10 Great David Goggins Challenges From Can’t Hurt Me

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When you are looking for a resource with a roadmap and the motivation you need to be inspired to dig deeper into yourself than you ever thought possible in athletics or life at large, David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me has to be one of the absolute best books to turn to.

Written by former Navy SEAL, champion endurance athlete, and all-around badass, David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me presents lessons about life, building mental and physical resilience, athletics, overcoming obstacles, pain, and achieving greatness interwoven with his own personal stories of his epic life. 

But Can’t Hurt Me isn’t just an inspiring read with quotable lines and takeaways that will stick with you for years; it’s also an actionable manual for changing your life.

In his book, Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins presents readers with 10 Goggins challenges that are designed to help you overcome different obstacles in your life—both—mental or physical—so you can achieve goals you never thought possible and live the life you have dreamed of.

In this article, we share the 10 great Goggins challenges in Can’t Hurt Me to help you dig deep, be your best self, and live your greatest life.

If you’re looking for a guide to the crazy-ass 4x4x48 challenge that David Goggins has completed, our 4x4x48 survival guide has been used by hundreds of runners.

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #1 Face Your Bad Hand
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #2 Create Your Accountability Mirror
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #3 Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #4 Beat Your Opponent
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #5 Visualize Success
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #6 Stock Your Cookie Jar
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #7 Overcome Your Governor
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #8 Schedule Your Time
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #9 Dare to Be Great
  • Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #10 Learn from Your Failure

Let’s commit to achieving success! 

A chalkboard with the words "Success, go get it" written on it.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #1 Face Your Bad Hand

Although David Goggins is all about dropping the BS, taking accountability, and letting go of excuses, the first Can’t Hurt Me challenge David Goggins poses is to recall all the possible factors that made your life hard growing up.

Goggins shares the painful stories of the “bad hand” he was dealt in his own upbringing, growing up with an abusive father. 

The purpose of Goggins sharing his own personal struggles isn’t to garner sympathy nor justify other future difficulties in his life, but rather to show that it’s completely possible to overcome horrific things.

After all, David Goggins rose from a difficult childhood and became a champion athlete, formidable Navy Seal, and world-renowned motivational writer and speaker.

The first Can’t Hurt Me challenge is to physically write down everything that contributes to the “bad hand” you were dealt in life, answering the question Goggins prompts: “What kind of bullshit did you deal with growing up?” 

A person writing in their journal.

Detail each historical factor and then expand your list to present-day factors that are limiting your growth and success. The challenge lies in being honest with yourself and facing past and present pains.

While it might seem like making a list of your hardships is a fast-track to absolving yourself of responsibility, acknowledging that you’ve overcome difficult circumstances in the past can give you strength and confidence that you can overcome future challenges.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #2 Create Your Accountability Mirror

The second challenge David Goggins poses in Can’t Hurt Me is to create an “accountability mirror.”

This mirror is designed to keep your awareness on your goals and to break bigger goals into smaller, manageable steps.

For this one of David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me challenges, write down all of your goals and dreams in individual Post-It notes and stick them all around one mirror so that you constantly see them.

A variety of colorful post it notes on a wall.

When you achieve one of the goals, remove it from your accountability mirror and update it with the next goal.

For example, if your current 5k PR is 25 minutes and you ultimately want to break 21 minutes, write 24:30 on a Post-It note and affix it to your mirror.

After you achieve the goal, remove the Post-It note and replace it with 24:00 and so on, until you meet the ultimate goal.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #3 Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Achieving your goals often requires a level of discomfort or facing very unaffordable situations.

David Goggins believes in “callusing the mind,” which is essentially building mental resilience to handle stressful situations and physical or mental pain.

The third David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me challenge is to grab your journal and write down a comprehensive list of the things that make you feel uncomfortable or that are hard for you.

This challenge is all about facing your fears and getting outside of your comfort zone.

Once you have your list, Goggins tasks you with doing at least one thing on your list every day. This will help develop a “can-do” attitude when facing challenges and will help build a “calloused mind.”

A framed sign that says "you can do it".

​​Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #4 Beat Your Opponent

Goggins uses a technique he developed to help him survive Hell Week of Navy SEAL training to generate the fifth challenge in Can’t Hurt Me—the ability to overcome opponents.

We all have doubters or opponents, whether a manager, teacher, coworker, or unsupportive family member.

In this Can’t Hurt Me challenge, identify a perceived opponent or doubter, and work as hard as possible to prove them wrong, besting their standards and expectations and using their negativity to fuel your derive and eventual success.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #5 Visualize Your Success

A significant part of achieving success is visualizing yourself being successful and believing you can be. 

Visualizing success isn’t just about seeing yourself triumphant, but also visualizing and overcoming potential challenges along the way.

By imagining possible obstacles, you will “be as prepared as you possibly can be.” Moreover, by mentally preparing to suffer through hard parts en route to your goal, you will develop a “can’t hurt me” attitude.

A person at a desk raising their fists with the feeling of success.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #6 Stock Your Cookie Jar

To achieve great things and reach truly impressive goals, you’re going to face obstacles. It’s how you deal with the obstacles that will determine if you ultimately succeed or give up and fail.

In other words, do you “fight” and push through or do you choose “flight,’ and give up?

Goggins believes that pain is a reward because it’s a reminder that you’ve actually accomplished something.

In this Can’t Hurt Me Challenge, you will create a metaphorical cookie jar—a written list of all of the accomplishments you’ve achieved in your whole life.

Each accomplishment serves as a “cookie.”

In your quest towards current goals, when the going gets tough, you can pull inspiration from your list, taking a metaphorical “cookie” as a treat or reminder that you can do hard things.

A silhouette of a person on a ledge, kicking the "im" off of the word impossible.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #7 Override Your Governor

Some runners may have heard of the central governor theory, a concept used in reference to mental willpower in the face of physical challenges.

In other words, our own minds often limit what we can physically achieve because the “governor” in our mind convinces us that we are “too tired,” “too weak,” “too inexperienced,” etc.

Goggins believes the governor in our mind usually allows us to operate at only 40% of our true performance capacity.

In this one of David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me challenges, you are tasked with overthrowing your mental governor by ignoring the mental chatter trying to convince you to stop or ease up.

Goggins asks you to “push past your normal stopping point,” ignoring the mind games to gradually do more and more.

This David Goggins challenge not only will help you achieve more because you’re pushing harder, but it will also teach you to ignore self doubt on any future endeavors because you’re better than your mind tries to convince you of.

A chalkboard with the words "comfort zone" and a circle, with shoes stepping out of the zone.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #8 Schedule Your Time

One excuse people make is counting themselves out of being capable of accomplishing something because they don’t have “special talents.”

Goggins says anyone can do anything as long as you schedule your time and diligently practice every day.

This great David Goggins challenge takes three weeks.

In week one, create your baseline schedule by writing down every single thing you do in full detail, including timestamps.

In the second week, create your “optimal schedule” by placing everything you need and want to do into one or more 15 or 30-minute time blocks, again with timestamps.

A key here is compartmentalization. Only focus on the task at hand when you are in that time block.

In the third week, you should be able to follow your new, optimal schedule, which will maximize your efficiency and remove wasted time.

A person at a desk raising their fists with the feeling of success.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #9 Dare to Be Great

This Can’t Hurt Me challenge is to stay in “constant pursuit” of greatness. Strive to be an overachiever. Commit to having an “unending effort” to be the best of the best no matter what.

Can’t Hurt Me Goggins Challenges: #10 Learn From Your Failures

In the final David Goggins challenge in Can’t Hurt Me, you will reflect on what you’ve learned from your failures.

Jot down all your failures in your journal and detail all the lessons you’ve learned from those failures and how you handled them.

Then, go through the list and create new goals based on what you can fix based on the lessons you learned from your failures.

Schedule out attempts to try and achieve these goals and place each of them on your accountability mirror. 

Use your “can’t hurt me” attitude to dismantle every obstacle and crush your biggest goals and loftiest dreams.

If you are enjoying David Goggin’s way of living your best life, check out our article containing 50 of his best motivational quotes!

A silhouette of a person at sunset flexing their biceps.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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