by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Whomever coined the phrase “life wasn’t fair” must have been having a bad day. There are a couple other phrases that ring more truth. “Life’s a beach but watch out for the crabs.” Life is an (expletive), then you die. The truth of the matter is NO ONE escapes this thing called life unscathed. Life is an obstacle course filled with challenges. As my mother always says, “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.” Life is an A.S.S. There’s Always Some S#@* you must deal with. It feels like every time you take one step forward, life smacks you in the face pushing you two steps backwards.
I’m reminded of a meme. It details the life of a young man’s journey from elementary school through graduating from college. It’s in quadrant format. First quadrant depicts a child in elementary school climbing a mountain. The caption says, “Almost done!” Second quadrant shows the child higher on the mountain, now in high school. The caption says, “Almost!” Third quadrant shows the young man nearing the end of college. It appears that he’s nearing the top of the mountain. The caption reads, “Oh Yes.” The final quadrant is titled “Life.” He’s graduated from high school and college. He’s now standing on what he thought was the top of a mountain. He’s caught up in the moment looking down the mountain that took him so long to climb. He’s reflecting on the journey, hurdles, and obstacles he had to navigate to reach this point. He’s excited! Mission Accomplished! As the excitement wears off, he looks at his surroundings. It was then he realized this isn’t the top of the mountain. It’s a dip in the mountain. It serves as a resting area for you to appreciate your milestone in life. As he looks up, he sees the rest of the mountain. From his vantage point, the rest of the mountain appears to be 10 million miles high. Certainly, higher than the portion of the mountain that he just climbed. This portion of the mountain doesn’t appear to have any dips to rest and enjoy another milestone. All he can observe is a long, never-ending stretch of hard climbing. The caption read, “OMG!”
Life is hard. Nothing about life is easy. It’s hard to succeed at anything in life. To be a success, you have to work extremely hard, make good decisions, make adjustments when things don’t go as planned, stay the course, and continue to improve and get better. And if you think that is hard, the opposite is harder. When you don’t succeed, you struggle, you’re needy, you’re lacking, you’re depressed, you’re begging, you’re more prone to do things that go against your core values.
There’s no easy road to travel. In one direction, we’ll call it “the hard way”—it’s going to require pain, sacrifice and long-suffering. It will feel like a longer route traveled. It will feel like more work than fun in the beginning. You’ll experience incremental success, one success compounding off of the other success. It’s a slow and steady grind. You’ll sacrifice having fun in order to get your life, health, marriage, career, or funds right. You’ll have moments of pride, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. As you journey through this process, you’ll continue to become a better version of you. You’ll become the darling, sage, and go-to person amongst your family and peer group. For it will become obvious based on the results of our life, you did something right.
In the other direction, we’ll call “the harder way”—it will seem pleasing at first. It will feel like you identified a shortcut. You’ll be the envy of many. You’ll look like you have it going on. You moved without building a foundation. You moved without developing character. You moved without developing discipline. You moved thinking there’s a shortcut for everything. But at some point, reality will set it. You’ll find that many of those shortcuts were missteps. Those missteps were lessons to be learned along the way. You’ll find yourself repeating mistakes over time because of those missteps. In life, negative things will repeat themselves until you learn the lesson. Those shortcuts and detours you took early on will be the catalyst for the regrets and setbacks you’ll endure later in life.
We all have to choose our hard!
• Getting up and going to work everyday is hard. Being broke and constantly doing without is harder.
• Living below your means is hard. Living paycheck-to-paycheck and living crisis-to-crisis is harder.
• Getting out of debt is hard. Staying in debt and paying tons of money in interest and fees is harder.
• Saving money is hard. Having no money saved and having to constantly ask someone else “can you have” or relying on the government to bail you out is harder.
• Getting in shape is hard. Being out of shape and uncomfortable with your body image is harder.
• Eating right is hard. Eating unnecessary calories, fatty foods, and too much sugar is harder because of the ill effects it will have on your body.
• Marriage is hard. Shacking up and living a married life without the benefits and protections of a marriage is harder.
• Staying married is hard. Dealing with a broken home, raising kids in separate houses, unraveling the life you built together as a married couple is harder.
• Communicating with your loved ones is hard. Assuming they’re mind-readers or neglecting to have heartfelt communication is harder. In relationships, lack of good communication creates stress.
• Believing in yourself is hard. Not believing in yourself is harder. For if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will.
Life is never easy. Some may look like they have it easier than others. Everybody is dealing with a struggle people know nothing about. Life is hard for all of us. We do have a choice in choosing our hard. Choose wisely!
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached @ 412-216-1013 or www.damonmoneycoach.com)