Most humans have this built in tendency to focus on the easy things in life. There's a small dopamine reward given for each tiny win. So they continue to keep it up as long as they possibly can and for the most part it's enough to function and maintain a relatively normal societal lifestyle. A paycheck for example, will give you that "feel good" feeling momentarily, until you spend it all and crave that next one. Paychecks are pretty easy. You already have the job and all you have to do is show up and do the same thing you did the day before. Easy as in predictable, not as in simple. You might manage a team of 12 and work 18 hours per day. Not a simple job, but the work process is relatively easy.
Then there's a select few who no longer get that fix from doing small things. We see these people as skydivers, surfers, race car drivers etc. That one person that had enough and decided to hitchhike across the country. The paycheck just did nothing for them. But we also see them more commonly now in the tech world as tech entrepreneurs who break the boundaries of what it means to create and expand in their fields. If you look at most of the current tech gurus, you'll find a similar pattern. Many of them had very humble beginnings, or risked it all for what they believed in. Elon Musk has talked in the past about living in an office with his brother while eating Jack in the Box and sharing a laptop.
Steve Jobs spoke in an interview about selling his VW van in order to finance his next venture. And the rest as we now know is history for Apple. Many people build up a safe and simple life, and at some point come to the realization that they dug themselves into a corner of boredom and security. And that's a huge part of doing the easy things too, the more you do them, the harder it will be to do the hard things.
Very few people would willingly choose to go in to the auto manufacturing industry in this day and age. It's risky. The laws aren't on your side, and you have a very long way to go if you want to catch up to even the newest car companies. But there was a guy out there willing to try it regardless of how much fortune there was to lose. Every massive tech company out there today, started with 0 dollars and less than 5 people. We see the results and think its unlikely anyone else can get there. But that mentality is what keeps us from ever getting there.
The same can be said for anyone working with a startup. Startups aren't easy, and you'd be a fool to quit your job to pursue that full time. But there still a few fools left in this world, and that's a good thing. The easy route is predictable for the most part. And we aren't here to live a life that's already been written. We're here to create, help, laugh and enjoy our days in any way that we wish to enjoy them and not in a streamlined 9-5 system.
So do the hard things. Take the long routes. Take cold showers. Give up your social media for 1 day. Unfortunately, that is what passes for the hard things in this day and age, but just try it. Think of it as a stepping stone towards other challenges in life that you have been avoiding or that you subconsciously block out. But they are there.
We make choices each and every day. Even a mile difference will dictate where and what we eat and who we meet. The easier route will yield a faster reward, be it short-lived. But the longer route will yield a brand new experience that can change your life in unexpected ways. That new coffee shop that's a town over but that has that amazing open-mic night and that fantastic organic scone that almost feel like a vitamin. That's in the picture, you just have to go find it.
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Walter G. is a software engineer, startup co-founder, former CTO of several tech companies and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He has been blogging for the past 5 years and is an avid BMX rider, bio-hacker
and performance enthusiast.