Always choose harder stuff.
When given the option to choose between something challenging and rewarding and something less challenging and less rewarding, always choose the more challenging thing.
We, people, are not very good at recognizing how much we will or will not enjoy something.
We often think that we will enjoy two things — like the above — equally. You can’t play out both scenarios simultaneously, so you’ll never know how wrong or right you were.
Fulfillment does not come from the accomplishment of tasks. Accomplishing something easy is not the same thing as accomplishing something hard.
Fulfillment, happiness, comes from progress towards the accomplishment of goals.
If you are given the option to choose something easy that you know you will achieve or something hard at which you may fail, choose the latter. Definitely choose the latter if it will help you towards the accomplishment of your goals.
Even if you fail, you’ve made it that much easier for you to try something similarly difficult in the future. You’ve experienced an exercise in self-efficacy — in seeing yourself as capable of trying and someday achieving hard things in the world.
You must exercise self-efficacy like you exercise a muscle. Muscles grow and get stronger through lifting them against gravity at increasingly larger loads. You should lift to failure in order to get the most strength gains.
Even if you fail on your maximum lift, you’ve pushed your muscles beyond where they’d gone before. Now, when you revisit that maximum lift next time, it will be physically and psychologically easier.
Even if you fail in the accomplishment of difficult tasks, you’ve pushed yourself beyond the easy tasks. You’ve added to the realm of competence that you can experience.
Write the book instead of dreaming of it.
Give the talk instead of thinking of it.
Go for the promotion instead of dreaming of it.
Ask out the girl instead of watching her.
Lift the weight instead of reading the Instagram post.
Cook the meal instead of ordering out.
Do hard stuff. Even if you fail, you’ll experience a feeling of growth. Growth, not accomplishment, is what makes people feel fulfilled.
Zak Slayback leads personal and professional development projects for The Mission and writes at https://zakslayback.com.