There are a lot of cliche phrases out there and I used to hate them before I realized that if you can get over the cheesy element, there’s always a remaining element of truth to them. People are very quick to roll their eyes and laugh it off before considering that maybe they’ve heard the phrase a hundred times before because it’s true. Today, if I didn’t have cliche phrases to fall back on I’d have no hope for the future.
Here’s one you’ve heard before: Nothing good ever comes easy.
Sure, it’s easy to toss a couple pop tarts in the toaster for breakfast every morning, and pop tarts are very, very good, but they’re certainly not the best. It’s harder to cook a nutritious breakfast or stick to your fasting routine if you’re a bit hungry, but it’s better. If you take the easy breakfast route, you face the harder long term health route. I’m not here to say you can’t be healthy if you eat pop tarts, but I will say that you have to work harder to maintain a strong level of fitness if you have a poor diet compared to a healthy one.
Life is hard no matter how you slice it. Before you argue with me, I’m well aware of what you might say. In fact, I’ve listened to plenty of podcasts and read plenty of books trying to convince me that life is easy. One author is convinced that the definition of easy should simply be “something I can do”. If I can do it, it must be easy. I disagree, but I think I know where he’s coming from. It comes from another cliche phrase: If you think you can, you can. It’s a nice sentiment and a mindset that is endorsed by the father of personal development literature, Napoleon Hill, but you can’t just leave it at that. I’ve already said that there’s an element of truth to cliche sayings and here is no different. However, with this one, I’d make sure you know that just because you believe you can do something, it doesn’t mean that executing it will be easy. It might be simple, but it won’t be easy.
It’s just not easy to make all the right decisions, even when you can clearly distinguish the right from wrong move. Even when you know exactly what you should do, it can be very hard to do it. The decision is simple, but the action is far from easy. There’s an aspect of difficulty along every road leading to what you want, which can be a demoralizing thought. At the same time, there’s a simple redeeming idea that can change everything. You can choose your hard.
You know there’s difficulty in every journey, so choose your journey accordingly. Waking up early is hard. Putting in 10 hours is hard. Being out of shape is hard. Being in shape is hard. Missing your kid’s game is hard. Making every game is hard. Treating people how you want to be treated is hard. Being a jerk is hard. Choose your hard.
It’s not about taking the path of least resistance and avoiding hard scenarios, it’s about awareness of the path you’re setting yourself on and being intentional on which way you go. Practice looking forward into the path you’re on and seeing what hard situations are coming. Use that to guide your steps. Sometimes you’ll be forced to continue marching head on into a hurricane. Other times, you may be able to avoid the hurricane if you simply walk through the woods for a while. You might not like walking through the woods, but if it helps you avoid the hurricane, it’s probably worth it.
We all inevitably face some turbulence in our lives, so we better get used to it. I don’t mean we should accept life’s doom and retreat to a hole, I just mean practicing getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations would do us some good. If we choose a path (or a conversation, workout, morning alarm, job opportunity, new relationship, etc.) we know will be hard, we can’t afford to abandon our rational thinking and admit defeat. Life is too hard to not be good at being uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that seems to be a trait fewer and fewer people are holding on to.
The media does a phenomenal job of getting us to seek immediate gratification. We’re taught to abandon will power, forget about the future and indulge in whatever our hearts desire at any given moment. As a result, credit card debt and obesity (among other things) are more of a problem now than they’ve ever been. The reason is because it’s hard not to succumb to the media we can’t help but be exposed to. Did you watch the Super Bowl? Every single commercial tempts us to spend money or consume calories. Every single one! It’s hard not to get sucked in, but it’s a lot harder pay off a growing credit card bill when your salary doesn’t grow with it. It’s hard to eat a decent meal with Super Bowl commercials swirling in your head, but it’s harder dealing with constant bloating and shortness of breath after walking for 5 minutes. You have to consciously choose which hard you’d rather endure.
There are endless examples of decisions that impact how hard your life will be and I’ll get to some more of those when I write my book, but for now I want to leave you with a recommendation. Take the hard path today so that tomorrow’s path is easier. Ask yourself what you can do in the next hour that will make the following 23 a little less hard. Don’t sacrifice tomorrow for the sake of an easy day today.