I left a great corporate gig after 20 years to start my own business. To take a risk. Me. “Oh, you must be one of those entrepreneurial types”. Nope. At least I never thought of myself that way. “Wow, I wish I could do that. You must be really brave”. Hmmmm, some days I feel that. But overall, not so much.
Is putting yourself out there and taking a risk easy? Um, NO! So why in the world do we do it? Why do we do hard things? Is the reward that accompanies the hard thing worth it? Yes! Life is in the journey. Character is built, barriers are broken, growth abounds.
This summer, I often took advantage of beautiful sunny days by taking my work poolside. One particularly sweltering day, I grabbed my usual lounge chair on the perimeter of the pool, overlooking a basketball court. There was just one person on the court, a guy who looked to be in his mid teens. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, he proceeded to pass the ball to himself, run toward the hoop, and attempt to catch and dunk the ball. Dripping in sweat, he failed. Over and over again.
I just sat there watching, contemplating what it means to do hard things and speculating what his motivation was. How long would he keep at it? What was his ultimate goal? Eventually, after a great toss and a particularly determined jump, he successfully dunked the ball.
Unbeknownst to me, he had garnered the attention of other onlookers, who started cheering at his accomplishment. I found myself so proud of this complete stranger for doing the hard thing. It’s so freeing when the sense of competition with one another is allowed to melt away. This guy’s accomplishment did not take anything away from anyone else’s goals. We were created not to see how we can “one up” each other, but to support one another, in community. Author Rachel Hollis says it best when she says we are “Made for More”. Each of us has unlimited capability.
I found it helpful to further reason through this topic of “doing hard things” by way of identifying some lies and truths in this space. The more aware we are of these lies and how they try to talk us out of doing the hard thing, or chasing the dream, the more we can argue right back with the truth, and gain the courage needed to move forward.
Lies and Truths:
Lie #1 – I’m not good enough. You could substitute the word good with any number of things…not capable enough, not knowledgeable enough, not brave enough. Ever heard of the Imposter Syndrome? Boiled down, it’s the notion that you somehow achieved success, but you don’t really belong. You don’t actually have what it takes. It’s accompanied by negative self talk and feelings of inadequacy. Hold on here. Who in the actual world gets to tell you whether you belong? Whether you’re enough? And, who are you looking to to define this for you? Random people on the internet who appear to have figured it all out? We will get nowhere if we compare our insides with other people’s outsides or our beginnings with their middles or ends.
Truth #1 – You are just as worthy and capable as ANYONE to reach for a goal. In this moment you are capable of more than you realize. You CAN do hard things! You are capable of comforting a hurting child, making that deal, starting an exercise program, learning a skill, decluttering a home, extending grace. And you are enough. Right now. Not down the road, when you’ve somehow “earned” worthiness. Nonsense. Worthiness has nothing to do with how often you volunteer, whether you make food from scratch, whether you work outside the home or not, or anything else. What a great example we can be for our kids in this space. When we see ourselves and others as already worthy, they will, too.
Lie #2 – The Joneses have it all figured out. This Instagram culture of cultivating a perfect looking feed does not tell the whole story. The Joneses home, possessions, lifestyle (or how these things appear), as well as how they define success has nothing to do with you and your life.
Truth #2 – There is more than enough room at the table. Comparison is unhealthy, unhelpful, and we need to knock it off. Seriously! I know, it’s easier said than done, but it will rob us of our joy if allowed to fester. All that being said, however, sometimes people really ARE rocking life! Instead of feeling threatened by that, let’s cheer on our brothers and sisters! Let’s be genuinely happy for their successes. All ships are lifted up with a rising tide.
Lie #3 – You just don’t have time to take on one more thing. My heart goes out to anyone feeling overextended or burdened. It’s a heavy weight to bear and we’ve ALL been there. There are certainly seasons of life when we’re in the trenches. Parenting little people, caring for aging parents, or perhaps navigating a particularly taxing work situation, relationship, or financial struggle may not be the best times to tackle a huge life goal. But, there are always little opportunities to prioritize and be intentional with how we spend our time and energy.
Truth #3 You can gain more control over your schedule, your commitments, your life. The first step is being aware of how you currently spend your time. Sometimes reaching for our phones is just a habit – one that drains our time and energy. Redirecting a mere 15 minutes of this time towards the pursuit of a meaningful goal can go a long way towards forming a new habit and accomplishing the hard thing.
Secondly, outline your priorities. Then, attack anything on your schedule that does not align with your priorities. It’s ok to say no! Be sure to allow yourself grace with this exercise. The goal isn’t being 100% productive all the time, but, instead, baby steps, awareness and intentionality.
Though being of service to others is important, cultivating time for you and what makes you tick is important, too! Carving out space for stillness, or to hustle toward a big dream, or for self care, is something you have the right to do, guilt free. Chase those dreams! Do the hard things! You’ve got this!