You’ve heard this phrase before, probably in a way that made you feel bad about yourself.
Losing weight is hard; being overweight is hard. Choose your hard.
Marriage is hard; divorce is hard. Choose your hard.
Breastfeeding is hard; formula feeding is hard. Choose your hard.
It’s meant to be motivating (at least, we hope there’s a positive intention behind it), but there’s always that underlying implication that one hard is better than the other hard, and you’re not choosing the “right” one. Right?
This is where we get lost, and we don’t just mean we’re lost to the metaphor. We mean we, collectively, all get a little lost when we allow the implications of others’ priorities and opinions to determine our course of action.
Most of us are working, pretty much at all times, toward some goal or another (or ten others). You’re reading this article on a fitness related website, so let’s just step out on this pretty unassuming limb here, and imagine you’re working toward some sort of health/fitness/wellness related goal.
Are you wanting to lose a few pounds?
Get stronger, so you can make it through your day without pain?
Maybe you just want to be able to run around the park with your kids, grandkids or fur kids.
Maybe you want to run a marathon!
Whatever your goal, we know one thing for sure: You’re not stupid.
You know it’s going to be hard. Duh. You also know that your current state – whatever that may be – is hard. Duh, again. (Hence the goal, right?!)
So what makes us choose, again and again, the “hard” we’ve grown accustomed to? Why, as humans, are we so unlikely to change, even though we aren’t happy with where we are?
The answer is only a little less “duh”-like.
The answer is that we choose the familiar hard because it’s ours. It’s known. It’s unsurprising! It’s comfortable. Not in the way that your favorite pair of leggings are comfortable, but in the way you’re comfortable spending a weekend at your in-law’s house. You have a regular spot to plug in your phone, you keep a razor in the bathroom drawer, you know which floorboards creak on the stairs and where the good wine glasses are kept, but you wouldn’t exactly call it your dream destination.
The kind of hard we are used to is what we call our “comfort zone” (even when it isn’t all that comfortable), and it will always have the edge over a new, unfamiliar, outside-of-our-comfort-zone hard.
It is human nature to choose what we know. At all costs, we must protect ourselves from the hidden dangers of the world, right?! For all we know, the rest of the in-laws out there may not have ANY wine glasses at ALL! (gasp!)
The implication of the phrase, “choose your hard,” is that it’s all equally hard, and that simply isn’t true. Science and history and our own life experiences have shown us time and time again that changing is harder than staying the same, even when “the same” is really, really hard.
What does this mean for you and your big goal?
First, it means that you’re ok! It means that you’re normal for struggling to get started. It means you are not alone, you are not broken, you are not incapable. It means: it’s just hard.
Second, it means that you can absolutely do this after all. Knowledge is power! Now that you know that what’s happening to you – being stuck in your comfort zone, even though you’re not comfortable – is normal, totally ok and even expected, you can release the pressure and shame you’ve placed on yourself for feeling this way, and do something about it!
It’s time to face the hard thing head-on, and take some steps to make it easier. Here are our top four suggestions:
- Recruit help. No one is meant to do hard things alone! We believe you can, but that doesn’t mean you should. Gather your troops and loop them in on your plans! (Don’t have any troops? If you’re a SHiNE Online member, our super-supportive Facebook Group is here for you!)
- Gather tools. The tools you’ll need can vary greatly depending on your goal, but sit down and really think about what items could support your success. Maybe a workout tracker? A mirror, to help perfect your form? How about a reminder alarm, a new and delicious pre-workout snack, or a pair of supportive shoes to protect your joints? It’s time for a shopping trip so you can set this stage.
- Make it FUN! Remember our little talk about the “human condition?” We know that it’s hard to get out of our comfort zones, so let’s make it easier on ourselves by adding that extra element of desire. You’ve got to want to do it, and if it ain’t fun… well, you know the rest. If you have a fitness-related goal, you’ve got to find a workout you love doing in order to make it a sustainable part of your life. Might we suggest you find a dance floor near you, to get this party started?!
- Don’t forget what you’ve learned here: It’s going to be hard. Expect bumps in the road, because they’re coming! Expect to take two steps forward and one step back, and make it part of the dance. Be prepared, before you even begin, to give yourself grace when you stumble and to keep going anyway.
Bottom line? Making change is hard. It just is! Staying the same is hard, too. Friends, life is hard no matter which way you slice it, but if you’ve got to choose a new hard, let’s make it easy.
We can do anything, together!