4 Ways Good Friends Can Get You Through Anything (+ 5 Things to Commit to)

4 Ways Good Friends Can Get You Through Anything (+ 5 Things to Commit to)
Presented by Spartan Training®

Sick of giving up on your goals? Studies show that you’re 65% more likely to meet a goal once you've committed to doing it alongside someone else – even something as daunting as a Spartan or Tough Mudder race. If you're still not sure whether you have what it takes, use these four science-backed facts to convince your closest friends to commit to conquering something hard together. 

There are so many things we can do alone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still strength in numbers.

One of the main reasons that people fall short of their goals or don't follow through on commitments is that they aren't being held accountable. When the going gets tough, sure, lots of people lack the strength to hold themselves accountable. That's where social accountability come in. In one study, the American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65% more likely to meet a goal once they've committed to doing it with someone else. (You're also 95% more likely to achieve something if you have a date on the calendar by which it must be done.)

So, here are four reasons why you should grab a few friends, choose a date, and commit to something hard (plus five tough challenges you can sign up for or commit to right now).

It's easier than ever to build your Spartan team, and doing so keeps you committed pre- and post-race. You can create or join a team at any point, giving you ultimate flexibility but holding you accountable even before you pick your race date and location.

Why You Should Join a Team and Exercise With Friends

1. Teamwork Enhances Your Capacity for Bravery

If you typically do difficult things — and if you’re a Spartan, you do — you’re familiar with the notion that talking yourself up to the task is more than half of the battle. But according to Spartan’s Chief Mind Doc Lara Pence, building up the courage to take on tough challenges can be chemically expedited by getting others on board with you. 

Why You Should Join a Team

“Being a part of a team can stimulate the release of oxytocin, a powerful chemical that enhances the experience of trust and connection,” Pence, a licensed clinical psychologist, says. “When we trust others and feel more connected, we are more likely to try things that we may not typically try. So in essence, teamwork enhances our capacity for bravery.”

Feeling external encouragement from others during maximal exercise testing — a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can use while performing intense exercise — has been found to have tremendous benefits for individuals. It doesn’t decrease the feeling of being uncomfortable or make the task easier, but it does help participants feel more confident and capable in their ability to persevere.

2. Working With Others Forces You to Self-Reflect and Grow

Joining a team or being on the hook for meeting your friend every morning at 5 a.m. for a run might sound like it’s all about other people, but it can also be an incredibly introspective process. 

“When you are part of a team or a partnership, you expose yourself to individuals who are stronger, faster, and fitter than you, and those that you are stronger, faster, and fitter than,” Pence says. “This is an excellent exercise in reminding yourself that all different kinds of people are capable of all different kinds of success.”

Sarah Goldman, Program Director for the North Carolina Outward Bound School's Professional and Virtual Programs, designs and facilitates day programs, wilderness expeditions, and virtual programs for adult teams — businesses, organizations, leadership groups, etc. — that utilize challenges to, in her words, “make them figure their s*** out.” Even though the programs are devised as group trials, Goldman says she sees Pence’s statement on self-reflection play out daily. 

Why You Should Join a Team

“Outward Bound courses — or any challenging activities — act as mirrors for us,” Goldman says. “They let us see ourselves in a very different light and, honestly, oftentimes that is a very objective, unforgiving light. You’re reminded of your strengths, but it also shines a light on blind spots and lets folks see where there’s opportunities for growth and to better themselves.”

Related: This Is the Formula to Turn Struggle Into Growth

Everyone has room for growth and change. So, if you feel like you’re at a stalemate in life or just strive to be constantly improving, join a team of diverse individuals with different skill sets and decide who in the group you’d like to be more (or less) like. 

3. Accountability Partners Create Healthy Competition and Collaboration

Social facilitation is a concept that suggests that individuals are more likely to complete a task or perform better in the presence of others. Imagine you commit to running an Ultra by the end of the year. Are you more likely to get serious about your nutrition, train harder, and crush the race if you commit silently in your head, or if you tell the entire town? You can apply this principle to any area of your life.

Why You Should Join a Team

“A few factors may contribute to the data on social facilitation,” Pence says. “Individuals often fear judgment in the presence of others and are more likely to work hard for success if their success — or failure — is made public. So, when individuals are in a group and encourage each other, they are more likely to experience the positive benefits of encouragement and succeed.”

Related: Competition Is the Greatest Drug in the World

Not only will the presence of other people likely optimize your own performance — as individuals within the team compete to appear superior or prove their capability — but Goldman stresses that even if your performance is faltering and you find yourself having an absolutely terrible time, that state will be more temporary in a team, as other members’ energy helps to balance out your own.

“There are times when you feel low, but that will pass and you will feel better,” Goldman says. “What’s amazing when you work in teams is that when somebody is at their low point and really struggling, often somebody else is doing great. Then they are in that temporary spot of feeling good, and they can lift others up.”

4. Doing Hard Things Together Builds Unbreakable Bonds

If you run hill sprints with a friend four days a week, you probably have a much deeper bond with that person than you do with someone with whom you spend time watching movies. But do you ever wonder why that is? 

“When you exercise, endorphins are released,” Pence says. “Endorphins are those chemicals that create that ‘runner's high’ feeling, but endorphins also help strengthen our connection to people around us. So when you engage in an activity as a group, you feel more connected to others and you are more primed for a positive social experience.”

Why You Should Join a Team

Jon Levy, a behavioral scientist and the author of You’re Invited, says that the more time, effort, and hard-earned endorphins you devote to creating and nurturing human connections, the more you’ll value — and trust — those connections.

“Human beings have this characteristic that builds trust called the IKEA Effect, which is that we care disproportionately more about anything we put effort into or partially assemble,” Levy says. “When we participate in a team, it actually allows us to invest effort into one another and create deeper and more meaningful connections.

Related: This Is Why Human Connection Is Critical to Your Success and Longevity

“As you’re going under barbed wire as a team and you’re doing all of these difficult things, there are inevitably moments of vulnerability,” Levy says. “When we can express vulnerability and have it be reciprocated, that’s how trust builds. A Spartan team has a greater chance of forming deeper and more meaningful levels of trust faster, because they go through difficult situations together.” 

Initiating vulnerability loops, then, doesn’t mean that your teammates accept your weakness each time that you declare it. It simply means that they are comfortable enough to say to you, “I know you’re stronger than that,” so that even when — not if — things get tough, those unbreakable bonds will get you through it.

5 Things to Commit to Right Now

1. Sign up for a gym membership.

2. Sign up for your first DEKA FIT event.

3. Sign up for the SoCal Spartan Event Weekend.

4. Sign up for the Las Vegas Spartan Event Weekend.

5. Sign up for the Tough Mudder Atlanta Weekend

Upcoming Spartan Race Schedule