“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.” This is my favorite motivational and inspirational quote. It’s from Jerzy Gregorek, a Polish man who went from being an alcoholic to winning four World Weightlifting Championships. The quote originated from his weightlifting experience, but it’s applicable to many areas of life.
Weightlifting athletes constantly push themselves to lift heavier weights. The only way to get stronger is by making it harder. By putting on a little bit more weight than the last time. Progress happens when you are on or slightly over the edge of what you can do. By making it harder for yourself today, you make it easier for yourself in the future. This principle can be applied to everything we do.
Jerzy’s focus is mainly on the physical part of the body. Think about the decision whether to work out. The easy choice is to stay on your sofa and do nothing. But if you always take this easy route, you will never work out and eventually get out of shape. You’ll be more likely to face health issues that could have been prevented if you had taken better care of your body. The easy choice leads to a hard life.
Another example is deciding what to eat. The easy choice is to eat an unvaried diet, perhaps with a lot of fast food. Again, if you keep making the easy choice, you’ll at some point run into health issues. But you can also make it slightly harder now by spending more time and energy to eat healthy. It’s a harder choice today that leads to an easier life in the long run.
You can think of many more health-related examples, both physical and mental. For most of us, the easy choice is to rush through life without taking time to rest. The harder choice is to take some time every day, say 10 minutes, to meditate and quiet the mind. These little daily ‘reboots’ can help you to prevent long-term bigger issues like a burn-out.
We often take the easy choice because we are lazy. Or because we give in to our fears. But almost always, the hard choice is the right choice. Let’s look at some examples.
• Working on that skill you want to get better at (for example public speaking) instead of staying away from it and never improve.
• Having that difficult conversation instead of avoiding conflict and letting it escalate further down the road.
• Taking time to look for a new job instead of being miserable in your current one and not doing anything about it.
• Ending a toxic relationship, which will hurt you today but ultimately improve your life.
It is as Nike keeps telling us: Just Do It. If you can make the hard decision, you will make progress. So train yourself to not always take the easy road. Instead, take that hard decision now to ultimately live an easy life.