Life is hard. Every human over the age of ten has somehow unravelled that salient truth either from a Chinese fortune cookie, a bumper sticker, the back of a bathroom stall door or possibly from firsthand experience. But the critical piece that I think gets left unsaid is that while life is undoubtedly hard, we have a lot of choice in how that hard appears in our lives.
My life took a drastic left turn in the fall of 2017. At my then job, I’d been going through the motions without realizing I’d been coasting on auto-pilot. It was like having the experience of driving your car and finding yourself at your destination, having no friggin’ clue how you even got there. I’d lost my sense of curiosity. I’d become comfortably numb. Life was neither good nor bad – and while it had its share of challenges, it really couldn’t be described as hard. I’d gotten lazy.
I’d found myself in a heated debate with someone at my company who had the authority to terminate me. The argument ended amicably, no limbs were lost, and we ultimately shook hands and moved on. But the experience left me cracked. It was a revelatory moment. A pair of 60-watt halogens were going off. I did not like the idea of someone else having that kind of control over my life. Things had to change.
I decided to take a sabbatical for a couple of weeks. And as any grown woman at a crossroads in her life does, I packed up my kids and headed back home to my family farm. I had to reassess WTF I was doing with my life. I watched back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad and The Fall (so good, BTW) while eating potato chips on my mom’s worn leather couch, leaving indelible butt indentations into the cushions. I ignored all outreach from good friends back in the big city. I was directionless.
That’s when I was introduced to this book entitled, “ Look Ma, Life’s Easy. How Ordinary People Attain Extraordinary Success and Remarkable Prosperity“ by Ernie J. Zelinsky, a Canadian author. My brother tossed a copy on my lap and said, “if you have some time to kill”, 😏 knowing full well the only thing on my schedule was lunch and dinner. “ You might want to give that a read,” he offered.
Was it the best book ever? I dunno 🤷♀️. I believe the right book appears when you are ready to receive it. Kind of like the worn adage…
And clearly, I was ready. That book launched me on a course of self-discovery and personal growth that continues today…three years later. It was the first of many books I’ve read since, but it was the one that started it all. I even reread it this year to see if it was still as good as I’d initially thought, and yeah…it’s worth a read.
The book’s title promised a life of ease…but like any sceptical reader who’s graduated away from reading picture books, I approached it with trepidation. What’s the catch?
**Spoiler alert** (Just in case you want to run out and buy a copy)
‘Cause I’m about to save you a few bucks and tell you. Zelinsky doesn’t suggest that life is without challenges, but his message is simple.
If you do the hard work first, life does get easy. There is so much truth in that. It’s one of those indisputable facts that show up in every aspect of your life when you think about it. Let me give you some examples to prove the point.
Let’s say you’ve been dating this guy for three years. Or worse, married to him. He’s not horrible. But he gets on your nerves at times. The idiosycrantic way he eats his vegetables that you initially thought was adorable has become annoying AF. He spends too much time gaming — might even pick his nose. But you think, meh…but being single sort of sucks too. Ugh, online dating can be soul-crushing. It’s not easy. Having to sift through a bunch of punters who’ll you never know are being truthful or not. Better the devil, you know. It’s easier to take the path of least resistance, stick with the vanilla guy who doesn’t light you up because the alternative sounds so daunting. Until you wake up ten years later, no kids, same dead-end relationship, and you realize you’ve lost critical time.
If you just do the hard work now, have the tough conversation, leave his ass and find someone meant for you, life will not only become easy, but it will also be enjoyable. It’s all in your hands. Being single and not wanting to be is hard, but so is being in the arms of the wrong guy who doesn’t make your heart dance.
Think about your bank account. Saying no to that trendy Marc Jacobs li’l black crew neck shift dress might feel like an impossible hardship — as would passing on a pair of white kitten heels that would effortlessly complement the look. Instead, taking that money and investing in an unsexy index fund that doesn’t produce noticeable dividends for years – that’s friggin’ hard.
But equally hard is turning 55 and realizing that all your friends are financially independent and choose to work only because they enjoy it. While you, on the other hand, still have another 12 years — at minimum…to go. That’s also a tough reality to swallow.
Saying no to unnecessary retail temptations today will invariably lead to a more comfortable life later. Better yet, you’ll have money (with interest) to spend on stuff that really matters.
Hard now and easy later vs.easy now and much harder later.
Think about your health. The idea of jumping on public transit, to get across town in the blistering cold, to wait in line for a cardio machine that feels like a treadmill of death – that’s fucking hard. And those sugarless, green cucumber smoothies that taste like ass are challenging to drink compared to the crack that Starbucks serves up. I’m talking about the double chocolatey chip frappuccino at 650 calories. Making healthy choices today isn’t easy. But neither is dealing with obesity and all the baggage that comes with…well…excess baggage.
Isn’t it a wonderful thing to be a perfect weight and open your closet, toss on anything you choose and look fab?
Hard now and easy later vs. easy now and much harder later.
Think about all the crappy tasks that await you daily. You put your dirty dish in the sink and think… well, I’ll clean that later. But you don’t, and the plate is still waiting for you in the morning.
Except, now, it’s formed a nice crusty layer of grunge that you end up having to soak and then work off with a scouring brush. Completely avoidable had you just washed the thing immediately.
Again, hard now and easy later vs. easy now and much harder later.
Any parent knows that raising kids isn’t easy. It would be so nice just to let them do what they want. If they don’t want to brush their teeth, meh…up to them. It’s such a hassle to deal with the temper tantrums. And reviewing their homework every night when all you want to do is draw a bubble bath and pour yourself a glass of wine….Ugh….HARD.
But on the flip side, put in the work today, and with any luck, Mason and Ava might turn out to be highly successful someday, and you can retire early. (I’m only just partially kidding)
The point is….parenting isn’t hard. Good parenting is hard. Do it right, and you’ll reap the rewards down the line – instead of having to bail little Mason out from behind bars down at the precinct.
Hard now and easy later vs. easy now and much harder later.
And think about starting your own business. It’s friggin’ hard. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. It’s the risk of an uncertain future. It’s not knowing exactly where to start. It’s panicking when your website crashes the day after you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on an ad campaign promising to drive new leads to your business. It’s knowing when to hire a team to support you and then dealing with the inevitable drama that unfolds. That shit’s hard.
But you know what else is hard? Spending over an hour commuting in both directions to a job where the only message of appreciation you receive is a hand-stamped Christmas card once a year by your micro-managing boss. Missing your kid’s afternoon school performance of Jo March because it conflicts with a business meeting. Having to explain why you are five minutes late from your lunch break only to go into yet another mindless meeting without an agenda. A meeting where you get to play a secret game of Business Buzzword Bingo. You know the one. Every time someone tosses out a word or phrase like: disruptor; leverage; bandwidth; deep-dive; move the needle, low-hanging fruit; and my personal favourite twin offenders – KPI and ROI – you get to check off a box. 🤮 #FML – Now if you could only turn that into a drinking game, rendering the meeting more palatable — otherwise, all that shit is equally hard.
Why not start your own travel business today? Take the more challenging route now, and do something you love to do — on your terms. And the only cap you’ll have on your earning potential is the one you set yourself.
Truth is, being your own boss should never become a walk in the park. If it is, you aren’t pushing yourself enough. Growth comes from stretching the perimeters of our comfort zones. And let me tell you, having your own business and betting on yourself is so much more rewarding than the alternative. No matter what, it will feel easy in comparison.
That’s essentially what I learned from Ernie Zelinski’s book, “Look Ma, Life’s Easy.” His message of doing the tough things first plays into my life almost daily.
And at some point, I’m going to buy a nicely aged bottle of double malt scotch for that guy with whom I had the fateful argument back in 2017. He is currently blissfully unaware of the impact he had on my life. I need to thank him for inadvertently waking me up. Isn’t it funny how life goes?
Maybe one day you’ll send me a bottle of scotch, but a nice Malbec will do just as fine.
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