Times The Hardest Thing Is The Right Thing
“Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” I believe that is a lyric from a song by The Fray. It’s almost correct. But if I could change it a little, it would be to say that most times the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Reward never comes without sacrifice right? And since there is reward in the feeling of knowing you have done the right thing, then naturally, you probably had to do something hard first. If this concept were more mutually and universally understood by all, I think a lot more people would have easier lives. Well, easier in a sense.
So many individuals feel stuck, and it is all because they don’t want to do the hard but right thing. They don’t want to do the thing that today feels difficult, but once it was done would make every day so much easier. They would rather stay in a situation that is wrong because getting out of it would require doing something uncomfortable or frightening. People will stay in the wrong job, the wrong friendship, the wrong relationship because doing the right thing is scary. It can mean breaking hearts. It can mean breaking your own heart. It can mean letting people down. But we have to remember that sometimes, we need to do something a little painful today to prevent much worse pain tomorrow.
Once you adapt that philosophy into your life, it becomes easier to do the right thing. You have to train your brain to avoid all the excuses as to why you should stay comfortable and settled, and why you just have to do what you know is right—what you know is true. But, at first, it can feel very hard. Here are times the right thing is also the hardest thing to do.
Breaking an engagement
Oh my goodness. This is a really tough one. You announced to the world that you believe this person is the one. You got your parents excited thinking that your days of searching and dating weirdos are over. You have friends excited and eager to plan the wedding. And you have your fiancé, who thinks everything is dandy, while you know this is not the person for you. Maybe you got engaged for the wrong reasons.
It’s better than calling it off later
So how long are you going to play this thing out? Are you going to allow friends and family to spend thousands of dollars on a sham wedding? Are you going to allow friends and family to use all of their precious vacation days to come to the wedding that you don’t even want to have? That you may call off the day of? You cannot pretend to be happy forever. It’s much better to call it off now before there have been major expenditures on everyone’s part.
Getting a divorce
If you have already been married for a long time and have come to the conclusion that this marriage is just not right for you, it can be so difficult to ask for a divorce. It affects so many more people than just you and your partner. And you never ever wanted to be someone who went through a divorce. It can feel it’s easier to just stay in a loveless marriage with the routine you are used to than go through a divorce.
You only get one life
Are you really going to blow your life committed to someone you are wrong for, all because you don’t want to upset your parents? Change your reputation? Look for a new home? Are you actually going to forfeit the most precious important and special experience of life a.k.a. having a true love all because of these surface factors?
Letting a friend go
Sometimes you find yourself in a one-way friendship. You know that the other person wants this friendship far more than you do. You feel bad not taking her calls or making plans with her. Perhaps she is dependent on you and quite needy. You don’t want to abandon her. But this friendship has started to feel more like a job than something you enjoy.
Give her a chance to grow
You may think you’re doing this person a favor by pretending to be her friend, but you aren’t. You are completely dishonoring the trust she is putting in you. You are lying to her every day you’re in the friendship. And, if she does need to learn to change her behaviors in order to have a healthy friendship, she will never learn if nobody tells her. If you care about this person but just don’t want a close friendship, the most caring thing you can do is stop the lie. Let her go.
It can be so difficult to admit that you have dedicated possibly several years if not more than a decade and so much energy to what turned out to be the wrong career for you. You feel it in your bones. You were not put on this planet to do this thing. But, it can be easier to stick it out, because you came this far. You think maybe you will just spend your whole life at a job you don’t like rather than shock everyone, quit, and start from the bottom at something new.
If you are alive, it is not too late
It’s funny people talk about it being too late to try something. They will say they are too old to start a new career. They will say their time has passed to pursue their dreams. Let me put it in this dark way: if you died and you were a ghost, ghost you would feel very stupid for not going after her dreams while alive at any age. If you are alive, it is not too late.
Starting from the bottom
This deserves it’s own attention. Sometimes people don’t switch careers not because they feel they are too old but because they don’t want to start from the bottom. They don’t want to take the pay cut. They don’t want to lose their status. They don’t want to be a coffee runner or an assistant. Their pride is in the way. And pride is powerful.
Being successful at something you hate will never feel good
All of the money or status or respect that comes from an industry you don’t love will never feel as good as even the smallest achievement in an industry you love feels. Nothing compares to knowing you are on the right path, even if you have to start at step one. If you really want to fully enjoy respect and money and status, you have to earn it in a career you care about. You will not enjoy it in any other career.
If you become aware of infidelity happening to someone you love deeply, like your best friend who is married, or your parent, you will face a major dilemma. You know that telling this person will blow up her life. Everything she has known will change. It may mean a divorce for her. It may mean moving out of her home. You don’t want to bring this pain to her.
You didn’t cause the pain
The cheater caused the pain. And, the truth is, if infidelity is happening, there is a very strong chance the couple is already unhappy. It is very rare you will find infidelity in a couple that is otherwise incredibly happy. You owe it to your friend or family member to tell her the truth. It is up to her what she does with that truth. She can take it from there, and it may be her choosing between the right thing and the easy thing. That is okay. Do not feel bad for putting her in that place. You didn’t put her there. The cheater did.
Ending it before cheating
If you know you are with the wrong person and you have found someone else you think you could be happy with, it can be so hard to say that to your current partner. You just look at him and he is blissfully unaware that his situation is a lie. You almost want to just cheat because in a way you feel like you’re doing your partner a favor by letting him maintain the life he is used to.
You are holding him captive
All you are doing is getting yourself off the hook from being the villain. You have to accept that your partner might hate you if you leave him. But that is a sacrifice you make in order to let him go so he can be free to find someone who really loves him. Sometimes you have to be the bad guy to be the good guy.
Doing the hard thing gets easier
Once you make a habit of it, it gets easier. Once you make a hard and fast rule for yourself to live the truth, and pursue the truth, even if that means difficult changes and uncomfortable conversations, you get better at living that way. In fact, you will feel sick if you don’t live that way. Staying in a situation that is wrong, but easier, won’t sit right with you.