Life is hard.  We can’t predict what the tough times will look like, but we can predict that times will be tough.

You might be a young mother whose child is only 4, and your husband dies after battling cancer for the last 3 years. You might be a recent high school graduate, with a baby. You could be a widow whose children live so far away, that annual visits are all you get. Whether the challenge life presents you with is financial, health, death, love or work related – it is a trial.

In my experience the most agonizing part of life’s hardships are the unknown. Questions like, how long will this last, why me, how did this happen, what am I going to do now, who can I turn to for help – all dominate our thoughts.

While we can’t predict the tough times, we can choose to do optional hard things to prepare us for the unknown. Some may ask why on earth we would choose to do hard things, when life by itself is already hard.  Here is a  list of 8-reasons, off the top of my head, why we should all be actively choosing to do hard things:

  1. Builds self-confidence
  2. Prepares us to tackle the un-predicted hardships
  3. Enables us to go about life with greater optimism
  4. Increases our capacity to serve others
  5. Helps us face difficulty with faith, not fear
  6. Expands the perception of our own capabilities
  7. Extends our ability to have compassion for others
  8. Gives clarity to what is most important in life

Somewhere between 2008 and 2009 money did not flow very well for me. I drove an old car and it became apparent that if I wanted to keep it I would have to invest in car repairs or do the repairs myself.

Buying a new car was not an option. This was kind of a low time in my life. My self confidence was not high and I had a lot of self-doubt. I chose to do the car repairs. Guess what? I learned that I was really good at figuring things out and fixing cars. Those two years I made a number of pretty big car repairs all on my own, including replacing a brake line. This did wonders for my self confidence.

One of the biggest lessons I learned though, is the that toughest part about doing something hard, was believing I could do it and starting. Once I believed I could do it, and actually got started, things really were not that hard. Instead of doing hard things, it became doing things I had never done before.

The mindset shift from doing hard things to doing new things is a dramatic shift in thinking and quite often, the biggest determining factor in how well you do the hard things.

Before I go any further I want to clarify something. I do not believe for one moment that choosing to lose 100 pounds prepares your for the death of child, or choosing to become a triathlete all of sudden makes you ready to to tackle cancer. But what it does do is help you face those excruciating moments with a little bit more of optimism and faith in yourself. Sometimes just a little bit more, makes a really big difference.

When talking about this with my wife, she mocked me a little. My wife has a series of medical conditions, and to say the least, she is always doing hard things. So what about her. Should she try to do something hard. Should she take on an additional challenge? I have thought a lot about this and my answer is yes. Here is why: When hardships are put upon us, we are focused on overcoming. When we take on hardships, we are focused on becoming.

When we overcome hardships is it is possible to gain self confidence, clarity, an increase in faith and more? Of course it is.

Overcoming is:

  • Reactive
  • Self-preserving
  • Often a necessity

Becoming is:

  • Proactive
  • Self Improving
  • A choice

Both overcoming and becoming are vital parts to living a fulfilled life. If we don’t overcome, we will always be a victim. If we never become, we will never realize our true potential.

So what do you say? Will you become with me? Let’s do hard things.

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