Take the Hard Way and Enjoy the Journey

Life has a funny habit of offering us the easy path. The easy path also tends to be disguised as a very quick one. We’re inundated with get-rich quick schemes, and “end” solutions. I say “end” in quotation marks because what we’re sold is not only a highly improbable outcome but a much less fulfilling one. As author Ursula LeGuin wrote,

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

The journey we’re on in life — chapters three, four and eight in our 12 chapter book — is the best part of life. Yet so many people live thinking that their dreams will be the euphoria, celebration and culmination of everything. Nothing could possibly be better than finally reaching their mountaintop, they surmise.

As the Brits like to say: Rubbish!

Chances are, you’ve learned by now that a life worth living, one where we find fulfillment and achievement simply isn’t easy. Oftentimes, it’s our obsession with the end-goal of actually living in the moment of our dream that detracts us. What’s really great is the blood, sweat and toil, the times where we thought we’d give up but refused. The journey is always the best.

How many Hall of Fame athletes do you think would trade everything for one last opportunity to step into the batters box, dig in and experience the thrill of awaiting the pitcher’s pitch? How many musicians, those who have sold millions of records, would trade it all for one last opportunity to write, record and perform on the grandest of stages?

For most people, those are dream jobs. The good news, for you and I, is that we get to craft our lives and live them on our terms. Sure, we have responsibilities, jobs, families and bills to pay. We also have a destiny. We have journey to believe in, follow and actively live. We owe that much to ourselves.

Dream Jobs

I was discouraged earlier on in my professional career to pursue “dream jobs” by a wide range of people- from family, to alumni, to work colleagues and even friends. “It’s so difficult to get [blank] job.” “The hours are too long.” “Yeah, you’ll eventually get there but it will take ___ years and far too much grunt work.”

I heard it all. Sadly, earlier on in my life, the excuses became the dominating thoughts that filled my mind. There was always an easier path. The conservative path was the “best” one to take. Of course it was! It was the path that featured the least amount of risk!

I’ve got news for you: To live is to risk. As the saying goes, to get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. Two things that I believe — more than any other worldly beliefs — are these:

  1. The dominating thoughts that fill your mind, which you repeat to yourself and ruminate on, are what will become your reality
  2. The best life is one lived with risk. When we pursue opportunities and take chances that align with our heart’s wishes (without any guarantee of success, without a safety net in case we fail) we truly live

Ask yourself this question: Have you ever known anyone who started at the top? Have you known anyone, other than the privileged, who have simply received whatever job or assignment they wanted, at any point in time, right from the jump?

If you know that person, please refer them to me and ask them to contact me immediately. I’m dying to get connected to their “people.”

Taking Ownership

When people say that life is hard, it’s often because of a variety of factors: tough upbringing (financial, lack of parent(s), tough neighborhood or rejection of some kind.) Really, it could be many reasons. I choose to look at things from this point of view: Life is hard because a life worth living that will bring you self-satisfaction and peace of mind is never going to come easy.

You have to go out there and make it happen through iron will, belief and action.

Opportunity certainly doesn’t hurt. People are always quick to point that out. Of course opportunity is golden.

But I’ve simply lived through enough positive, successful experiences to know that in all instances where I have felt a sense of achievement and gratification, I have been significantly responsible for creating the opportunity myself, through my faith, effort and initiative.

I’ve found that the “gifts” we tend to receive in life are ones that come when we’re putting positive vibes and energy into the atmosphere; when we’re working intelligently and diligently for what we desire.

Other than perhaps lottery winners, people that I have studied, work colleagues I have observed and friends I know, who have reached a happy medium in their lives, are people who have demonstrated powerful initiative.

They have put themselves out there, they’ve put their art and talents out into the marketplace and they’ve given things a shot. Always give things a shot.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “ — President Theodore Roosevelt

The Easy Path

The times that I took the easy path, I ended up being super bored. More than 10 years of my professional career were spent in high-pressure jobs that mostly featured unfulfilling days and empty nights where I dreamt and prayed on my future.

I had fun days in between — I’d be lying to you if I said some of the work wasn’t satisfying — but for me, this was the easy path. Some days, I hated it. I kept hoping I would find the path that would satisfy me intellectually and bring me peace of mind.

When you’re doing something you love, you know it. No one needs to tell you that you love it. You know. Your intuition speaks to you. Your equilibrium feels on balance, your smile is a bit wider and you think clearer. Your ideas are grander and wider.

Why?

Because you’re thinking about and doing what you love. You’re making the world a better place because you’re giving your most authentic, creative, true self to the world.

That’s a beautiful thing.

Being yourself? Now that should be easy. Crafting the life you want for yourself? Well, that’s not easy. In fact, it’s hard.

So when people tell you something is too hard and that you’d be best suited to “get in” somewhere else to start, tell them you’re not interested. Go after what you love, otherwise, you will live with regret.

By all means, do what you you have to do to pay the bills but, if you are able, find the time to do what you love. We either keep kicking the can down the road in life or we take action. It’s that simple.

Ironically, by taking the hard way, we get to a place deep inside that speaks to us, soothes our soul and calms our nerves. It feels like home because when we’re there, spiritually and mentally, we are at home.

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