Let It Be Hard
Ep. 146
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This week’s episode is all about doing difficult things. Somewhere along the line, a lot of us adopted the mistaken belief that there is an easy way to have our dream life. But that’s false, there are no shortcuts.

When we adopt that mentality, we end up making it so much harder on ourselves. We fall short on certain goals, or we bypass certain milestones because we’re hyperfocused on having an easy life. But hard things challenge us to grow and learn and live a life far beyond ourselves. We can do hard things, stop wishing your way out of them.

Show Transcript
Happiness, just like anything else is fleeting, right? And we've all experienced this where you thought I'm going to get to X and then I'll be happy. And then you get there. And then what happens? You have a whole new set of stresses, right? You have a whole new set of stories. Our brains are just not wired to sit in a state of happiness.

Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time our energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello friends, welcome to another episode. I am so excited to have you here and let's just jump into it. Shall we? I titled this podcast episode, Let It Be Hard. Okay. Because somewhere along the line, a lot of us have adopted this mistaken belief that there is a way to have this life in an easy way, right? There's an easy way to life. And just by thinking that we end up making it so much harder on ourselves, and I'm going to explain what I mean. In the last episode, I talked about what not to do when you're looking for your quote unquote dream career, or you're trying to find clarity in the thing that you should be doing. Now obviously I think getting guidance from people is fine, right? I actually coach people on helping them figure out what their career is. But looking for someone else to give you the answer is a cop out, right? You're trying to like find secret door number three where you don't have to do any of the actual work of getting to know yourself. And someone's just going to tell you what that thing is, right? So that you can avoid failure and you can avoid all the learning and you just get to get there somehow. Right? I always get people that ask me, what's the best career for teachers trying to transition out? Or what's the best alternative career for lawyers? And I'm always struck by how wrong that question is. It's looking for the easy button, right? It's saying that this is a clear path that you can take to doing something else if you hate this thing that you're doing. You want someone else to lay another path for you. But I want you to understand that that is what got you into this mess to begin with, right? You followed a path that someone else laid out and you got there to the end or wherever you are. And you realized I don't actually like this path. And I actually didn’t like it here and yet, because it's easier quote unquote, we think it's easier to follow behind somebody else. Someone tell us exactly what to do. So then we don't have to come up with it ourselves. We don't have to think about it. We don't have to get it wrong. We just look for the next path. So yes, there might be some paths that are natural transitions to whatever job you're doing. But is that what you like doing, right? Just because there's a natural transition doesn't mean that that is a path that's good for you. And so you're going to keep repeating the cycle. I've talked about this ad nauseum I feel like at this point, but I see people constantly trying to make like the shift to the next thing. Just something that's like tangentially related to the career that they have, because it's easy, right? Like maybe if I have this background as a social worker or a teacher or a lawyer, doctor, whatever, then I can do this other thing that plays on that background. But I don't actually like this other thing either, right? It's not that much different than when I was actually doing, and I'm not going to try and spend the time figuring out what I actually want to do with this one life. Like, what do I want for that amazing career? I'm just going to try to find another path that somebody else has out there. And then you keep repeating the cycle. And the fundamental flaw in that question is that you're looking for the easy way. You're looking for like what is something that I don't have to work that hard at and there's a path laid out for me and I can just follow it along. And hopefully I'll get there without having to experience a lot of the negative, you know, emotions or experiences on that path. And I just want you to understand this hard truth – life isn't easy. Who told you it's supposed to be? What's ironic is that the things that we do control that could make our lives easier we don't do, right? Like not beating ourselves up, cultivating positive self-talk, having our own back, stopping the whole inner critic, stopping all of our self-sabotaging behaviors, like people pleasing and perfectionism and procrastination. We don't work on that stuff. We run around trying to make everything outside of us conform to what we want so that it'll be easy, right? Like if everybody would just act the way I wanted to, if my job would just have the hours that I wanted, if my boss would treat me the way I wanted then I could be happy and it would be so much easier. We have this misguided belief that there is some way that is easy. And then we keep repeating these cycles and just making it harder for ourselves.
Right? We keep going to the thing that's not actually for us, the thing that we don't actually want and we end up making it so much harder by trying to take the easy way out. And so I just want to accept that it's going to be hard, right? Let's let's just put that as our baseline. We can all accept that life is hard for every one of us, right? We all have different paths. We have different experiences. We will all have tragedy in our lives. There's just no way in escaping it and really big, tough emotions are going to come with it. And that's the same thing with our careers. Leaving and starting over in a new career and dealing with all of the mental stuff that comes up and all of the doubt and failure and all, that's hard. But staying in a career that's unfulfilling for 30 years, also hard. Feeling like you're not living for yourself or living a life that is for you is hard. Failing over and over and over and over and over again, to try to find that life that is for you, also hard. Not growing and staying stagnant and being bored and feeling unfulfilled, really hard, right? Relationships are hard. Being alone is hard. Maintaining thought work and trying to manage your mind is hard. An unmanaged mind is exceptionally hard.

You get my point. I want you to pick your hard when we can kind of disabuse ourselves of this notion that any of it is easy, we can take off some of the suffering. I think so many of us think that like other people just have it easy and my life is so hard and I'm going to sit and I'm going to pity myself and I'm gonna, you know, get frustrated. And I'm gonna add on all this unnecessary suffering, as opposed to just accepting like, yeah, it's hard. Yeah, starting over is hard. This is going to suck, right? There's a lot of this procedure process that's going to be difficult, but what is the point of life? Right? The point of life is not to come here and have it all be easy and have everything handed to us and have no problems and have everyone love us and just know how to do everything, right? There's no situation, there's nobody's life that is like that. Intellectually we understand that. I want you to note that the point of all of it is to grow and evolve. That's it. That literally is it if you think about what your purpose quote unquote is on this life, it's not to constantly be happy. We've talked a lot about this. Happiness, just like anything else is fleeting, right? And we've all experienced this where you thought I'm going to get to X and then I'll be happy. And then you get there, and then what happens? You have a whole new set of stresses, right? You have a whole new set of worries. Our brains are just not wired to sit in a state of happiness. And so that's not the point, the point isn't I want it to be easy and I want to be happy all the time. Our brains are wired to constantly grow. In episode 115, I went in more depth about the fact that life will always be both good and bad. And I want to kind of reiterate that. That there isn’t some point or some place that you get to where all of a sudden it's rainbows and butterflies, right? We have this like insane notion, this like fantasy about ourselves at some point in the future where everything falls together, right? We love our career. We love our body. We are like our ideal weight. We feel super confident. Our skin is glowing. Everybody loves us. We're super outgoing and we know exactly the right things to say. Our job is at ease. We have balance in our lives. We love being with our children all the time. We eat healthy. I mean, when you say it out loud, obviously it sounds insane, but I want you to think about what most people are trying to do all the time, right? I want you to think about how most of us are constantly picking one thing where we're lacking and then beating ourselves up. Like, yeah, I'm doing great in my relationship, but I don't eat healthy and I don't work out enough. And I'm just going to keep like ruminating over this or whatever the thing is for you. We're constantly trying to like push ourselves to become, I dunno, a little bit better as if like where all of a sudden, one day you're gonna wake up and have this perfect life. And then we feel super bad about our life as it is now. And we feel super bad about like, why does it have to be so hard? Why can't I just get to this promised land? Because it doesn't exist. Because there is no such thing. And so we keep putting off our lives and our happiness until we get to that place, right. We keep pretending like we don't have enough time and we have to worry about the next thing and the next thing and how do we get that? And once I get to that place, then I'll stop and I'll calm down. Like that place will never come, that day will never come. And so I want you to know that even right now the whole point is to just grow. That's it. Evolve. That's it.

I want you to start asking yourself which hard is going to get me to the best version of myself? Which hard is going to evolve me the most? I want you to pick that. I want you to look at your life and figure out how are you going to experience the most of it? Not because it's easy. Not because you're going to get to some place where you're going to be laying on a beach drinking mai tais. Because again, we've seen a bunch of people that get that, that retire, that have that windfall, that sell the company. They do that for about a week too. And then they get bored and then their brain starts creating other problems. And then they get depressed and they're like, no, I need to focus on something. My brain needs to work on something. My brain likes to learn information and grow. And so they're easy, like getting to some end. I see this all the time with people. And we talked about even in the last interview, I’m sorry the last podcast, about finding clarity in your career. Again, I think people think there's just one thing it's like I just have to find that one thing. And then once I find that then everything else becomes easy and then I can finally be happy. And then I can spend the rest of my career just doing that thing. And I've spoke at length about my own experience and one of the most liberating realizations that I've had. And kind of the thoughts that I have now is that I have no idea what I'll be doing in a couple of years. Because there's so many ways to grow. There's so many things to experience and I don't have to limit myself by one thing. And the point of what I'm doing is not to make my life as easy as possible. Because when I do that, I will create other problems for myself. I will start feeling unfulfilled. I'll start feeling stagnant, right? I want you to understand, like our brains have evolved to be unsatisfied, right? Like the people that were just satisfied in the caves and didn't need to go out and look for food, they tended to die. So we have this hedonic treadmill. We have our brain has evolved to like, no matter how great things become, right? Even if you have a windfall, let's say like you see lottery winners. Our brain goes back to a natural happiness set point, which is like not overly elated all the time and really mixed with both positive and negative emotions.

And this is a beautiful thing. I want you to realize this, like, when you think that you just want to get to a place that's satisfied, do you understand what would happen to humankind? If that happened? If we were all just satisfied? Nobody would innovate. Nobody would try things. Nobody would let their curiosity push them to doing more and different and bigger. Right? We just said yeah, it's fine. This is all great. I'm super happy. I get up and go to work. I come home. I don't need anything else. We're not meant to be like that. We're meant even if we find something that we love, which by the way, a great example of this are people who did love their job at one point, and then after a while start getting bored. Right? And a lot of times, again, we like start beating ourselves up. What's wrong with me? Why can't I just be happy? And again, I say, there's nothing wrong with you, it’s that your brain likes to grow. And if you've been doing a job for a number of years and nothing is really changing, you don't feel like you're growing. You feel stagnant. You get bored and feeling bored all the time is hard. So you decide I want something else. And that doesn't just have to be in the forum of careers, right? Like I'm not saying that you have to go out and change your job. You can find other ways to help yourself grow. Right? You can find other things that are going to help you evolve outside of work. You can find different ways to push yourself but just know that there's nothing wrong that you want that or need that. Like, that is the way that your brain has evolved. And that is what your brain needs. And so when you are thinking about the next decision, right? I want you to stop looking for the one thing that's going to be the easiest. I want you to stop looking for the one thing that is the clearest path that you don't have to try as hard on, or you don't have to worry about failing as much at. I don't want you to pick the one thing that you can look for that maybe you'll get there and then all of a sudden you're going to be happy all the time. Because you're setting yourself up for a much harder experience. Like the irony of it all is that by looking for that easy way out, you make it so much harder for yourself because you're not actually asking the question of like, what is it that I want to experience? I don't want you to look at like, what's the best job for lawyers transitioning out. I want you to look at what do I want to do with my life? What do I want to do every single day? What peaks my curiosity? What thing do I want to experience? Do I want to experience starting a business? Do I want to try entrepreneurship? Because yes, it's going to be really difficult and there's risk to it. And I might fail, but hell, I'm going to learn so much about myself and I'm going to push myself to do things that make me feel like I'm going to throw up. And I'm going to try to have the most epic life. And part of it is doing really hard things. Is that the thing I actually want but I'm scared to admit to myself? Do I want to write that book? Because it seems so cool to be able to, you know, put my learnings into book form, or try to go for New York Times Bestseller list or expand my horizons and something that I never thought I could do. Go for that. Figure that out. That path, yes, is going to be hard, but it's so much more fulfilling than trying to just take the easy button, right? Trying to find the next thing that you're going to do. And then you're going to feel unfulfilled again, and you're gonna feel bored again.

So I want you to start asking yourself not what's the easiest way? What's the fastest way? What's the, you know, way with the least amount of emotional investment? I want you to ask what is the hard way? What is the hard way for me to get to the thing that I want to get to? And am I willing to voluntarily do the hard? Because I promise you voluntarily or involuntarily, it's going to be hard. So you might as well pick the hard that's going to get you to that destination that you actually want to go to. I hope you choose that hard. And if you need help with that, I want you to come find me. One of the reasons we make it harder than it has to be is because we add so much unnecessary suffering to it. The path is already hard. You don't need to add it to it by beating yourself up and calling yourself names and going on this insane emotional roller coaster, you can learn to manage your brain so at least that part of it isn't as hard. I am opening up the group program in about a month and I would love to help you figure out how to manage that brain so you can decide what path you want to go on. Not so I can help you find the easiest path but so that I can open you up to trying so many more things and failing and doing all the amazing things that you know you can do. You know that you are destined for and not stop yourself because it's going to be hard. So if you want to get on the wait list and join us on the next round, go to quitterclub.com/group. And I will see you on the next episode.

Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes, it'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at Lessons From a Quitter and on Twitter at QuitterPodcast, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.