There’s this saying “choose your hard.”
It comes from a popular quote:
“Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard.
Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard. Choose your hard.
Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard.
Communication is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard.
Life will never be easy. It will always be hard. But we can choose our hard.
Pick wisely.” — Unknown
If you’ve read my work for a while you know I both avoid sugarcoating the truth and try to write with some nuance instead of barking at everyone atop my guru pedestal.
Context is needed in today’s self-improvement dialogue. So, unlike others, I’m not going to necessarily scold you for your decision-making. Instead, I’ll paint a picture of reality that’s as honest as I can make it to help you make the best decisions for your life.
I was one of those people who knew I’d get a divorce while I was standing on the altar. I had this convoluted, bizarre, notion that I’d be able to stick it out with my then-wife until my daughter got older. There were even glimmers of hope where I felt like maybe we did have a shot at pulling it off for life.
The marriage failed. I wanted to leave years before I actually did and I only left because it was one of those situations where she was emotionally pushing me out the door but wanted me to deal the final blow to the relationship. So that’s what I did.
I stayed for a number of reasons. I’d grown so comfortable being in a relationship that I was scared to be alone. Statistically, children tend to be better off with two married parents. Some people argue it’s worth gritting your teeth and going through just for the sake of the kids. Amidst all the toxicity and chaos in the relationship, I was in love.
When and how to get married or divorced is a subject that’s above my paygrade, but I do agree that relationships are a huge, perhaps the biggest, component in your life and that you should choose very carefully because a misstep can set you back years, even decades.
There are three different body types:
I’m a mesomorph. My weight has fluctuated up and down over the years, but due to my body type, genetics I didn’t choose, it’s not very hard for me to drop weight when I put my mind to it. I’ve gone from 40lbs above my natural BMI to a six-pack in the span of months, multiple times. On top of that, I’m the type of person who naturally enjoys lifting weights and exercising.
For some people, it is genetically more difficult to lose weight. Some people have medical conditions that cause weight gain that has nothing to do with how much they eat or exercise. I get how some people would be upset at a ‘one size fits’ all message when it comes to health and fitness (no pun intended).
On the other hand, the statistics and data are clear. Obesity is linked with a ton of health problems including a higher rate of all-cause death, diabetes, and heart disease. While it’s not okay to fat shame other people, but when you are obese, your becomes more difficult, including doing simple things like walking.
So let’s not pass judgment on the physical appearance of others, but let’s not pretend that bodyweight isn’t a health factor and that obesity doesn’t entail significant health risks. Whatever your situation, it is imperative to figure out a way to become a healthier version of yourself, even if the deck is genetically, societally, and mentally stacked against you.
Debt has a bunch of negative consequences. We know that. But let’s not pretend as if everyone who’s in debt is just insanely financially irresponsible.
Some studies say that the prefrontal cortex, the decision-making area of your brain, doesn’t fully form until you are 25 years old. Some might argue that it makes no sense to hold an 18-year-old responsible for the decision to go into tens, or hundreds of thousands of debt, to go college. You could make the argument that government-subsidized demand for education inevitably leads to skyrocketing tuition costs.
When it comes to ideas like canceling student debt, I can see both sides of the argument. I believe that we’re conditioned from a young age into getting saddled with debt and by the time we come to our senses, much of the damage is done.
“Just be more financially literate!” Well, as some smart people mentioned, financial literacy is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making financial decisions:
Investing is not the study of finance. It’s the study of how people behave with money. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. You can’t sum up behavior with formulas to memorize or spreadsheet models to follow. – Morgan Housel
The bottom line though: regardless of your financial position, it’s still in your best interest to do everything you can to improve it. That might mean making sacrifices.
It might mean you need to exert an abnormal level of effort to change your financial situation. It will probably take years to fix all your financial mistakes, mistakes that you didn’t make entirely on your own.
Here’s one thing I’m near certain of: the government, of all entities, probably isn’t going to help you do that. You’ll probably have to fix it on your own. Move forward with that understanding.
I’m working on a new book right now. It’s about living an unapologetic life — doing, saying, and acting exactly the way you want to without apologizing for any of it.
Living this way comes with consequences, of course. Some of the beliefs you hold and find no fault with…offend other people. Sometimes they’re offended because you’re an asshole. Sometimes they’re offended because they’re overly sensitive.
Politically correct culture can and does damage the discourse, but the movement started with good intentions because some things were being said that shouldn’t be said.
Communication is hard because of the consequences you might face from doing it. Authentic communication can put you at risk in all sorts of ways, from being rejected, to looking stupid, to losing relationships and allies and even your job.
That being said, when you fail to communicate honestly you start to feel like a fraud. You move around the world with this passive-aggressive energy that manifests itself in ways that are often much more damaging than being honest.
Often, saying what you mean and speaking up costs you up front, but it tends to be a net positive in the long run because you don’t have to do the work of keeping up with lies, half-truths, and a fake persona that isn’t you. Honest communication is hard. All of this is hard.
This brings me to the final section.
You have to take phrases like ‘choose your hard’ with a grain of salt because a lot of circumstances in your life occur through no fault of your own. Luck, or lack thereof, plays a role in your life. Like I talked about in chapter 5 of my last book, there is no such thing as a true meritocracy and true equality is impossible.
I don’t know you. I don’t know whether you’re rich or poor, working a job you love or hate, have a family or don’t, come from an oppressed class of people or not. There are too many variables in a single human being’s life for me to create a bulletproof recipe for success that anyone can copy.
But I do know that there are patterns that tend to lead to success. I do know that some decisions are better than others. I know that your life is the combination of things you have no control over and decisions you’ve made. You have to account for both. Well, you don’t have to, but you probably should.
Being alive is inherently difficult. We all have our challenges. When it comes to facing yours, it’s important to be gentle with yourself when you need to, but it’s also important to kick your own ass when it’s necessary. I can decide which method is right for you at what time, but I can tell you that deep down you know how to separate the BS from what’s real.
I’m reminded of the quote:
Easy choice, hard life. Hard choices, easy life
There are a bunch of times we opt for the easy short-term choices that make life harder for us. I don’t have to tell you what those choices are. You know. I can tell you that the decisions you make play a major role in your destiny.
I suggest you use brutally honest self-assessment to figure out what the right decisions are.