David Goggins – Can’t Hurt Me Challenges

April 15, 2019 productievekennis 10 min read 40 Comments
Image David Goggins - Can't Hurt Me Challenges

David Goggins – Can’t Hurt Me Challenges

April 15, 2019 WhatDisciplineMeans 10 min read 40 Comments

‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins is a book full of applicable challenges. In this blog, I will summarize all challenges David Goggins wrote down in his book:

  1. Bad Hand Challenge
  2. The Accountability Mirror Challenge
  3. Calloused Mind Challenge
  4. Taking Souls Challenge
  5. Armored Mind Challenge
  6. The Cookie Jar Challenge
  7. The 40 Percent Rule Challenge
  8. Schedule Challenge
  9. Become Uncommon Amongst The Uncommon Challenge
  10. Empowerment Of Failure Challenge

Each one of those challenges is a strategy which you can apply to your own life. The book itself is of course filled with way more value than I can possibly cover. I highly advice you buy the book yourself if you feel inspired after reading the next ten challenges of Can’t Hurt Me.

1. Bad Hand

In the first chapter of Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins wrote a lot about his past and the hand he was dealt. His bad cards arrived early in life and stuck around for a while. However, he beat all of those bad cards and challenges.

The first challenge is to write down the bad hand you were dealt in life. What kind of stuff did you contend with growing up? Did you get bullied? Were you insecure because of something? Or maybe you grew up being so supported and comfortable that you never pushed yourself?

Write down every one of those situations. Write the current factors down that are limiting your growth and success. Is someone standing in your way at work or at school? What are the long odds you are up against right now? Write all of those things down. And do it extensively. It will not be a fun challenge, but it will be a challenge that is worthwhile.

Just take inventory of everything and do not think about what you need to do with all of that confronting information. We will get to that in the next few challenges. For now, just accept it and be aware that you are in total control of where you will be heading. Even if you got dealt a really bad hand.

2. The Accountability Mirror

The second challenge of Can’t Hurt Me, is called ‘The Accountability Mirror’. All you need for this challenge is a pen and Post-It notes.

David Goggins tacked Post-It notes on his mirror. He wrote all his insecurities, dreams, and goals on Post-Its. You should do the same. Take your pen out. Start writing down all your insecurities, dreams and goals and tag up your mirror.

If you need more education, write down that you need to start working harder because you are not smart enough.
If you need an athletic goal, write down: my first 5k, my first 10k, my first marathon.

It does not matter what you write down, you just need to be clear about it. Point blank. Be truthful with yourself while you tag your mirror up. Be aware of where you are right now and what the necessary steps are that you must take to achieve those goals.

Each step, each necessary point of self-improvement should be written as its own note. So, you need to break down all your big goals into smaller goals. Once you have tagged your mirror up, you can get to work. If you achieved a goal, you remove the note. Then, you can write down the next step of that process and tag it up.

It does not matter what goal you are working on, you just need to keep yourself accountable. That is it. Self-improvement takes self-discipline. You need to be dedicated. The Accountability Mirror is going to reveal that truth to you every day. Stop ignoring it. Use it to your advantage.

3. Calloused Mind

The third challenge of Can’t Hurt Me, is the challenge that will help you develop a Calloused Mind. What is that exactly? Well, a Calloused Mind is a mind that is used to discomfort. A mind that can overcome resistance.

Grab your pen again. Start writing down all the things you hate to do. This can be big things, but try to focus more on the small things you hate to do. You can think about stuff like doing the dishes, making your bed, meditating for 10 minutes, or something else. Really get to the micro-level of things.

Doing things – even small things – that make you uncomfortable will help make you strong. The more often you get uncomfortable the stronger you will become, and soon you will develop a can-do mindset. A Calloused Mind.

David Goggins Can't Hurt Me Challenges

4. Taking Souls

The fourth challenge sounds dark. Well, maybe it is. But one thing is for sure. Taking Souls is one of the most gratifying challenges out of Can’t Hurt Me.

Choose any competitive situation that you are in right now. Who is your opponent? Is it your boss? Is it your teacher? A family member? No matter how they are treating you there is one way to not only earn their respect, but turn the tables.

David Goggins wants you to think about these situations. Whatever it is, he wants you to work harder on that project or in that class than you ever have before. Do everything exactly as someone asks and surpass their ideal outcome.

Check out the hardest worker in the room and work harder. Check out who is training with the most intensity in the gym and go beyond that person.

If it something with your boss, work around the clock. Get to work before them. Leave after they go home. Make sure they see that, and when it is time to deliver, surpass their maximum expectations.

Whoever you are dealing with, your goal is to make them watch you achieve what they could never do themselves. Take their negativity and use it to dominate their task with everything you have got. Take their soul.

5. Armored Mind

The fifth challenge is all about visualization. Something that you might not expect from a book like Can’t Hurt Me.

In Can’t Hurt me, David Goggins explains that when he engages in any challenging activity, he first paints a picture of what his success looks and feels like. He thinks about it every day and that feeling propels him forward. Visualization is the key to an Armored Mind.

Visualization is not simply about daydreaming of some trophy ceremony. It is also about visualizing the challenges that are likely to arise and determine how you will attack those problems when they do. That way you can be as prepared as possible on the journey.

Besides that, you should also be prepared to ask simple, yet meaningful, questions. Why are you doing this? Where does the darkness you are using as fuel come from? What has calloused your mind? You need to have the answers to those questions at your fingertips. Because sometimes during your journey the answers to these questions will determine you achieving your goals or not.

Remember, visualization will never compensate for work. But it can help you to envision your future and the challenges it brings.

6. The Cookie Jar

For the sixth challenge it is time to crack your journal open again. You are going to take inventory for your Cookie Jar.

The Cookie Jar is a challenge that is all about your great achievements. Take your pen out again. Write down all the things you have achieved. Also write down the life obstacles you have overcome as well, like breaking a bad habit or beating depression or a stutter. Add in those minor tasks you failed earlier in your life but tried again and succeeded. Feel what it was to overcome those struggles.

David Goggins explains the way he uses The Cookie Jar. He does this by setting ambitious goals. This can be before each workout or anything else in life. He just sets the ambitious goals and let his past carry him to new personal bests. When David Goggins starts to experience the pain of working on the goal, he cracks open his cookie jar. He takes a cookie out, and let it fuel him!

You should do the same. Set your goals. Make them even more ambitious and challenging. Then it is time to get after it. Once you experience the resistance of working on the goal, take out one of your cookies. Experience the fuel that you will get from that and keep hammering.

David Goggins Can't Hurt Me Challenges

7. The 40 Percent Rule

In the seventh challenge David Goggins states that we all life of about 40 percent of what we are capable of. He is sure that we all have a governor on our brain. It is time to remove that governor.

To remove the governor of your brain that is holding you back from all the things you can actually do, you have to force yourself into discomfort. Once again. The next time you are doing a physical activity, like running on the treadmill, keep going to the point where you are so tired and experience so much pain that your brain begs you to stop. Then push just 5 to 10 percent further.

If you normally run 10 miles per session, run 11 miles. If you do 50 Push-Ups in a workout, do 105 or 110. This gradual ramp-up will prevent injury while at the same time allow your body and mind to slowly adapt to your new workload.

Once you have applied it, it is also important to reset your baseline. If you did 110 Push-Ups instead of 100, 110 is now your new baseline. So, the next session you will be doing 5 to 10 percent of 110.

By applying the 40 Percent Rule you will become aware of what David Goggins means with the fact that there is a governor on your brain. You will become aware of the fact that you are underperforming a lot. Not only in your workouts, but maybe also at work or school.

Apply The 40 Percent Rule. Start the process of removing that governor on your brain.

8. Scheduele

The eight challenge of Can’t Hurt Me starts of with a three week challenge. It is time to compartmentalize your day!

David Goggins lays out the following format: In week one, go about your normal schedule, but take notes. When do you work? What times are you on your phone? Watching tv? Commuting? Meal breaks? He wants you to write this all down very detailed with time-stamps.

Once you have written this out for a week, you will have your baseline. Looking at your baseline you will probably realize that you waste many hours a day. Now it is up to you to not only identify, but also utilize this waste.

In week two David Goggins wants you to build an optimal schedule. Lock everything into place in fifteen- tot thirty-minute blocks. Some tasks will take multiple blocks which is fine. Just make sure that you focus on the current time-block. When you work, only work. When you eat dinner with your family, only eat dinner with your family. When you are working out, only work out. When you have finished a task, you move onto the next one with the same focus.

By week three, you should have a schedule that is maximizing your effort without sacrificing your sleep.

9. Become Uncommon Amongst The Uncommon

The ninth challenge is all about going above and beyond everything and everyone else. It is about becoming Uncommon Amongst The Uncommon.

A lot of people think that once they reach a certain level of status or success they have made it. They become content and stop growing. David Goggins is here to tell you that you always have to find more. Greatness does not something that stays with you forever once you have achieved it. You have to earn it. Every day.

It is easy to stand out amongst the average joe. What is harder is to stand out amongst great people. If you want to become Uncommon Amongst The Uncommon you have to find your ways to always put out unending effort. If you want to become an overachiever, you have to burn every desire of complacency.

Continue to challenge yourself, because that is where you will find the friction that will help you grow even stronger. If you keep doing that, you will be standing out alone before you even know it.

David Goggins Can't Hurt Me Challenges

10. Empowerment Of Failure

The tenth challenge of Can’t Hurt Me is an evaluation of applying the nine challenges before. It is about finding the Empowerment Of Failure.

Grab your pen again. It is time to write out your biggest failures during the application of the first nine challenges.

Start off by writing out all the good things, everything that went well, from your failures. Be detailed and generous with yourself. Ask yourself questions while writing down everything that went well from your failures. How did you handle the failure? Did it affect your life? How so? How did you plan this out? What were you thinking about during the execution?

You have to evaluate each step of the failure, so that you can learn from it. Forcing yourself to evaluate your failures in detail will give you perspective on your mindset and execution. From there, you can see what you need to change or improve.

Once you have written the failures down, it is time to make a list of things you can fix. This is not the time to be soft or generous. Be brutally honest. Write them all out. Then, grab your calendar and schedule the tasks you need to execute.

During the application of the tenth challenge David Goggins advises you use the strategies from the past nine challenges. Consult your Accountability Mirror and adjust it with the next goals. When you are going to execute on it, keep everything in mind about the Calloused Mind. If you are facing hardship, you can grab a cookie out of your Cookie Jar. Keep the 40% rule in the front of your mind and think about that governor that needs to be changed. Control your mindset. Dominate your thought process. And if you fail, you try again.

Applying the challenges of Can’t Hurt Me

After reading all of those challenges David Goggins wrote down in Can’t Hurt Me, it is time for you to start applying. My advice would be to start with the Accountability Mirror first. It is really practical and a fast way to gain momentum. Once you are in the zone of working on your goals, you can start applying all the challenges from 1 to 9.

Execute challenge 1 to 9 for about a month. Then, re-read challenge 10 of Can’t Hurt Me, and start evaluating. This will help you repeat the process and keep evolving.

If you want more strategies for developing self-discipline, check out my blog post about: 15 Effective Ways To Develop Self-Discipline.


  • Kristian Lofts July 3, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    I appreciate David Goggins incredible armoured mind and what he can teach the masses.

    PS. I think you may have misspelt fifteen- tot thirty-

    • WhatDisciplineMeans July 4, 2019 at 8:10 pm

      Appreciate you connecting through the comment section. Goggins philosophy on life is solid indeed. Thanks for your feedback, will fix it. Have a productive week bud!

  • Adam S August 24, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Thanks so much for this. I listened to the audiobook and it was amazing. Let’s get after it ; ]

    • WhatDisciplineMeans August 25, 2019 at 10:41 am

      You are welcome :). Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Have a productive day!

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      Woahhh, appreciate the kind words! Thank you for taking the time to check out my entire blog :). Have a productive week!

  • Keith September 16, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Great write up of the challenges from the book. I listened to the audiobook and didn’t write the challenges down so it was great to find your site. I’m currently working my way through applying the challenges to three areas of my life

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    • WhatDisciplineMeans September 25, 2019 at 3:30 am

      Glad to hear! Awesome man, keep hammering at your goals and have a productive week 🙂

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  • Mac December 4, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks so much for posting these! Just started the audio book yesterday and wanted to start the challenges.

    • WhatDisciplineMeans March 17, 2020 at 4:55 pm

      I heard the audio book is awesome as well, because of the dialog. Still need to check it out though. Appreciate the feedback and get after it, Mac!

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    Thanks for taking the time to summarize the Challenges from David’s book. I can see you have some other gems on here and I will be back to check those out.

    • WhatDisciplineMeans March 17, 2020 at 4:56 pm

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      Appreciate it. Thank you! Have a productive week 🙂

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    Hello there, i have been struggling all my life to be a better me. ever since i turn 30 i have been holding myself accountable and paying attention to the things i do. Recently i heard a friend talking about David goggins and decided to incorporate his methods in my life. i have more research to do and excited to learn more thank you very much.

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      Appreciate your message! David Goggins book (and content on Youtube) is a great way to get things going. I recommend reading his book. You should also check out Jocko Willink. Stay hard and keep hammering!

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