Something shifted in my perspective several months ago.
I was complaining to my husband about how the right way to do things was always harder, lamenting that I was so lazy and prone to taking the easy way out like the rest of humanity, when he shocked me by saying, “Actually, the right way is most often the easy way in the long run. It just seems hard in the short term. It’s about your perspective.”
He’s right! Think about it: eating right and exercising seems like the harder way to do things, at least for me. But that’s just because it’s more time consuming and expensive in the short term. I have to cook, buy fresher — often pricier — food, plan my meals ahead of time, etc. That seems harder. But the truth is, in the long term, doing those things is SO much easier (and cheaper) than being sick and miserable later on in life. It’s far easier to make a few good decisions each day than to have to battle the consequences later on.
The same thing goes for my house. I always procrastinate doing the dishes. I just leave them in the sink thinking it’ll be easier to just do them all at once later. WRONG. By the time I get around to it, they’ve all built up and it takes forever, and most of the time I can’t even finish them in one load, so I end up having a sink that is constantly full and a cabinet that is constantly empty. The easy way would be to take care of each item, one at a time, as needed.
We’ve even talked about this concept before in my job. As a manger, so many times it’s easier to avoid giving regular feedback because it’s awkward or difficult, and often feels petty or nit-picky. But the truth is, it’s so much easier to consistently provide folks with little pieces of feedback, rather than letting those little errors build up over time until they cause a real problem that requires a big sit down talk. Or, in reverse, it’s much easier to get defensive and ignore feedback from our coworkers in an attempt to protect our own feelings. But in the long run it makes our lives more difficult when we make it hard for others to communicate with us, or if we refuse to allow ourselves to learn and grow. Being open about giving and receiving feedback also lessens anxiety in the workplace, because we all know that we’re being upfront with each other on a regular basis, rather than saving all our concerns and criticisms to be unleashed at an annual performance review.
The same perspective can be applied to relationships too — it feels easy to just gloss over the little things that hurt your feeling or drive you crazy, but if you don’t deal with them as they come up, they eventually build up into a great big fight that your poor partner never sees coming. And when things get heated, it feels easy to say the first cruel thing that pops into your head, but it actually makes your life much harder as you have to spend considerably more time rebuilding a relationship than you would have if you’d just had the self-control to keep your comments civil.
I don’t know about you, friend, but I’m resolving to do things the easy way. To take care of my body. To do the dishes. To be open about feedback. To communicate clearly, regularly, and honestly. And to remind myself that this way – the right way – is actually the easy way.
I’m interested to hear your experiences. What ways have you found that you’ve been inadvertently taking the hard way out? Feel free to shoot me an email, or leave a comment below.