Taking the Path of MOST Resistance

by STEVE BLOOM

I faced a tough choice today.  Should I sit down and relax or write this post despite the fact that I’m tired, not motivated and feel like I could just do it tomorrow?  I was giving myself a lot of reasons to put it off, but I went ahead and started writing anyway.

What’s funny about the whole thing is just how often you run into choices like this.  Pick between doing the hard thing even though you don’t feel like it or take the easier option and forget about it.  When I’m faced with that choice, I always try to go with the harder option.  You can face a lot of resistance taking that path, but it will make your life so much better in the long run.

Doing Things The Easy Way

Something I’ve learned over the past few years is that taking the easier path is usually the worse option.  Look back to my previous example of how I could have decided to put off writing until the next day.  Putting things off is definitely the easier choice, but imagine if I always did that; I’d never get anything written.

The same thing applies for so many areas of life.  It’s easier to just stay home and watch TV instead of going to the gym.  It’s easier to stay in a job you hate instead of quitting and taking the effort to look for something better.  The same goes for doing other things like starting up a business.

Each of these decisions had a path of least resistance and most resistance.  Which one you take is going to profoundly shape the way your life goes.  So ask yourself: “which path am I going to take?”  When it’s all said and done, the harder path, the one that provides the most resistance is almost always the better choice.

The biggest reason to take the path with the most resistance is the fact that all the greatest accomplishments and best tasks take time and effort.  To put it simply, some of the best things in life are hard to do.

Just imagine how your life would turn out if you just decided to take the easiest paths.

  • You’d take whatever job comes your way instead of working hard to get one you love.
  • Never exercising which means you let your body get way out of shape.
  • Instead of building up major accomplishments, you shun them because they are too difficult.
  • All your dreams go unfulfilled because all the effort seems too daunting.

It’s led me to one simple rule: When I’m uncertain what to do and I don’t know what choice to make, I choose the harder path with the most resistance.

Taking the Difficult Path

The cold hard truth about life is not much will come easily to you.  You have to put up with difficulties and put a lot of hard work into overcoming your obstacles if you’re going to achieve anything.  That means making the hard choices.

If I want to get into great shape, I have to get off my butt and go to the gym on a regular basis.  There are going to be days when I just don’t feel like going, but I do anyway.  Other resistance like a busy schedule, tiredness or any number of other reasons might pop up, but I know that the only way to achieve good results is to continue on despite all of it.

The same goes for sitting down and writing.  There are many days I don’t feel like doing it, but I try to get a little writing in every day.  Are there days when I’d rather be doing just about anything else?  Of course, but I do it anyway.  The only sure-fire way to accomplish anything is to do them despite the resistance.

Making the Hard Choices

Taking the easy path will lead you to a boring unfulfilled existence.  That’s why I’ve decided to do the things I want no matter how hard they look.  In fact, I make it a habit to search for things that are both something I want to do and hard simply so I can keep pushing myself harder and do more with my life.

Too many people give up doing something because it is hard to do.  To me, that’s taking the easier path.  Unfortunate as it is, you usually don’t get much out of taking the easy way.  There’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you chose the harder path and made it.

In the end, I like to think of a speech by John F. Kennedy.  When he was talking about his vision to land a man on the moon he said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”  Very wise words.
photo credit: Paul Stevenson

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Comments

  1. I refuse to do anything that I don’t find personally gratifying at that moment. If I force myself to write, I’ll create shit. If I’m inspired to write, my work will be much better. I’ve gone days, even weeks at a time without writing anything. I don’t believe in churning out content for the sake of making noise. If I don’t have something to say, I keep quiet. If I don’t feel like going to the gym, I don’t go. I know my time would be wasted because I’m not motivated and I’d just drag myself from one machine to the next without giving it my all. Life should be enjoyable, and that sometimes means taking the path of least resistence. But, if you always take that path, your life will no doubt be mediocre. You’ll never achieve greatness and never do anything even remotely interesting. Like most things, there’s a balance. In this case, it’s not 50/50…maybe more like 90/10. Do the hard work, be uncomfortable, push yourself hard 90% of the time, and the rest of the time…relax. Breathe. Enjoy all of your hard work. That’s what life’s about, right? Enjoying the fruits of your labor…

    • While I may agree with you that we should do everything that we enjoy; however, sometimes when we do something we enjoy or want to achieve a goal, we have to go through the grunt work and force ourselves to stay focused on the goal or true happiness at the end.

      • I’m not suggesting we totally avoid the hard work (actually, I suggest 90% of the time we do the hard work, 10% of the time we take the easy route.) There will be times when we don’t want to do something, but we know we have to so we hunker down and do it. That’s life. I just don’t think we need to torture ourselves doing things we don’t enjoy just because we’re under some delusion that we must live our lives in a constant state of improvement. Strive for excellence, but at some point enjoy your gains before moving on to the next thing. If you’re always seeking better, you’ll never be satisfied with the progress you’ve made. You’ll be in a constant state of improvement and never just be happy with who you are right now. You’ll always feel inadequate, as if something is missing, something is not right, you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, introspective enough, environmentally friendly enough…you get the point. If you’re always seeking improvement, you have to look at yourself as not being adequate. You always feel like something needs to be changed or better.

        Self-improvement is good. We should all seek to become better people. But at what point do you stop, look around, and say “Hey, things are pretty great. I’m happy with who I am.” At some point on the continuum, we all should reflect on our accomplishments, and enjoy our progress. That means taking a moment to just be. Life shouldn’t be a constant struggle on the path of most resistance. We’re not put on this planet to toil and struggle everyday…even IF doing so would make us a “better” person. We need to recognize “enough” when we see it. Sadly, many of us fail to know when we have enough, are good enough, or are productive enough.

        Do the hard work, but don’t force yourself to do the things you hate just for the sake of being better. Chances are you’re already good enough. Life’s too short.

        I hope this rambling diatribe makes sense and is relevent. Stream of conciousness writing is weird. 😉

        • You make a good point about enjoying what you’ve gained before moving on to the next thing. That’s an important part of progress. I always make time to reflect on how far I’ve come and everything I’ve worked on, but I still keep pushing for more. Mostly that’s because I keep on reaching better levels and I’m curious to see how far I can take myself. I don’t force myself to do things I hate. They’re all things I want to do, but in order to achieve them I have to work through a lot of obstacles.

      • Oh I know what’s it like to force yourself to do grunt work. That’s a good example of pushing yourself to do something you might not be excited about doing. I’ve been there. No matter how hard you try, you can’t motivate yourself to do it so you just have to sit down and work through it until it is all done.

    • I agree that there does need to be a balance. You can’t push yourself all the time every day or else you’d get burnt out. It is good to take days off to enjoy what you’ve accomplished.

      Yet I still think it is good to do things even if you’re not motivated or inspired. Its surprising how often I’ll go to the gym even though I have zero motivation only to find I end up having an amazing workout. The same goes for writing. Those days when I don’t initially feel like writing because I’m not inspired sometimes turn out some of my best work.

  2. Hey Steve,

    well I have to say it’s a really well written post, despite your not feeling up to it (though knowing you as I do, I’d expect nothing less!),

    the thing I find about ‘giving in’ and taking it easy is that the more people do this, the more likely they are to do it again and again, quicker and quicker, more and more.

    Unless of course it’s a conscious decision to take it easy, which is different, definite and definitely worth it.

    When it comes to writing, if you don’t feel up to it, you could always get on with it anyway and at least create something, then come back later and work on the ‘flow’ (for anything creative like writing).

    • You’re absolutely right! There is s huge difference between making a decision to take it easy and just always taking the easy route because it’s easy. We have to do the hard work if we want awesome lives, but we also need to know when to sit back, relax and enjoy what we’ve created for ourselves. It’s just as easy to get locked into a constant state of improvement as it is to always take the easy way out. And when you’re always looking for ways to improve your life, you’re always looking introspectively with a critical eye on yourself and your life. You’re always searching for the negative things to change instead of celebrating the good things. That’s why we need to make the decision every now and again to relax and enjoy life. To just BE!

      • I don’t think there is necessarily a link between constant self-improvement and an inability to celebrate the good things you have. I’m always going to the gym to improve myself, but I’m always amazed at how good of shape I’m in. I take the time to both improve and appreciate. I might be alone in doing that, but I never see myself in a negative way.

      • Thanks Steven!

        it’s the difference between hiding from what needs to be done and choosing to relax or give yourself a break (which everyone needs to do at some point).

        You can still be driven, determined, successful and the best in the world but relax – then you’re just the best in the world at relaxing 😉 (when and for precisely how long you choose to)

        Alan

    • Yeah, there is something about giving in and taking the easy path that makes you more likely to do it again. It’s like a self-reinforcing loop. If you give in one day, you can increase you’re liklihood of taking the easy way out again. For instance, you can skip going to the gym several days in a row before getting back to it. Of course, taking a break and resting is good though.

  3. Steve,
    I could not agree with you more that taking the easier route usually ends in dissatisfaction or unsatisfactory result.

    And although i agree that taking path with greatest resistance is usually the better route, over the years i’ve learned that sometimes it’s ok to take the easy route.

    I used to feel guilty when I did but as of late I give myself permission to take it every once in a while.

    • Yeah, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it if you choose that way. I’d just make sure it isn’t something important you’re giving up.

  4. I agree that it’s better to do what’s difficult rather than putting it off. When I put things off for one day, I sometimes end up putting them off for several, then have to scramble to get stuff done. This is not fun.

    I disagree, however, with your statement that taking the hardest path is always right. Often, I think, things that we find difficult are difficult because they’re not the right thing for us to do. I’ve gone against the flow before and bullheaded my way through some things, only to learn later that it probably would have been best if I’d not done what I did. I’m not talking about things that are clearly good for us, like going to the gym or getting work done. Rather, I’m talking about choosing the right direction in life when the path forks in front of us. I believe in God, and I think sometimes when we find that doing something is very difficult, He’s letting us know that it’s not the right path for us.

    • Hey Sabina,

      I know all about the scramble to get things done after a few days of putting it off. One day turns into several without you trying to make it like that. As long as you get it back on track soon, it’s usually not too bad.

      You have a good point about the hardest path sometimes being the wrong one. I’d give up doing something hard if I suddenly realized it wasn’t good for me too. There’s no sense in doing something wrong for you simply because it is hard. The point is about doing those things you do want despite the resistance.

      Of course, you might not know that going into it. I’d keep going for awhile just to make sure you don’t want to take that path, but as soon as you’re absolutely positive the path is completely wrong for you, you should definitely give it up.

  5. Well,

    I stumbled across this entirely by chance but will respond anyhow.

    The secret of life is live it for yourself, I spent 30 years trying to make everyone around me happy, attempting to live their preordained dreams.

    The bottom line is there is only one dream for a given individual, and that’s your own.

    Not everyone is going to own multiple multimillion dollar homes, yacht’s etc. On the flip side not every one with massive success, will have a family and friends who genuinely love them.

    A person who literally has nothing can still potentially enjoy life in ways that others ignore.

    I can say I survived across the social spectrum I’ve been wealthy I traveled the world, I was a a prisoner once where my entire world was 10 x 12 ft, a soldier, a homeless person, a family man “stepfather”, and utterly alone.

    And regardless of all of that. I woke up this morning out here in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska walked out to my fog covered yard and felt more alive that ever taking in every nuance of color and sound and smiled as I sipped my coffee knowing that every action that I took and will take either (good or bad) will have an undeniable ripple effect through the rest of time and space.

    Whether you actually try anything or not is a moot point the universe irreversibly changed the day each one of us was born regardless of what we try. Best advice just live and if you can live with yourself for doing so all the better.

    Finally the knowing that regardless of what happens to myself. That I was alive, and whatever actions “good or bad” that I took will ripple down through the rest of time and space.

    • Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like you’ve been around and had a wide variety of experiences.

      I agree that you need to live for yourself. No one is going to pursue your dreams or goals for you except you. I think the best we can do is just try to take the right actions and see just what this world has to offer. Whatever we do, our actions will change things around us. Maybe the secret of it all is to just enjoy the ride.

  6. Charnette says:

    I’m SO glad/blessed I came across your site. I’m in a place where it seems as if I’m fighting for my life literally. I need more and desire more. I have so much in me, but find it hard to pull it out, but…. can pull out the best in everyone else. But this week I’m making a vow to myself, with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ PUSH ME AND NO LIMITS OR BOUNDARIES. Reach my goals and fullfill my purpose & destiny. It’s going to take hard work and I think that has always been my problem along with a little fear. But if I don’t go forward I feel like I’m going to die on the inside. SO I’M SO GRATEFUL AGAIN TO COME ACROSS YOUR ENCOURAGING, MOTIVATING AND PUSHING WORDS THAT I NEED SO DESPARTLEY RIGHT NOW.7 Ways to Push Past Your Limits and Realize Your Goals. Taking the Path of MOST Resistance. PLEASE DON’T STOP WRITING, PEOPLE LIKE ME NEED YOUR WISDOM,KNOWLEDGE AND ENCOURAGEMENT.

    THANKS AGAIN
    CHARNETTE
    BLESSINGS, UPON BLESSINGS OVER YOUR LIFE AND ALL THAT YOU SET OUT TO ACCOMPLISH TO FULLFILL YOUR DESTINY.
    GOD BLESS

    • Charnette, it’s so good to hear that those posts have resonated with you. Reaching dreams takes a lot more work than we ever expect. But if we want to reach them, we have to take the hard route, not the easy one.

      Thank your for your awesome comment.

      Steve

  7. This is a good read. I feel guilty on putting off doing the much harder task for an easier one. This post is a reminder to continually push ourselves beyond our limits! Thanks for this.

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