Three reasons to do a Misogi and what I learned from doing one


Reading time: 4 minutes

What you’ll learn

  • What is a “misogi”?

  • How to set up your annual challenge

  • Three reasons why it’ll change you as a person

We breathe in the clean, crisp air of Lake Tahoe.  Five seconds in, five seconds out. Keep breathing.

A voice yells out over the microphone: “Spartans, are you ready?”

A resounding “AROO, AROO, AROO!” comes barking out from me and fifty others at the starting line.

I give a fist bump to my three friends joining me on this psychotic voyage and we take off to climb the mountain.

Let’s take a step back.

How did I discover the misogi?

It’s a Thursday night.  Most people that I know are relaxing: watching sports at a bar, hanging out with friends or enjoying a nice meal.  I’m cooped up in my room listening to a conference call.

I’m in the midst of an eight-week course run by Jesse Itzler, entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner and current owner of the Atlanta Hawks.  The course is titled “Build Your Life Resume” and Itzler uses his unique and impressive history to help others push their limits and reach goals with business, fitness, family & life.  

“I call it a misogi”, says Itzler.  Previously a Japanese practice of purification, Itzler interprets it a bit differently.  “Put one big thing on the calendar that scares you, that you never thought you could do, and go out and do it.”  

Hm.  I like that.  I like that a lot.  I decided to research.

I found out this was an actual “thing”.  

Itzler had learned the practice from former Hawks player, Kyle Korver.  This article has a great breakdown of how Korver uses this day each year to take on challenges that radically expand his sense of what’s possible.

Wait, what is a misogi?

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About five hours and thirty-four minutes after our “AROO” chant, the misogi was over.  We climbed to the top of Squaw Mountain at over 9,000 feet above sea level (twice), swam in 40-degree water, carried sandbags and buckets of rocks up hills, climbed ropes, and flipped tires.  

After 13.5 excruciating miles with 34 obstacles, we crossed the finish line as a unit.

The misogi for 2018 was over.  Overriding the pain of the race was the pride we felt in our accomplishment.  

One of the best feelings I’ve ever had.

Regardless of your fitness level, this is something you can (and should) do next year.

Three reasons to do a misogi

ONE: Defeat Fear

I’m deathly afraid of heights - I don’t like bridges, roofs or anything where a fall might happen.  I decided that I’m sick of that fear. Luckily (or unluckily), this Spartan Race had at least a dozen obstacles where the only way through is to climb to a dizzying height and back down.  And the funny thing, once I got over the first few I felt my fear diminish with each ensuing height I encountered.

TWO: Train Hard

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, in your everyday routine.  Setting a massive goal for yourself changes this. It forces you to train for the situation you’re putting your body and mind through and keeps you more engaged in the gym, running trail, pool, etc.

THREE: Redefine What’s Possible

Look, I’m far from a professional athlete.  To put times in perspective, our finish was almost 3x longer than the winner of the race.  But that’s not important. We weren’t sure we could do this when we signed up. But we committed, pushed each other, dug deep and got the job done.  

Now, my mindset is completely different about what’s possible.  And that’s the true beauty of the misogi, of putting something massive on your calendar once a year.  You may succeed, you may fail, but you will definitely push the boundary of what you thought was possible and change as a person.  And for me, that’s more than enough.

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Personal Next Steps

I hope this inspired you to take out the calendar for next year and look up ideas for your misogi.

I promise that you will be a much different person afterwards than you are today.  

..And if you have any good ideas, let me know.  I’m in planning mode for 2019.

Main Takeaways

  • Outcome goals are our big, long-term, results-based goals, such as losing weight, or making the university team.

  • Process are the how-to goals which lead up to or increase our chances of reaching the outcome.

  • Before a game or competition focus on the three process goals that will get you to your outcome.

About the Author

Tom Alaimo is the Founder of Millennial Momentum, a media company obsessed with millennial personal development.  Connect with him on any of the below social channels.

Website: Podcast: iTunes
Twitter: @TommyTahoe
Instagram: @TommyTahoe

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