How “The Cookie Jar Method” Can Help You Push Through Challenges

Noelle Ihli

How “The Cookie Jar Method” Can Help You Push Through Challenges 

Can’t Hurt Me Author David Goggins Shares a Unique Approach to Overcoming Adversity

Author, athlete, and motivational speaker, David Goggins grew up in poverty. At times, his mother struggled to make ends meet. Yet, despite their challenges, Goggins always knew that if he needed a pick-me-up, he would find a treat in the cookie jar at the end of the day. 

As a child, Goggins treasured these treats. Knowing that a small, special delicacy was waiting for him was enough to keep him going during difficult times.

As Goggins grew up, that cookie jar became a metaphor for mental reserves of hope and positivity in the face of adversity. He says, “In that cookie jar, I pull out whatever I need for the task at hand.” 

Read on to learn how to put Goggin’s Cookie Jar Method to work in your life. 

How to Apply the Cookie Jar Method 

The Cookie Jar Method is pretty simple. It involves creating a reservoir of victories, positive affirmations, and accomplishments to reach for whenever you feel tired or discouraged. Like the sweet sugar rush from an actual cookie, these quick “bites” of positivity can energize and motivate you to keep going during challenging times. 

Put the Cookie Jar Method to work in your life with these three steps: 

  1. Create Your Cookie Jar

Your “Cookie Jar” can take any physical form that allows you to write down a list of small achievements and personal victories. Goggins recommends a journal, but you can also use a reminder app on your phone, a Trello board, or a stack of sticky notes.

The goal is to create a reservoir of evidence that reminds you of your internal power and potential to succeed. 

  1. Fill Your Cookie Jar

It’s time to fill your jar. Start by writing down a list of twenty accomplishments or memories of times when you felt triumphant and optimistic. These moments could be major or minor - for example, finishing a 5K, nailing a presentation at work, or seeing a creative project through from concept to completion. The size of the accomplishment doesn’t matter. What seems easy for one person might be momentous to another. All that matters is that you recognize and record your ability to persevere, overcome adversity, and succeed. 

  1. Reach for Those Cookies

Anytime you need a pick-me-up, grab your Cookie Jar and sit with a couple of the experiences and memories you wrote down. Then, bring yourself back to the feelings of strength and accomplishment that fueled you through adversity before. 

As you digest those positive memories, you should be rewarded with a sweet burst of confidence that you can succeed in the present, just like you succeeded in the past. Let that energy push you to keep going!  

When to Use the Cookie Jar Method

Now that you know how to build and fill your Cookie Jar let’s get into a few situations that might prompt you to dig in! 

When You Feel Discouraged or Doubt Yourself

Reach into your Cookie Jar anytime you doubt your abilities or strengths. Goggins says, “Whenever you feel down, you need to go down in the cookie jar and remember who you really are. You are not the weak person your mind may be trying to tell you you are; you are the person that has survived tough times in the past.”

When You Feel Tired

Sometimes fatigue, not self-doubt, is the enemy of persistence. When you get physically tired, your brain snaps into action and insists that you rest – this move is one of self-preservation, and it has advantages from an evolutionary perspective. However, most of the time, you’re physically capable of far more than your mind would have you believe. 

Whether you’ve been grinding on a long-term work project or training for a marathon, it can be tempting to give up in the home stretch. In those cases, a “cookie” can motivate you to put one foot in front of the other just long enough to reach the finish line. 

When You’re Facing a Daunting New Challenge

Your “cookies” can be a powerful reminder that you’ve conquered challenges in the past and can do so again – even if you’re trying something new. A difficult moment is a difficult moment, regardless of the specific circumstances. So the next time you hit an obstacle you don’t recognize, reach into your Cookie Jar for the confidence that you have what it takes to succeed. 

Like an actual cookie jar, your collection of positive memories and experiences can offer energy and a sweet reward as you persist through challenges. Consider what experiences you might add to your Cookie Jar. Then, share one of your cookies with us on Twitter using #CantHurtMe.

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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