Hard choices: easy life. Easy choices: hard life.
I’m curious to know what you think when you hear this quote! I suspect you’re probably not thinking “Awesome Kate. Hard choices? Bring it ON because I just LOVE dealing with hard choices!!”.
How great would it be if the quote said “Easy choices: easy life” instead? It’s funny because these days my response to that would be: “But hang on, where is the growth in making easy choices?”.
The first time I ever heard this, it was said to me by my dear friend Nathan. We were working at an event together and I was faced with some tough decision – I can’t even remember what it was now – but whatever it was, I was leaning towards taking the easier option. That’s when Nathan pipes up with: “Kato: hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life”.
For those who know me well, you’ll also know that I’m absolutely addicted to a good quote or saying! I think that currently I have around 400-odd favourites!
When Nath said this to me I immediately fell in love with it. I loved it because another thing I have great appreciation for is simplicity. A simple saying can pack so much punch and hold so much truth in merely a handful of words – and I believe Nathan’s quote is one of those.
When Nath said that to me, it made the decision I was pondering a no-brainer. It reframed my situation very quickly and I was able to see the bigger picture of me choosing the easy option now; I realised it would make things more difficult later on. I wasn’t solving the challenge at all, in fact I was actually avoiding it.
The person who’s originally credited for this saying is a man by the name of Jerzy Gregorek. He immigrated from Poland to the United States with his wife Aniela in 1986 – they were both political refugees. Astoundingly, he then went on to win four World Weightlifting Championships and establish a world record in the sport.
In 2000, Jerzy and Aniela founded UCLA’s weightlifting team. Together they created a program called The Happy Body Program and Jerzy has so much nous that he’s now been mentoring people for over 30 years.
I’m sure you’ll agree that anybody who’s overcome the massive challenge of being a political refugee – and then gone on to excel in elite sport and become world champion– definitely knows a thing or two about being faced with hard choices or decisions.
But what’s all this “hard choice” stuff about, you ask? Well, in a word it is about discipline.
In my experience, “easy choice” decisions are things like:
- Turning the alarm off and choosing to stay in bed on a cold morning instead of getting up and doing the intended action – for example, an extra hour of time on a “passion project”, some exercise, meditation, catching up with stuff that is hanging over one’s head etc;
- Saying yes to the extra serve of food because it tastes delicious – not because there is any genuine hunger there;
- Buying something when you really don’t have money to spend and knowing you won’t have any left to pay your rent and bills when they’re due;
- Letting some indiscretion or bad behaviour slide because the conflict feels too uncomfortable; and
- Staying in the job because it feels secure – even though your spirit is wilting.
You get the gist. Hard choices involve some discipline. Easy choices are the ones where in the moment, as in RIGHT NOW, you get to avoid some form of discomfort and don’t have to tap into your discipline.
The thing I’ve noticed about success is that it leaves clues. People who are successful have mastered the art of making the hard choice NOW so that they can reap the rewards and have an easy life LATER (which is really now after a period of time anyway). How else does one become a world champion weightlifter and secure a world record? Or become abundantly healthy? Or financially free? Or truly happy?
It comes down to the decisions we make every hour of every day, and often the hard choice isn’t always the fun choice. It’s the choice that takes some work and energy (and sometimes can be a downright pain in the bum) but it’s the one that ensures we will enjoy an easy life later.
Like when it’s time to pay the rent, or when we’re sitting at our desk at our new job just loving ourselves sick! Why hello there, Easy Life, nice to see you again!
I must admit that personally I can’t see myself ever having this one completely nailed. I love food and wine, I hate cold mornings, exercise sometimes annoys me.
The thing is, I believe that as long as I make the hard choices more often than not, an easy life will ultimately prevail for me. And let’s face it: we all know which decisions feel directly in alignment with what we are striving for and the goals we’ve set ourselves. It’s just whether or not we choose to pay the price at the time or later on.
I do want to stress that this is certainly not about perfection. It’s more about the realisation that you are the master of your own ship and if you want your ship to sail into calm and peaceful seas then it’s really important that you do the heavy lifting now.