Why You Should Do Hard Things
We only live one life. The quality of our lives and our character is a result of the deliberate actions we take every day, whether we realise this or not.
Each day, we're presented with choices. Some choices might take us along the 'easy path' requiring very little thought. For example, we might choose to work in a normal 9-5 job because it's comfortable, it provides money and it's secure. We might choose to spend our evenings watching Netflix or bingeing YouTube because it's a nice mind-numbing alternative to the busy lives we might normally live in the daytime.
In short, we can choose to follow the path of least resistance because it's what is easy, convenient and comfortable. The 'easy' path sure is lucrative. We don't need to do much and can simply live a 'normal life'.
But let's stop for a moment and think. What are you sacrificing by doing what is 'easy'? The short answer is 'a lot'. You're sacrificing your character, your development and your life.
This is no exaggeration.
Why Should You Do Hard Things
A Lesson From JFK
Let us start with a quote from former American President John F. Kennedy:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Putting a man on the moon was by no means an easy task but look at what precipitated from it. Firstly, it was a source of achievement for the American people to see their fellow countrymen explore the frontiers of space. But most importantly, it forced people in society to push themselves to do something 'great'. They made new discoveries, learnt from failures and ultimately propelled the trajectory of space travel forward in the process.
In sum, doing 'hard things' forces us to push ourselves beyond what we thought we were capable of. We become confident in our own skills and capabilities, this building self-confidence. You cannot develop as a person if you're constantly operating in your zone of comfort. This is when life becomes repetitive with your skills stagnating.
Accept JFK's advice - He really had things right.
You Honestly Haven't 'Lived' If You Live in Comfort
I'll draw a firm distinction between "living" and "existing".
- Merely "existing" is what a number of people we know do today. They get up, they work in their job or they go to school, they come home and have a quiet evening doing passive activities such as consuming social media. They move from action to action not because they are inherently motivated, but because inertia carries them forward to each task. Life becomes a boring song on repeat.
- "Living" is being in the present moment, taking things one step at a time and feeling truly alive. It's what we feel when every day is an adventure with each new day bringing its own series of exciting challenges. We feel like we are 'on the edge' but we're thrilled to be there!
Might I suggest that you haven't "lived" unless you have done hard things? You might feel as if you're in a rut just from living life 'normally' by doing the same old stuff. If this is you, perhaps you're merely "existing" as opposed to "living".
If this is you, stop "existing" and start "living". You don't know what you're missing out on and how much is waiting for you on the other side. Don't let this opportunity go to waste.
As Seneca put it:
"I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent - no one can ever now what you are capable of, not even you."
Perhaps this is why people envy young age when we are hungry and eager to make our impression on the world. Don't let this hunger die... ever.
We Don't Remember the 'Easy' Stuff. We Remember the Hard Times
Answer this question honestly:
What is your favourite memory?
I bet you that you didn't think of a time where something was 'easy'. Our best memories are of the times where the sky was falling down or when we faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles but we managed to pull through.
We don't remember things because they were easy. We smile at the times when we did something hard.
The 'hard stuff' is what builds our character, our friendships and our memories. While we might undergo some form of discomfort by doing difficult things, a bit of short-term pain is only a small price to pay for a lot of long-term gain!
I'll end today's article with one final tip:
Do one hard thing each day.
It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you pick one 'hard' thing to do and you just do it. This could be writing a new blog that you're unmotivated to write, reading a book you've been meaning to read for months or cooking a new recipe that you've had bookmarked for years.
Just pick something difficult and finish it. Each day. The sense of satisfaction you'll feel from doing this is priceless.