A coaching friend and I were talking last week when I lamented that some of the most critical tasks on my list of business building basics were still undone. Each incomplete task is pretty simple and relatively quick to complete. Some are one-time projects and others are more like weekly projects. I have the skill and the time, but haven’t done them.
“So, what’s stopping you?” my friend asked. There really isn’t anything stopping me, although I do have a pretty strong procrastination habit. We talked a minute, with my friend asking some excellent coaching questions while I whined about not knowing how to move myself forward in this area. Then she told me she was going to call me out on what she thought was the real issue, and I said, “Sure, go ahead.”
She said my life was too easy. I vacationed, studied, and worked without fear of losing the lifestyle I have now. My bills are paid, my neighborhood is nice, my husband supportive, and my vacations plentiful. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t like doing,” she said. “For now, you can maintain your current lifestyle by doing only what you like.” She went on, “The problem is, eventually you will be unable to keep it up unless you do some of those not-so-fun tasks.”
My friend is right. I get by just fine – doing exactly what I want to do and avoiding what I don’t want to do. My habits work for getting by, but they don’t take me where I want to go. It’s like walking around the nature trail at our local park. It’s pretty, interesting, and feels like you are doing something good for yourself, but very quickly you are back where you started. That’s fine if you want to keep trekking around the same small park, but I want to walk through mountains and meadows I’ve never seen before. When I choose to walk in my hometown park, I want it to be a refreshing respite from more challenging hikes, not a repetitive loop that keeps me off the road of bigger adventures. My friend put it to me pretty clearly:
“If you are going to move forward in your goals, it’s time to start doing the unpleasant tasks that will take you there.”
Next she challenged me to spend at least thirty minutes, two times a week, doing something on my list of incomplete, critical tasks. “Start with just thirty minutes,” she said, “it’s better than zero and you can grow from there.”
I accepted the challenge and have been thinking about it for several days. It came to me that an easy life is what keeps many of us from living our potential. It isn’t always a lack of resources and abilities that keeps us from achieving; sometimes having everything we need is what keeps us from trying for something else.
Think about how we often treat health and money. Many people don’t take care of their bodies when their health is decent, but suddenly become fitness fanatics when health is in jeopardy. I bet you know someone that has far too much debt and very little savings, but isn’t too concerned because right now they have good income. The impetus to reduce debt and save comes when income is threatened.
I’m glad I have an easy life, but I want to look past its conveniences and work toward an even more satisfying one. Working hard at the things I don’t want to do can be my way of showing I’m grateful for a life of ease. It’s also a way of honoring the gifts I’ve been given – and they are many. However, beyond gratefulness and honor lies one more truth: it isn’t an easy life I seek, but a worthwhile one.
As we finish the last week of this year, I look forward to setting goals for next year. To this year and next, I raise a toast: “Three cheers for the life we have had so far! And three more for making the life we are about to live even better.”