I often see people follow the “easy” path in life. The “path of least resistance.” They avoid hard work. They avoid responsibility. They get by doing as little as they possibly can in every situation. They may survive for a while. They may fool people for a while. They may charm people for a while. Over time, the only steps they seem to take are down. A little one here; a little one there. It adds up. Eventually, their life heads downhill fast and they are “in a hole” and need to climb out.
There’s a reason all the success terms involve climbing and heading up (“climb the mountain,” “climb the ladder,” “reach the pinnacle”) and all failure terms involve heading down.
Success in anything involves hard work. It’s a slow, steady, one step at a time process. Moving up, fighting gravity and exhaustion. Take the classes and study at night to get ahead. Save the money instead of buying a new car to save for retirement. Eat out one night a week instead of two so you can pay some bills. Work extra hard to do an amazing job on a project and get noticed. At some point on the path, you may find a view you like and you can slow down, that’s okay. The fact is, the good views are always somewhere on the way up.
The opposite is also true. Following the path of least resistance can be fun for a while. When I was a kid, I loved running down a hill or mountain; the speed and thrill. I felt so light I was almost flying. But all so soon, it was over. I had to turn around and head back up. Only this time, I had a lot further to go and the people that kept climbing were way ahead of me and really hard to catch. I had to work much, much harder to make up ground.
So remember, when you’re coasting, you can only coast heading in one direction … downhill. When you have a choice to make — easy or hard path — the hard path can seem tough at the time, but over the long haul, it’s usually a lot easier than having to walk the path twice.