Over the last few days, I have had a lot of time to reflect on life and wondered why hard times end up teaching us so much more than we can ever imagine, when we glide by, during happier times! As I am presently grounded for the next three months, following a recent surgery, I feel that we spend far too much time focusing on the trivial things in life at the cost of ignoring the more important, hard or difficult things that merit not only our attention, but also a great deal of timely action from us. And yet, how often we choose to wait until time and opportunity both run out, almost forcing the moment to its crisis!
Very recently, a rather unfortunate incident reminded me that building relationships isn’t always easy, because even though it may be fun to hang out with people during fun times, especially when things are all going too well, it’s much harder when things are not perfect, or easy, whatever be the reason. So while spending time with someone is important when it comes to relationships, having difficult conversations is often the most important and yet, the most uncomfortable thing to do and, so people generally avoid it. This does, however, make things only worse.
For most of us, finances happen to be another critical area which warrants our timely attention and ironically, the one where we all generally lag behind. We are usually told to spend less, earn more, and invest. We are reminded to live within a budget, save a sizable amount for securing our future, streamline our outgoings by paying our bills on time and avoiding paying fees and interest, thus optimise expenditure. Perhaps you will agree that these are indeed the most important things, and yet, they’re not always easy. So we defer them, just as we defer that difficult conversation.
Let’s pause for a minute here…so, what if we did spend some valuable time in finding ways to curtail shopping or entertainment or even eating outside), we would make a significant difference! Spending 30 minutes setting up automatic savings or 30 minutes paying bills and automating them for the future could certainly save us a great deal of headache.
We often talk of living in the present and more meaningfully. A few minutes of meditation works wonders for our mind, that is already juggling far too many things than previous generations ever did; struggling with too many chores and stresses, facing a growing number of health issues and emotional and psychological setbacks, every now and then. Most people say that they want to live a more mindful life, and yet, very few actually do anything about it, until they are at diagnosed with a health condition that makes it absolutely essential to do so. Waking up at the brink of disaster, you’d say! Just a few minutes of walking and a few minutes of mindfulness practised every morning can make such a huge difference. One can start with a few minutes and stretch it to a good 20 minutes every day and see how the mind gains its’ focus and alertness to last through another busy day.
Now, what if we took one day…just one day of our limited time and stopped doing all the little things? Instead, what if we focused on the hard, effective things?
We could spend 10 minutes meditating, an hour doing the most important and the hard tasks specific to an area of our life, or a particular skill, or maybe even a situation, as the case may be. Another 20 minutes perhaps in a difficult conversation, another 20 improving our finances. And, a 30 minutes doing a workout, followed by another 30 (or even 60 minutes) preparing healthy food for our day’s meals.
A little over 3 hours of a day, but we’d improve our skill-set leading to enhanced productivity, our finances, our relationship, our mindfulness, health and overall well-being. That’s why it makes perfect sense not to avoid the hard things, no matter how difficult, because more often than not, they are also usually the right things to do.
A few takeaways from this would be:
Step 1. Zero in on what’s the most important to do right now. No procrastination, just a firm commitment. It could be writing a few pages, a hard short workout, paying some important bills. One thing, not all of them. Commit yourself for the next 10, 20 or 30 minutes.
Step 2. Clear all the clutter. Keep a task list for later. Now, all you do is close all tabs, all windows, all notifications. Just you and this one difficult task.
Step 3. Don’t find an escape, pin yourself down to your desk until the task is done. Your mind will want to run from whatever is difficult, because you have an ideal vision about life that will be comfortable and easy and pleasant. Instead, focus on the real thing before you, face it and finish it. You’ll be the happiest person once you have left it behind, done and dusted.
Step 4. Enjoy the hard task — instead of thinking about how horrible it is, think about how amazing it is that you can work on something hard and difficult. And a pat on the back once you’ve done it.
All I can tell you is that this works for me, especially No. 3. Please do give it a try and let me know how you got on with it. I’d love to know your experiences on this one.
Or, if you have a better method that works, I’d love to hear from you.
Linking this post to the #MondayMusings prompt by WriteTribe.