on the supercoaster–what would my outcome have been?

    Some things weren’t meant to be.

    Just a different viewpoint. 😉

    But I TOTALLY love your post–and I’ve signed up for your mailings (but wish you had posts by email *wink*)

    I’m here by way of your brother–congratulations on being a new uncle again 🙂

    • Hi Crafty Angel, you are totally right–I definitely wasn’t crossing into the realm of physical pain in my post, because I’m in no way qualified to address those types of issues. I’m very sorry to hear about your roller coaster situation, that sounds absolutely horrific. It’s very true that if you went on the supercoaster, the outcome could have been much worse–thankfully, that didn’t happen :). I really appreciate you for offering your viewpoint and thanks for the congrats on being a new uncle!

  4. Damn, damn, DAMN. It’s like this post was written for me. For most of my adult life, I lived with the pain of regret because I was too mentally soft to fight through the pain of discipline. It was so much easier for me to learn how deal and live with the pain of regret instead. Although my “never again” moment wasn’t as bad as the rollercoaster lady in your post, about a year ago, I overheard a girl that I really liked say “Eric is such a nice guy, but he’s too chubby for my taste.” It was at that moment that I dropped the Big Macs and fries and decided to deal with the pain of discipline for the first time. You’re right, it wasn’t easy at first, but each time I chose to feel the pain of discipline, it got less and less painful. There is always time to workout…there are full on workout programs you can do while sitting at your desk. I do have moments where I slip up, but that’s okay. Now I’m lightyears ahead of where I was a year ago. The best part is that I started the change because of some chick I didn’t know, and now I’m doing it for me. Thanks Shola, and I’m going to print out that Jim Rohn quote as a reminder when I feel like giving in.

    • Hey Eric! I’m so glad to hear that this post hit home for you. I absolutely love your point that each time you felt the pain of discipline, the pain became less and less painful. That is so true. Unfortunately, most people (myself included at one time) avoid the initial pain of getting started on their goal, without realizing that a much greater pain (Regret) is waiting for them if they don’t. Congrats on your progress Eric, and most importantly, congrats on making the big changes in your life for you and not for anyone else. Well done!

  5. Wow this was awesome.

    I’ve always been a huge advocate of putting in the hard work and hustling your ass off to get what you truly want. But I’ve struggled to articulate it this clearly. The pain of regret vs. the pain of discipline is perfect.

    I’ve had a few of the Never Again-type pains before and each one completely changed my life for the better. From how I treat my relationships to how I look at my work – I wouldn’t be where I am now without pain.

    This was a beautifully written post Shola. Loved it man.

    • Hey Kevin! I’m glad that you liked the post, my man. When I heard the Jim Rohn quote for the very first time (the Pain of Discipline vs the Pain of Regret), it completely changed my life. I mean, completely. Whenever I thought about quitting a goal or breaking a promise that I made to myself, I would always say to myself “the pain of discipline is temporary, but the pain of regret can last forever.”

      I absolutely love when you said that you wouldn’t be where you are without pain. I believe that pain is an incredibly effective teacher, and just like you, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am in my life without pain. I am so glad to hear that you’ve used the pain of Never Again to improve your relationships and your work, because far too many people wallow in the pain without using the pain to improve their situations. Thanks for the comment my man, and keep hustling!

  6. The quote says it all… Thank you again for you motivation! I’d much rather learn to be disciplined than live life full of regrets!

    “Discipline is tough, and something we may try to avoid. But in sports
    and in life, short-term pain is often the only path to long-term gain. In the heat of battle it is too late to prepare. Either you are ready for the challenges of life or you will be haunted by the “what ifs,” “if onlys,” and “I should’ves” that accompany the failure to be prepared. That’s the pain of regret.” ~ Bill Crowder

    • Valisa, I don’t know how you keep finding these epic quotes, but please keep them coming! It is so true–short-term pain is the most direct path to long-term gain. Self-discipline has always been a challenge for me, that’s why I keep the Jim Rohn quote nearby (and now, the Bill Crowder quote) for motivation. A life full of regrets is NOT for us!

  7. Hi Shola i know this was posted a year ago and i don’t know if you are still there, while i was reading this i realize im living a life of regret, im always thinking about “what could have been”. See when i finish reading this i set up my mind to workout not because i want to be fit (im super skinny) but because i want a live a long life, i don’t have a diet and i have never workout in my life, but every time i set up my mind to do something, there is a voice that says don’t do it, you don’t need to do it, and i just loose all my confidence and i know in my heart im not gonna do it, i don’t know how to beat that voice. maybe is fear, maybe i don’t have the confidence to go out and workout, maybe i am a shame of myself, i don’t know, i just know that the pain of regret is always with me and the pain of discipline i don’t think i have that in me.

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