Everybody wants to take the easy path to feeling good about life.
Everyone wants to be carefree and happy where life is easy. Fall in love. Have amazing sex. The perfect relationship. Look beautiful, make money and be popular. Be well respected and admired by many. Have the courage to get what you want in life.
Everyone wants all of this.
If I was to ask you, “What do you want from life?” the easy answer would be some combination of what’s above. Many people will tell you that this is the first step to getting it.
Yet there’s a much better question to ask if you want to get what you want.
The question you may not have considered before is this:
“What are you willing to struggle for?”
It’s easy to want to have an amazing job without financial obligations. But not many people will suffer through the work required to build up your expertise in an area so that you can learn how to create value. This doesn’t come overnight or from wanting it. It takes long hours of work, tremendous amounts of paper work, navigating arcane corporate hierarchies and dealing with obnoxious people.
It requires not just knowing what you want, but understanding what you’re willing to risk to get there.
Everyone wants to have a great relationship. But are you willing to have the tough conversations when you don’t see eye to eye with your partner? Are you willing to go through the emotional drama as you figure out who you really are and how to deeply connect with someone else?
Most people aren’t willing to do any of this. So they end up settling in a relationship that is easy because it’s doesn’t challenge them, yet doesn’t blossom into something enduring and deeply meaningful.
The truth is that success requires struggle. Happiness takes time and effort. Love is scary and requires work on yourself.
Many people avoid the negative experiences that come with struggle and end up dating many people over a long period of time without ever really settling. Or they move from job to job, leaving just when the going gets tough.
Positive experiences are easy to handle. That’s why everyone offers the advice to “think positively”. What’s much more difficult is deciphering the life you want to live and enduring the challenges as you create the conditions to live that life.
You want to have an amazing physique. Are you willing to go through the pain of spending hours at the gym, pushing your body past its comfort zone?
You want to be a successful entrepreneur. Have you met an entrepreneur who hasn’t been through hard times? Who hasn’t learnt how to survive the struggle and thrive?
You want to have a beautiful relationship. Are you willing to go through the emotional turbulence of putting yourself out there and getting rejected? Waiting someone to text you who never does? You can’t win if you don’t play the game.
It doesn’t matter what you want from life. Everybody wants something. What matters is that you want it enough to endure the struggle.
I learnt this the hard way when I created Ideapod over four years ago. I quit my PhD and – filled with confidence that was continually affirmed by an education system that was easy for me to game – I assumed that the game of entrepreneurship would be easy.
Boy, was I wrong.
The last four years has been a constant string of failures, punctuated by regular enough indications that we’re heading in the right direction that we’re still going.
I thought it would be a lot easier. I underestimated how complex this is.
It’s not simply a matter of designing a product, getting it built and then marketing it to users. All of this requires building a team, convincing investors in the vision, and creating designs. Then you build it and it fails.
That’s been the history of Ideapod, and it’s gotten us to this point: a social network with over 50,000 members, a blog that reaches over 2 million people each month and thought leadership programs being run with some incredibly inspiring companies.
I’m happy with how far we’ve come, but there’s a long way to go. We’re not successful yet. I thought we would have hit these numbers by the end of year one.
The question I’ve always asked myself is “what am I willing to struggle for?”
Here’s a video that was posted by Josiah Hultgren on Ideapod. It’s a voice over of Charles Bukowski urging you that if you’re going to try, go all the way.