It’s easy to take the easy path in life. Everyone knows that, and most of use choose easy 99% of the time.
What most of us don’t know is that taking the easy path hinders your ability to grow.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “The greater the risk, the greater the reward.” This same concept applies to personal growth. The easier you make things, the longer it will take you to grow as a human. This applies to all aspects of decision making in life – family, social relationships, business, sports, etc.
Why? Because easy decisions keep you on a more comfortable and predictable path. Whereas hard decisions present discomfort and uncertainty.
Let’s break that down.
Being Comfortable vs Uncomfortable
When you’re comfortable you don’t experience new things, you just rinse and repeat. You know what to expect and your mind/body don’t have to work much. The comfortable experiences become repetition after a while and life becomes fairly predictable.
On the contrary, when you’re uncomfortable you experience new things with no expectations. This forces your mind/body to work and learn new things, which subsequently leads to growth.
Think of your mind and body as machines. A machine can do a task it already knows with zero effort because it’s already programmed to execute the task. Whereas, asking a machine to execute a new task requires that the machine be re-programmed.
Why should you grow?
I know what some of you are thinking… “What’s so great about growth? I’m perfectly happy as is.”
If that’s the case don’t bother reading the rest of this post. Being content [and complacent] is perfectly fine if you want to live a routine life. You’ll always feel safe and stable with a pretty good sense of what to expect. It will be “fine.”
However, I would encourage you to seek more than fine. That’s what makes life beautiful, interesting and inspiring. There’s SO MUCH to do on this planet, and SO MANY things to experience as a human! Why would you want to limit that?
Growth is the engine that powers us and drives humanity forward. We all incur natural [physical] growth whether we like it or not (from the day we’re born to this moment). However, our personal growth is something we have to nurture. It’s something we have to work on and fuel.
Personal Growth Experiments
If you don’t believe me here are some simple examples for you to experiment with:
Attend a conference by yourself
If you’ve never gone solo to a business conference or event I encourage you to do so. This is a relatively easy experiment that will yield massive growth dividends. There will be initial fear and uncertainty of not knowing anyone, which is natural. However, by facing this fear and uncertainty you’ll embrace discomfort and find immediate growth. You’ll also probably form a new business relationship [or two] which will grow your network.
Say “No” and stick to it
Next time your child throws a tantrum for something they want, tell them “No” and stick to your guns. Send them to their timeout place for hours if you have to. The point is to take the harder route of saying no, since it’s so much easier to say yes in these scenarios. Any parent out there knows what I mean! By saying no and sticking to it you will grow as an authority figure AND teach them a valuable lesson that will shape their future behavior.
Take a cold shower
You probably take a warm/hot shower every morning, especially in the winter. Tomorrow try taking a cold shower instead. It won’t be comfortable, believe me. But you’ll teach your body to deal with discomfort, which is how it grows. A warm shower is repeatable and predictable, whereas a cold shower introduces something new. Again, our mind and body learn when we introduce new things.
None of those examples sound fun. None of them will be comfortable. And none of them will be easy…
That’s exactly the point.
By getting outside of comfort zone, and taking the harder route, you will see growth.
Find Your Balance
Now to be clear, I’m not saying you should always take the hard route. There are definitely times in life to take the easy road. As I parent and entrepreneur I can tell you that first hand. So please don’t misinterpret this for always going hard.
In fact, I would encourage you to slowly introduce new things into your routine. This will help your mind and body adjust to the input of new experiences, instead of bombarding them with tons of discomfort right out of the gate. A very smart man by the name of James Clear wrote a whole book around this, titled Atomic Habits.
The key is finding your balance – the right mix of hard to easy decisions. Experiment with it a bit in your own life and you’ll find yourself with growth soon enough!
Photo credit: Chen Hu on Unsplash
Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.