Choices and results: Hard versus easy
In the last column, we looked at adding or making positive changes in our lives versus taking away or making negative changes as New Year's resolutions. To add to that theme this week, how many times do we make the "easy" choice today only to find that we made the "hard" choice tomorrow?
A couple of years ago, I went to a conference where the concept of "hard/easy" was discussed. The theory is that we tend to make decisions to avoid conflict or change in the short term because it is easier than making the hard choice, which can result in hard challenges later.
Here's a simple example. When driving, how many times have we been cut off or forced to make room for another car in our lane only to make the "easy" choice to be angry, honk, flash headlights, etc.? What good does this do for us or the other driver?
We have to consider that the person who cut us off may be going through some personal challenges or other circumstances that resulted in their behavior. Making the easy and typical reactionary choice in this situation only leads to putting negative — hard — energy out into the world, creating stress and tension.
The examples of hard/easy are endless. Think about how easy it is to choose fast food over home-cooked meals. It's easy to keep eating these fast foods today, only to find out later in life that there is a strong potential for developing diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
Not only have these present day easy choices made life harder for individuals, it also places a higher or harder burden on society for having to fund health care to cover the poor for the easy choices of our past.
It's no different for smoking, alcoholism or drug addiction, which are arguably very hard habits to break. If the habits are broken, however, it presumably results in long lasting health.
I preach the hard/easy concept to my kids all the time: Stop procrastinating and get your homework done now (hard), which will free up your schedule to have fun (easy) and be open for opportunities that may surface later.
I personally mastered the easy strategy in college, routinely cramming at the last minute only to suffer come test day.
The funny thing about practicing hard/easy is that usually, the hard choice is not as hard as we built it up to be in the first place. Getting started and gaining momentum on any challenge is half the battle.
Like exercise, it's hard to start — but once you know how good it feels to be fit, it's easy to maintain a lifestyle of fitness.
In all of our endeavors, be they at work, at school or in relationships, hard/easy can be utilized. Initially, it may appear easier to stay in a certain situation or continue a bad habit, but in reality, delaying the hard choice may lead to poor health or unhappiness.
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.