How to Do a Hard Thing

Hard things suck, don’t they? It seems like everything you ever wanted, needed, or was ever good for you involved doing a hard thing to get it. Most people, not being able to leave their comfort zone, simply don’t do the hard thing. They do whatever’s easiest at the time and they never get the girl but they get a girl, they never get in shape then die of a heart attack, and never quit their crap job and start the company they’ve been rambling about for years but instead continue to work at CrapCo until they downsize and everyone loses their pensions. The hard thing is hard and it’s always something easier said than done but it’s always doable. This is how I’ve come to do the hard things.

There’s no escaping time

I’m no different than anyone else (except in the ways that I am). It takes me time to do the hard thing. In fact, I think it’s totally normal for it to take time. I don’t think anyone wakes up and says “Today I want this thing and today is the day I start these specific steps to get it”. Rather, the real process goes something like:

  1. Realize there’s something you want/need/can improve

  2. Weigh its importance, think of how to attain the thing

  3. Wait. Think. Think and wait.

  4. Take action or regret not taking action

The first thing I’ve learned about doing the hard thing is that one needs to be prepared for how long it takes to achieve. You also have to remember that there most likely will be time between the initial desire for the thing that is hard to attain and taking action to attain it. It’s okay to take time but there is such a thing as taking too long, which leads me to my next point.

Do you really want this?

Taking too much time to take action is a sure sign that you either don’t want the hard thing or you’re willing to live without it because, basically, you’re a pussy.

For those who aren’t total pussies

For anyone who isn’t a total pussy, you may experience a period where you think of the thing you want and plan and think and wait and soon you’re getting upset at yourself for not having done it already. That’s good. Then you have to actually do it or fall into the pussy-zone, or the PZ as us pros call it.

You should know the hard thing sucks. It takes time. It’s stressful. There will be a lot of failures between starting and finishing. At the same time it’ll feel good. You’ll feel that you’re on the right track. You won’t have any real proof at first, just a gut feeling. Listen to that feeling. You’re in for a long, hard haul but it’ll be worth it. If things aren’t both long and hard (yeah, I know, that’s what she said) then you’re not doing anything hard at all and just deluding yourself. If this is you then you’re the worst kind of pussy and I rarely use that word and never use it lightly.

Story time

Before I started Clever Web Design I was a fry cook with a coding hobby. I spent years absolutely hating my job and life and wishing I could be like some of those smart people I saw on TV and online. Then one day I left my job in a moment of pure bravery or stupidity depending on who you ask. I was forced to either sink or swim. I swam and now I have 3 jobs, only 1 of which I had to actively seek out. Now I have people asking me to work for them rather than me asking them for a job.

Before I started I was a PHP developer and front-end designer and I sucked at both pretty badly. One day I picked up my tools and hacked together an open source beta version. People signed up and used it! Then I picked up some new tools I’d never used before and completely rewrote it again from scratch, the right way. Then even more people signed up! The whole process has taken me two years but as time went on progress came faster and at a steadier pace.

Any time I’ve ever had to do a hard thing there was a period of not knowing where to begin, then beginning anywhere at random, then iterating, taking stock of things, and finally being successful at it but not before failing a bunch of times in between.

Self improvement, Thoughts

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