Do the Hard Things

hardthings

Today is a hard day.  Today I have to do something that I dread.  Just the thought of it makes my stomach queasy and my heart race.  To other people what I have to do today may not seem hard, but for me, it is one of the hardest…

It doesn’t matter what it is, to me this is a hard thing.  It is something that I have to do, in fact I am required by law to do, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  This thing fills me with so much fear that I avoided doing it for a whole year and then it caught up with me and now it is even harder.  I had hoped that by sticking my head in the sand and flying under the radar that I could go on living in denial, but things don’t happen that way, eventually it catches up with you.

When we do the hard things we actually free ourselves.  When we avoid the hard things they become like chains around our necks and they drag us down.  I thought that by ignoring this particular hard thing, my life would be easier…but it wasn’t.  I didn’t sleep properly, I worried constantly and there was always this haunting feeling surrounding me, waiting for the other shoe to drop and then it did and it was bad and now I have to live with the consequences.

I pride myself on the way I face up to my responsibilities, even when they are hard, but in this one area I failed.  Instead of doing the hard thing, I hid from it and my hard-fought integrity took a hit.  I allowed the fear to rule me, I allowed the fear to win.  I allowed the fear of the hard thing to stain my character and to rob me of my honesty and integrity.  I allowed fear to change me.

Change that is born from fear is never a good thing.  When fear dictates your actions, it eats away at you little by little until all that remains is a husk of your former self.  Fear steals the very essence of who you are and robs you of your potential.  Do the hard things.

Doing the hard thing strengthens you, it reinforces your character and integrity and it changes you…for the better.  With every decision to do the hard thing when you could do the easy thing, you become a better person, a better partner, a better student, a better spouse, a better human being.  Doing the hard thing makes your life easier.

And when you’ve done that hard thing, when you have faced your fear and stood your ground…reward yourself.  Give yourself a pat on the back and say, “Well done” because doing the hard thing isn’t easy and we need to be proud of ourselves when we stand up to our fears.  You’ve done a hard thing, now be kind to yourself…chocolate helps.

Living the Dream

We all have a dream.  It is what makes us get out of bed in the morning, it is what keeps us going through the hard times; that hope, that belief that one day, someday, our life will be different.  We all dream of a better life where there is no pain, no struggle, no hardship…but what if you have found your dream and there is still pain, there is still struggle and there is still hardship?  Does achieving your dream really mean that you get to coast for the rest of your life?  And really, what does “living the dream” actually mean?

I am a romantic; a visionary.  I dream a lot of dreams and see visions of the future as if they were real, but the reality of achieving those dreams and realising those visions is not what I’d imagined.  The work doesn’t stop when you achieve your goal, when you hold that dream in your hands, in reality, the work has only just begun.

This happens to me time and again.  I work toward my dream, I sacrifice and suffer for my dream.  I work through all the obstacles with my faith and hope intact until finally, finally, I have it in my hand and I am left bewildered, astounded and a little miffed.  This dream, this vision that I have worked and strived for that was supposed to make my life easier has totally exploded in my face.  I have achieved my goal, but instead of feeling like I have won the race, I feel like the race has only just begun.

You see, all that striving, all that sacrifice and suffering that I lived through and persevered through to reach my dream…that was all just training.

In the past when I have reached this point I have given up.  I have looked at the reality of the dream and have wondered where I went wrong.  This wasn’t what it looked like in my vision.  In my vision, when I had achieved my goal, it would be all smooth sailing and it isn’t, so, that must mean this isn’t my dream.  I have been side tracked somewhere along the way and although this looks like my dream, it mustn’t be it because if this was my dream it wouldn’t be so hard!

What I am now starting to realise is that achieving your goals and reaching your dreams does not mean the end of the struggle.  All that went before, all that pain and suffering and training is just preparation for living your dream.

My son is a runner.  He has a dream to run a marathon.  He trains every day…he runs every day.  He has spent months running.  He tries to run further every day and he tries to do it in a shorter amount of time every day.  He is continually pushing himself past pain and struggle to train his body and his mind for the marathon.  When he finally stands on the starting line for that marathon he will have achieved his dream…but to live that dream he is going to have to put his body through more pain and more struggle than he ever had to while he was training.  Achieving the dream is not enough, he needs to live the dream; run the marathon and reach the finish line.

Living the dream is hard.  We see friends post on Facebook that they are ‘living the dream’ when in reality, they are on a holiday or it is a snapshot of a moment where they feel an accomplishment.  That is not living the dream; that is enjoying the dream.  Living your dreams is about getting your hands dirty; rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in.  It is not easy and it is not always fun but…there are moments, sometimes only rare glimpses when you feel that this is what you were put on earth to do.

So many dreams are aborted too early because of the pain and struggle it takes to achieve them.  Other dreams are abandoned just after they are finally born because the reality of the dream did not match the vision of the dream.  Like a mother giving birth, the pain of the labour is soon forgotten when you hold the baby in your arms.  For that moment all the struggle has been forgotten as you look at the miracle that you hold.  But that is just a moment.  The reality of having a child is very different.  There is still pain and struggle and heartache as you rear that child.  Living your dream is the same…there is more work to do, not less.  There are more obstacles to overcome and holding onto to your faith and your hope is more important than ever.

As I write this, I am living my dream and I am realising that it is really, really hard.  There are moments when I feel accomplished and fulfilled, but there are still times when I feel completely overwhelmed and inadequately equipped.  There are days that I ponder the saying ‘be careful of what you wish for’ and then there are days when I can’t imagine doing anything else.  There is a constant tension, a pulling in opposite directions and a very fine line between success and failure.  Living your dream means making hard decision, it means growing as a person, it means doing things that scare you.

Living the dream is not rainbows and lollipops, sometimes it is more rain than rainbows and more cavities than lollipops, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.  Yes, living the dream is hard work but what would you rather do?  Living someone else’s dream is harder and living with no dream at all is even worse.  Yes, living the dream is hard, dirty, sometimes frustrating, heartbreaking and tough, but when you hold that baby in your arms and look into his adoring eyes, even if the house is a mess and you haven’t showered in days, it all melts away when you realise that you are, in fact, living your dream.

Photo Credit: iStock