Through my work as a therapist at Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, themes often emerge as I engage with clients about what is happening in their lives. One of the recent themes is around how the choices you make today impact the ease of your future life. In any given situation, from dating, to work, to divorce to even how you raise children—you have choices. When you face the hard choices early and often, you’ll likely have more ease in your life long-term. However, if you make the easy choices upfront, the opposite is true and you may struggle longer in a parallel situation.
In this post, we dive into the simplified truth that easy choices can lead to a hard life whereas hard choices can often result in an easy life long-term. We’ll provide examples of how this might look in your life as you are faced with important decisions and how you can manageably make hard choices for an easier and more fulfilling life.
Putting in the work upfront
Like anything in life, good preparation makes for ease. This applies to everything from being prepared for travel to being prepared for a new baby. Putting in the time, energy, and intention prior to a significant event in your life helps that event unfold more effortlessly.
For a simple example, if you are expecting a baby, you have a few choices during your pregnancy when it comes to preparation. You can dive into books, classes, and forums trying to learn everything you can to prepare (within reason) or you can view this time as your last period of “freedom” and spend all your extra time out with friends. The latter is likely the easier and more fun choice in the short term, but could lead to harder first months with baby. Whereas, making the hard choices to learn, study, and prepare for what to expect might feel like the harder choice in the moment as you say no to social invitations, but it will likely lead to easier first months with the new member of your family. While balance between social time and preparation time is always important, consider how spending more time on the preparation side will lead to a better start for your new family and easier dynamics long-term.
Making tough choices for long-term ease goes hand in hand with clear boundaries that align with your values. When you are clear about what is most important in your life and willing to make the tough choices that align with those values and associated goals, boundaries are a natural part of saying “no” to anything outside of your vision and related intentions.
Let’s take a dating example. Many times, couples will plan a first date or the first set of dates around events that include alcohol. Maybe they’ll meet up for a happy hour, dinner, or attend a concert. These things go hand in hand with drinking and having a little buzz makes getting to know someone less intimidating. Choosing to start a relationship from a place of drinking means you are less clear about your experience and connection with this other person, but it is often the easier path in the short-term as it is fun and entertaining. Therefore, it could lead to difficulty long-term as you try to evaluate the relationship: easy choices, hard life.
On the flip side, when you choose to date without alcohol, you can be more intentional with the kinds of dates you have and present to your experiences. Yes, those dates are often more awkward, possibly more difficult, and likely not as fun or lighthearted. However, when you make harder decisions upfront and hold firm boundaries about how you’ll approach dating, the relationship will likely be easier with time. You’ll have more clarity and richer experiences without alcohol clouding your judgment. You’ll likely make wiser, more intentional decisions about who you choose to continue dating, how fast or slow to take the relationship, and you’ll know when to move forward or move on, with greater ease. Overall, the clarity of dating without alcohol makes the entire dating experience easier.
These are just a couple of examples of how this philosophy applies to life. It also applies to choice points in parenting (e.g., discipline, how you speak to your kids, upholding boundaries and limits), moving in with a partner, marriage, divorce, friendships, work, and health practices - think about the mental torture of deciding whether to hit the snooze button in the morning versus getting to that early morning workout class. As you can see, there isn’t a decision in life that it couldn’t be intentionally applied to. At Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, we strive to bring you insights from our work with dozens of individuals who are often struggling with the same dynamics, in an effort to help you along your path. If you are interested in learning more about our online or in-person therapy, contact us for a free consultation.