In one of my recent posts, I had written a couple of paragraphs about the difference between school and work and the implications of failing (or screwing up) in both, this didn’t make the cut when I edited the post, because the post was already well over 1000 words.
The reason those unwritten paragraphs still linger in my mind is because I recently heard someone I know say, he doesn’t want to do anything that involves “Hard work”, to be fair these were the words of a naive 18 year old. But it was enough to get me thinking – we as human beings are generally lazy. If there is an option of getting the same results with no hard work v. hard work, most people would immediately chose the former. However, life is rarely (if ever!) that simple.
It is a universal truth that Efforts and Results are correlated. If you want better results, make better efforts. Its simple (not to be confused with easy). Of course, there are external circumstances also that are always in play, but they are external, which are beyond our control (most often). So prudence suggests that we focus on what we can control – which is our effort.
All of this is common sense. no?
Well, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to reiterate it, because often times, we tend to be so caught up in our routine, or our own biases, that we fail to recognize common sense starting us right in the face.
Which brought me to my next question – What is “hard work” and what is “smart work”, other than being the jargons used and made popular by self-help gurus.
Isn’t it all subjective though, a task which would require an hour’s worth of effort for me, may be easily accomplished by someone else in a fraction of the time. or vice versa.
Further, isn’t it also a matter of perspective – Life.
If we constantly tell ourselves that something is difficult, it inevitably makes us miserable by being the most difficult task. If we tell ourselves that we have what it takes to accomplish said task, the completion of it won’t only be easy, it will also leave us feeling pretty great. The trick is in what we tell ourselves.
See how a small shift in perspective changes the process and the outcome.
I write these not because I have read them in self-help books, or heard it from other people, it is all by experience, I used to put a HUGE amount of pressure on myself, and feel like being a lawyer was very “difficult” and involved a lot of “hard work”. But then one day, there was a shift in my perspective. which has definitely resulted in my work being more enjoyable, and one that leaves me feeling productive and pretty pleased with myself.
This is not to say that I never face challenges anymore, or need a learning curve anymore, it only means that I have the trick to quiet the negative self-talk, and use that energy instead to teach myself something new.
Every choice we make either has the potential to enhance or deplete us. And majority of life’s tasks become easier by a simple shift in perspective.
Now how does one change their perspective – here’s how I do it: When confronted with a challenge, or something which scares me, or makes me question my ability, or makes me feel like it would require a lot of hard work or effort-
Step 1 – I stop. I stop doing everything I am doing, take a few deep breaths.
Not enough can be said about the importance and impact of breathing. It is after all the life force, the one common thread that ties us all.
Step 2 – Once my mind is well oxygenated and calm, I automatically feel better and more ready.
Step 3 – The third step which is the most ongoing step – Positive reinforcement and positive self-talk. Acknowledging your own strengths, so that you are confident enough to take on any challenge.
All this may seem very tedious, but after a few times, muscle memory takes over, and you won’t even feel like this is a big task to be done in preparation of facing a new challenge.
I have often had people tell me that I am “Lucky”, that I wouldn’t be able to understand somebody else’s struggle because I have an “easy life”, only going by the parts of my life they get to see (that I let people see), and my first though is, if only you knew. If only you knew the work that has gone into becoming me, the number of years of clueless helplessness and utter confusion that have been my reality, I wouldn’t be called lucky.
Its not luck, but sheer will and action which have made me build a life I love, one which feels as good as it looks.
Again, this is not to say that, this is it, or that this is the best its ever going to get. It is not, if anything I know that I am on my way up, still scaling heights, and far from my potential. And for once, this excites me, to know that the best is really yet to come. Instead of thinking of the future as a scary unknown. Again a simple shift in perspective.
Life, till our very last breath, is always changing, new challenges keep coming our way, new lessons have to be learnt, we have to keep adapting if we have any chance of thriving, and not merely surviving. This is applicable to every single one of us.
Don’t let it discourage you though, it is not all work, for the last couple of hours that I have spent writing this post, I have been seeing butterflies flitting about, through the window in front of me, even now every time I look up from my computer screen, I see them blissfully living out their lives and adding joy to those of us who are lucky enough to see them. Perspective!
Our successes depend on effort, but it is only a matter of perspective to make the most of it while we are on our way to the top, and the sky is the limit.
I will conclude this post with a few questions.
Is it possible to succeed, in any field –
- Without any work or effort; or
- With constant negative self-talk: or
- By never seeing the world and this life as a potential of great opportunity and beauty?
Although these are my “Dear Void” questions, please feel free to let me know your thoughts on it.
See you soon.