“Write an essay with opening/Introduction, body, and conclusion about doing hard things.” This is my requirement for taking on the DHT Challenge list. I am going to address three type of challenges: 1) In-voluntary challenges. 2)Semi-Voluntary challenges. 3) Voluntary Challenges. (I’ve replaced “hard thing” with the word “challenge,” due to the audience I’m writing for. I hope to explain these three, why consider taking them on, and offer up ways to take them on.
1 (a made-up story) Our home burned down in a forest fire. We lost all our possessions except the ones we could fit in our vehicles as we evacuated. We didn’t lose any family or friends. Comment: Plainly this would be a HARD thing to deal with, or “take on.” It is an in-voluntary challenge “thrust” upon you. My father said you can react when things happen by crying or laughing. I observed and heard his words that recommended the second choice was a better way to go. What is an appropriate time to grieve, and for how long.. when you lose a home, a car, a pet, a spouse, a child, a parent? What is the appropriate way and amount of time to mourn? –Plainly there is not black and white answers to these questions. I’ve found that when circumstances or events seem HARD, I will revisit some aphorisms that I have collected like the following: “Successful or happy people let go of the past quicker than others.” “Please give me the strength to affect that which I can, and give me the grace to let go of that which I cannot control.” “Put effort and action into what you CAN DO, and let go of that which you can not affect.” “The past is history, the present is a gift, the future is unknown.” So you’ve got these wise, calm words of wisdom to reference, but Heck!- you just lost your home, and your non-fire-proof safe had $XXX,000 in it! Not to mention your favorite SUP, Bike, climbing rope, teddy bear, and sofa are all torched! So, what is “the best way” to address an in-voluntary challenge? I think that you start by appreciating what you DO HAVE. You “take stock,” as they say. Then you decide what you can do, and what you can’t affect. You can start calling on friends, contacts, extended resources to help you out. – You show vulnerability, or need, and you’d be surprised that showing this to friends is a gift to them.- they would love to help you. Further the organizations and connections you have are “set up” to assist in just such a situation. Is it HARD to ask for help? – Yes, I’ve been there, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to ask for people to get stuff for me when I was confined to a bed and a wheel chair. Asking for help IS TAKING ACTION. Well, then what? You work with those that assist, and you contribute to “moving on” with any actions you yourself can take. What those actions are that would move you to an “improved self or circumstance” is only something you can know. Yes, there is a positive feeling in helping yourself, (perhaps pride), there is also a joy in seeing the resources, community, and friends around you delight in helping you take on the in-voluntary challenge that was thrust on you.
2 (another made-up story) You work 4 days a week, 10 hours a day. You are paid hourly, paid well with benefits, and enjoy the company of your fellow workers and supervisors. Your employer says that there has been a large increase in demand for the company’s services and products and the race to hire new employees has not kept up with the needs of the company. Your employer asks if anyone would volunteer to work a fifth day for overtime pay until they can find more employees. You’ve got plans for awesome three-day weekend adventures scheduled for the next four weeks. Ugh, here’s a dilemma, and certainly a “semi-voluntary hard thing, or challenge.” If you don’t give up or shorten one or more of your three-day trips, you won’t appear as a team player at work. If you take on the hard thing of the fifth day you’ll miss out on some fun experiences with friends. When it comes to semi-voluntary challenges some people will get out the figurative “scales” and weigh the pros and cons of each choice. I turn to aphorisms again, or sage advice from observing: wise, happy, content, successful, peaceful, and purposeful people. “When a choice is upon you, do not resent, or regret, but rather know it’s a miracle.” “Successful people often trade immediate pleasure with present hardships to reap greater rewards later.” “Invest in hard work now to reap greater rewards later.” The opposite of these is also to be considered… “Carpe diem!” = “Seize the Day!” “Take the vacation now, you don’t know if you’ll get the chance later.” “Work will always be there, schedule and prioritize your off time.” Hmm. So, there you have it, it’s HARD to decide about doing hard things. Shall I “buy” good will from my employer now, that I can “spend” later? Or should I know that I’m appreciated already and know that I’m a great employee BECAUSE of the fact that I take my three days off to rejuvenate and come back to work refreshed and amazing at my job? The answers to these questions would be different for different people, and would be different for the same people at different times in their lives. Going back to the scales concept, this is where it’s really good to know yourself, know where you stand with others, and know how to quantifiably value things in your life.
3 Taking on running an ultra,(a foot race 50 K or longer), would be a great example of a very hard VOLUNTARY Challenge. Obviously, this is going to be physically uncomfortable. ( now there’s an under statement.) And it’s going to be uncomfortable during and after, with some probability that they’ll even be some painful episodes prior to the race, both physically and mentally, before the race. So WHY DO IT? Well, I can only speak from experience on similar things I’ve done. Like the 130+ miles of hiking all the CA 14ers. The first step on the trail was easy enough, the 1,000 was reasonable, the 4,000th step was strenuous, the 30,000th was exhausting, I was hallucinating during the last 5 miles. Yet, there was euphoria in planning, executing, and achieving something that was colossal, something truly HARD. -Perhaps achieving something that folks thought could not be done. Whether it’s fitting in a VOLUNTARY one hour workout at 5am before work, or embarking on an ultra trail race/run on a Saturday morning, the satisfaction from doing these truly big challenges is in the great feeling before, during, and after. Sure there is apprehension prior to it, and physical challenges/pain during the event, but it’s been 100% with me that afterwards one feels a calm sense of contentment. – Words fail here, but we’d also try calling it pride, achievement, purpose, etc… Being sore for three days after is a wonderful physical reminder that you did something that pushed your body to it’s limit. Taking on hard challenges where you are unsure of the outcome, makes it especially wonderful once you complete them.
In conclusion, I’d say that we have our hands full with just these three variations on doing hard things. 1) in-voluntary hard things / challenges are often the toughest to recognize as “good” for you. The man who had his leg biten off by a shark years later said it was the best thing that ever happen to him.(Mike Coots went on to be the world’s leading shark protector- and he loves his work/avocation) 2) Weighing choices when semi-voluntary hard things / challenges are in front of you is a time to take the “Stop-think-act approach.” – Asking: What is the best use of your time? 3) With the caveat that you should not go harming yourself in taking up voluntary hard things / challenges, I’ve found that these hard fought goals always feel rewarding afterwards, if not in the actual doing.
Conclusion part two. A review of strategies is as follows: 1) dump/forget the past, deal with it, act on what you can, let-go of that which you cannot control. 2) take time to weigh the options, know thyself, seize the day, but invest in your own future as well. Be quick, fit adventure in, but not at the cost of significantly burning bridges that may allow you to cross future streams. 3) Choose something to do that you’ll be unsure of the outcome, perhaps surprising yourself that you accomplished it.
The most memorable and rewarding things we find in our lives are those that are hard to accomplish. Hard fought victories, Hard earned rewards. And if you choose to do something very hard that is non-sense, non-purposeful, doesn’t harm others, … It will, at the very least, be … memorable. So, DO HARD THINGS.