10 Hard Things You Need to Do to Live a Full Life


Hard Things You Need to Do to Live a Full Life

In order to get the most out of life, you have to do hard things.

Do things that frighten you or make you uncomfortable. Do things you always wanted to do, but didn’t think possible. Later in life, it’s these decisions that will mean the most to you.

We have the power to define our lives and determine our paths.

We can choose the path of least resistance. But avoiding hard things leads to stagnation and mediocrity. What good will it do if it doesn’t get us the most out of the time we’re given?

Then there is the path of most resistance. Face down all your fears and excuses so that nothing is standing in your way. Confront internal and external obstacles so that you get the most out of life.

Life’s short. You can’t spend too long in your comfort zone. It’s time to stop taking the easy path and do the hard things that will make your life a lot grander and much more fulfilling.

Here’s where to get started:

1. Move ahead by leaving the past behind

Most of us have things in the past that we wish had gone differently. Bad choices might have been made or opportunities missed. Memories of what might have been can haunt you and fill you with negativity.

Life isn’t meant to be lived in the past. That time is over. All you can do is accept what has happened, learn from your mistakes and move on. You can’t jump fully into the future with one leg still stuck in the past.

2. Be who you are – not who the world wants you to be

We all want to be liked and accepted by the people around us. We’re social animals and want to feel like we belong.

But this need to fit in can make it difficult to figure out who we are as individuals. At some point, we have to make our own way – one that’s more true to ourselves.

Never sacrifice who you are simply to fit in or only because it’s expected of you. At best, you’ll feel frustrated. At worst, you’ll feel like you’ve turned your back on an important side to your personality.

3. Distance yourself from negative thinking

We are often our own worst critics. It’s amazing how harsh our thoughts and ideas about ourselves can be. Negative thinking can infect your mind like a virus and undermine your actions and plans; you’ll doubt yourself and feel pessimistic about everything you do.

Having faith in yourself is extremely important if you want to get anywhere in life. The whole world can doubt you as long as you believe in what you’re doing. But the minute you let negative thinking inside and undermine your actions, you’ve already lost.

4. Live an “examined life”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

Life is more than a daily routine with the biggest question being what we’ll have for dinner that night.

There are so many bigger questions to think about. What’s the meaning of life? What does it mean to be human? Why is the world the way it is? What’s my purpose of living?

These questions guide us and provide deeper awareness. It’s about looking closely at ourselves and the world around us to get a greater understanding about the meaning of it all.

5. Recognize that every moment of your life is slowly slipping away

I like to think of time as the constant “click, click, clicking” of the second hand on a clock, steadily moving forward and slipping away forever.

It’s easy to dismiss those small increments of time as too short and insignificant to matter. But each click represents a distinct moment of time that’s too precious to ignore.

And really, that’s all life is: a series of moments. Our task is just to recognize what to do with each of those moments so we spend those clicks wisely.

6. Worry less about what people think of you

As you go through life, you’ll meet many naysayers, doubters and judgmental-types who want you to care what they think. But caring too much what others think will only slow you down – you’ll start to watch your steps – you’ll be less ambitious and take fewer risks.

Letting go of the worry about what people think of you is freeing. You’ll take more actions and follow your dreams without the added concern of what others are thinking.

7. Stop looking for external recognition

It’s an innate human desire to be recognized. We all want others to notice how smart or talented we can be. But this desired for recognition can be taken too far.

When our actions are too focused on recognition from others, we give power away.

Instead of doing something for our own personal satisfaction, we do it because it will please others. We perceive how well we do based on how they see things, not how we see them.

Look inward. Decide what makes you happy and what gives your life meaning. The only person you need to be accountable to is yourself. Don’t let others have power over your actions.

8. Understand that you get out of life what you put in

Life is a series of choices – each one building on the other. What we decide to do determines what we get out of out of the time we’re given.

Sitting on the couch all day long watching TV will rarely build up to anything worth mentioning later in life.

You have to do something in order to get more out of life. Take a long-shot chance on something or take that first step toward a crazy dream. All our decisions can build something memorable if we let them.

9. Stand up for yourself and what you want

Some people will walk all over you if you let them. They’re too concerned with their own personal gain to notice how it’s affecting you. Do not just let this happen.

Stand up for yourself and tell people when they’re doing something wrong. If you don’t let the people around you know what you want, they’ll never know.

10. Develop mental toughness

Those who are tough enough to handle mistakes and failures are the ones who will do the most with their lives. They’re the ones who can bounce back and keep moving forward; they win simply because they don’t let anything stand in their way.

Don’t focus too much energy on avoiding losses; you’ll only end up avoiding risks and minimizing your potential. Focus more on being able to take the emotional hit of a major failure with little loss to enthusiasm. If you can experience the greatest failure in life and still keep moving forward, you will be unstoppable.
photo credit: kelsey hannah

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  1. 2 and 9 are the most difficult, right? But once you get them, they’re the most rewarding!

    Perhaps they appeal to my values the most – a life without authenticity is a life wasted.

  2. Steve,

    It’s a great list. We have a choice in life to go with the flow – like the dead fish – and get stuck in ruts so deep we’re on autopilot. This is leading a life defined by someone else.

    Or we can cut our own paths.

    I think why your list is hard is that you’ve got to keep working at them. But as you say sitting on the sofa doesn’t get you anywhere good.

    • Yeah, you have to keep working on them. They’re not things that you can just do once and be done. They’re things that you have to keep working on.

  3. Be who you are 100%! I think people get so caught up on trying to live up to other people’s expectations, trying to make other’s happy. But in the end that doesn’t leave you too pleased.

    I think you should also let go of your fears. Chances are what you truly want is what you’re not used to. You’ll have to get over your fear of it to achieve it, then you’ll be satisfied.


    • Overcoming fear is important too. It’s amazing how many things in my past I didn’t do because of fear. Just being able to get over fear has helped me accomplish so much more with my life.

  4. Great post Steve,

    So many people are held captive by their past. We have to remember while moving forward (and away from our past). It can be difficult but it’s rewarding.

  5. These are all challenging and difficult things to do, but all important to really live the life you want. And they do have to be cultivated, not just thought about once, then pushed aside.
    I love the quote about the examined life – great one. Some of my favorite writers were ones who lived an “examined life” – Franklin, Edwards, Thoreau. Proof that it’s a good process!

    • There’s something about that quote that’s always stuck with me. I think it’s great to keep in mind since there are so many big questions to consider.

  6. I would love to work on number 10 a lot more. It seems to be the most difficult thing for me to accomplish. I like to think that it is doable.

  7. Steve – 6 & 7 is where it’s been at for me the last couple of years. Moving way way away from what others think and listening more to my internal voice. THat’s how I was able to get out of the profession I was doing. That’s how I was able to stay more open in my writing and in my blog. A few years ago I cared a lot about what people thought but I’ve been able to move past that and it’s changed my life. I now operate from the inside out instead of the outside in and have found my true power.

    • It’s good to hear that listening to your internal voice has been working out for you. That change helped me out too; it’s important to listen to yourself and what you want out of life.

  8. 2 out of 5 most common regrets of dying people considers being authentic to yourself.
    So your diagnose is right on the spot Steve, as many of your points relates to the same issue.

    I would add “confront your fears” to the list, although some of your points tackles this issue indirectly. For example looking for external recognition usually comes from the fears and insecurity.

    • Yeah, fear can hold us back. It’s hard to look back on something you didn’t do because you were too afraid. Many of these issues do tackle it indirectly simply because I think it’s better to look at fear from the source.

  9. I coudn’t agree more!

  10. For me, the hardest one is the external validation. From a young age we are taught to work for good grades, and to do well in sports, to be the best speller or win the scholarship/admission to a top school/spot in the choir. All of these are external measures of success and much easier to judge than intrinsic ones.

    • I agree that we often focus too much on external measures of success – I think that goes for both young adults and older people too. It’s just easier to look at what we get and measure our success based on some external reward. It’s a tough thing to get out of.

  11. a lot of this useful but to be honest kinda sounds to much like some fake ass bull shit if you found the right word to describe this information maybe this article would not sound like a wanna be phoilipher that is not very good so they steal shit from the secret.

    • Ok…I don’t know quite how to respond considering that this post has nothing to do with philosophy. It also has nothing to do with The Secret.

  12. Good post Steve. I’ll soon be leaving a job of 24 years (yes, a long time huh) because I got myself stuck in the comfort zone, and, found I was starting to count down to retirement, instead of enjoying life. In January, I’ll be self employed, and will start a six month round the world trip – it is something that I have wanted to do for so long. Sometimes you have to break free, and take risks in life – I’m documenting my experiences on Youtube, I’m excited.

    • That’s great to hear. I have some friends who are doing the same thing – quit their jobs and are traveling around for six months. It’s an exciting and crazy thing to do. Risks like that can make life so much more interesting.


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