Let me tell you, friends, I love a good life hack.
I mean, we’re all looking for the easiest, fastest, and the most effective way to approach our tasks and our responsibilities, right? We’re all doing our best to simplify our lives and focus on what really matters.
Well, I’ve got a life hack that will instantly make every single aspect of your life better. You ready for it?
Learn how to handle hard, because if you always expect easy, life will always be hard.
I’m just gonna give you a minute to sit with that, friend.
Okay, you back with me? I know that was a serious truth bomb to drop on you.
But seriously, my biggest life hack is investing your energy in learning how to handle hard things. Because when we are prepared for challenges, navigating them becomes so much easier.
I’m not being cynical here. I’m encouraging you to be prepared.
I don’t want you to read this rule and think this means that you should always expect the worst or that you need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
In fact, this is just the opposite of that kind of catastrophizing.
See, when you’re preparing for the worst-case scenario, you’ve got your energy focused on one possible set of negative outcomes. You’re focused on trying to prevent those imaginary scenarios from becoming reality.
That’s wasted energy, friend. Because when that one worst-case doesn’t become reality (and let’s face it, they usually don’t), then all of your planning was wasted.
I don’t want you to waste your energy.
I want you to make a solid investment in honing your skills. Learn how to navigate the hard times so that when they surprise you (and let’s face it, they usually do), you’ll be able to respond effectively to the reality of the situation.
Here’s one way to think about it…
Imagine you’ve got a goal of running a marathon sometime next year. You haven’t made any concrete plans yet, but it’s something that’s on the horizon, and you want to start preparing.
Would you look up every marathon route in your state, then visit each one to check out the finish line so that you can avoid any mistakes in your final sprint?
Would you start tracking the weather for the next 12 months to see whether or not you should train in extreme conditions?
Would you start stocking up on mole skin in case you get a blister the day of the race?
No way, right?
None of that would actually help you prepare for the huge challenge of running 26.1 miles.
In fact, it would distract you from the kind of preparation you really need to do.
Your energy would be much better spent if you used it to work out a training plan or make healthy changes to your diet to support your goals or set up regular massages to help your muscles recover as you ramp up your workouts.
That’s the kind of prep work that will really help you get ready for the challenges you might face on race day, right?
And even if you end up changing your mind about doing a marathon, none of that prep work would really have been wasted. You’ll still have taken steps that would improve your physical and mental health.
So when I say that the best way to make your life easier is to prepare for hard times, I mean start working on the big-picture skills that will help you navigate them, so that no matter what life throws your way, you’ll know that you’re prepared ride that wave.
You know I’m here for productive, positive actions, so here are three strategies to help you build the skills to handle hard (and resources to help get you started with your practice):
Proactively cultivate inner peace.
When hard times hit, it’s easy to get caught up in the external turmoil. Knowing how to make inner calm and equanimity your default setting is how you create space from that turmoil and step into a clear mindset before acting.
That may sound like total woo. I mean, who defaults to calm when they’re confronted with overwhelming, frustrating, earth-shattering news? The answer is “the people who practice.”
When life gets hard, I want you to be able to immediately touch base with the peace that resides within you. Because that’s how you respond to hard things most effectively.
Sure, anger, worry, or overwhelm might feel like it’s the natural response to stress. But when things get hard, we need to be able to make our best decisions, and we can do that most effectively when we’re clear-headed.
One great way to cultivate and build that internal calm is meditation. Meditation helps you learn how to shift into that mindset. Practicing regularly at times when you’re not feeling stressed allows you to build the muscle memory you need to do it when life gets hard.
RESOURCE | Jeff Warren’s “How to Meditate” course on Calm. I highly recommend this 30-day course. If you’ve never tried meditation before (or have tried and think it’s just not for you!), I think it’s a great place to start, and if you’ve been building your meditation practice for a while, I think it’s a great resource for helping you develop some new skills.
Build recovery into your schedule.
I know that most of the people in this beautiful community are high-achievers. We like to do good things well; it’s our default state.
But if we want to bring our best to those meaningful moments—whether that’s a fun project or a world-changing work project—we need to honor what science tells us about how we’re wired.
And the research is very clear—we can’t keep going, going, going indefinitely. Our minds and our bodies will burn out, and that’s never conducive to handling hardship.
We don’t want to face tough times when we’re running on fumes.
We can never know what’s ahead; we don’t have a crystal ball that will tell us what’s on the horizon whether we’re facing a tough day, a tough chapter, or a tough season.
So the best thing we can do is to make sure that we’re getting proactively giving ourselves time to rest so that we’re prepared for those unexpected challenges.
Build rest and recovery into the rhythm of your life so that when that when hard happens, we will have the energy that we need to really face it.
And not only that, learning how to rest will teach us tools that will help us navigate those tough times so that we know when we need to press and when we need to pause.
RESOURCE | I love this article from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith where she lays out seven different types of rest and how we can make sure that we’re clear on the kind of rest we really need and why we can still feel exhausted, even if we’re getting plenty of sleep. (BTW, I also highly recommend her TEDx Talk on this subject!)
Know when to phone a friend.
If anyone struggles with asking for help, it’s your girl right here. Yeap, this girl, the one who is about to tell you how important it is to reach out to your community of support when you need them.
I’m telling you this because I know what a game-changer it is.
Calling in your support network isn’t about dumping your hard stuff on other people. It’s leaning into those who love you.
Because when we feel supported, and when we feel loved, it helps us to stay connected to the good.
The people we love don’t need to carry our burdens for us, and they don’t need to solve our problems. But trusting them to give you the warmth, care, and compassion you need reminds you of the things that are good in your world.
No matter what chaos or pain we’re experiencing, when we reach out to those we love, we remember that there are pockets of love all around us. We get a reminder that the entire world isn’t chaos and pain.
When we practice reaching out to others during the easy times, those connections become a lifeline for us during the hard times.
RESOURCE | This article gives a step-by-step guide for learning the art of asking for help, which is especially helpful for those of us who’ve internalized that we need to be able to do it all on our own. awesome strategies for learning how to ask for help.
We can’t control what life will send our way, friends. And that can feel like a scary thing to accept. It can make us feel powerless.
But once you do, you’ll be able to step into your real power. You may not be able to control the world around you, but you have everything you need within you to weather any storm and to rise above.