Patience, effort and commitment and what it has in common with the setup of Rome’s ancient world empire, that certainly wasn’t built within a day. Nowadays it seems to be trendy to seek for the easiest way to reach aims and solve problems, if possible within the shortest amount of time. Seeking for the path of least resistance is not just a recent trend, but it is a general mindset that we apply to save time. And that’s what it does – it helps us to save a lot of time in the short run, but in the long run we haven’t come closer towards our goal at all and in the worst case we lost a lot of money.
Why do people seek the path of least resistance rather than to be willing to put effort and work into something? The reason for this, among many others, can be found in the advertising and the movie industry. Nowhere else are products more praised as magic pills that allow us to achieve our aims in the easiest possible way, without effort and without having to deal with obstacles and unpleasant problems. These products are often designed to be THE solution to a problem lots of people have to deal with (overweight, poverty, boredom, etc.).
You just need to turn on the television and switch to the right channel to be confronted with commercials that advertise these “magic pills”. The best examples of such products are advertisements for exercising machines that promise true wonders without any efforts at all (and I’m not talking about treadmills, exercise bikes and the like). The products I’m talking about are those that praise you can lose weight and gain muscles by using a belt that stimulates different groups of muscles via electricity or the ones that use vibration for this purpose. The promises that these products make sound tempting as they claim that you can lean back and relax while electric impulses strengthen your muscles. No wonder that so many people fall for this. However, every reliable fitness specialist can confirm that you can only achieve satisfying results by hard work, commitment and willpower combined with a healthy nutrition.
Nothing comes from nothing:
Once you start to bring this fact into focus you will notice that these products are ubiquitous in your everyday life, no matter if you turn on the TV, access the internet, walk through a shopping mall or visit a bookstore. It mustn’t necessarily be a product, but it can also be a problem you are facing that you want to get rid of. I for myself am attracted to many of these “easy solutions” as well as they sound truly promising (maximum profit/reach goals easily without having to invest time/work/etc.), but more often they sound just too good to be true. However, it is a law of nature that you will be rewarded for every effort you put into something, the more effort the higher your reward. Even if you failed you are being rewarded with important knowledge that helps you to succeed the next time you try. The above-named law of nature also implies that if you are not willing to put effort into something you cannot expect to be rewarded for something you just not did.
The simple secret that lies behind this law can be simplified to the simple rule: “invest first, gain profit thereafter”. This means that you need to invest something (effort/time/work/commitment/patience/etc.) before you can achieve what you desire and gain the profit (losing weight/receive money/etc.). Whenever you come across an “easy solution” for one of your problems or a path of the least resistance that claims you can reach your goal easily you could ask yourself: “Do I really have to invest first in order to gain profit thereafter?” Mostly you will notice that if something sounds too good to be true you’ll not have to invest something (except of money for the product, of course) in order to achieve your aim. The attempt to achieve something without investment causes failure, yet we often hope to succeed this way. In fact: we always seek the path of least resistance that allows us to achieve our goals with a minimum of effort; however, it also means that we succeed by far less. Another word for the endeavor to find the easiest way is laziness, and it works like a charm for us: once we face a problem or a difficult task we search for a convenient way to solve the problem or to get the task done, without having to put a lot of effort and time into it. In case we were successful we can be tremendously happy to have gathered some time, but in case we failed (which is more likely) we can persuade ourselves that we did all that we could but it just didn’t work; we do not experience the slightest remorse.
Rome wasn’t built in a day:
Plenty of people choose as a general rule of thumb the easiest solution that involves the least amount of work and still wonder why they do not accomplish their targets. However, if you really want to achieve something big in your life it is a must to put effort, commitment and work into this project. Anything else will either waste your time and discourage you or allow you to only just accomplish your goal after many attempts. Whenever I tend to choose the path of least resistance it is helpful for me to think about successful people that already achieved what I’m targeting at. If I come to the decision that these people accomplished their aim with the least amount of effort I will also choose the easy solution and save time. But, this also implies that whenever I discover that other successful people had to put tremendously high efforts into their attempts to reach what they were aiming at, I will completely ignore the easier solutions and clarify for myself the fact that I can only succeed with similar high efforts.
How to resist the path of least resistance:
#1 There is always a choice!
You can only resist the path of least resistance and avoid the “easy solutions” you are confronted with by understanding that there is always a choice between “easy” and “difficult”, even though you might prefer the former. Manufacturers and advertisers often make use of the laziness of their customers and will preferably present them products that provide the “easy solution” they were seeking for. However, the easiest solution might not be always as effective as those that involve more work and seem more difficult.
#2 Understand your tendencies
It is really astonishing how many people intuitively choose the path of least resistance without even realizing that they make the same mistake again and again, as they are always hoping to get rid of their problems with the new product/method if the last one failed to do so. In order to avoid similar behavior, it is important to understand your personal tendencies and whether you intuitively choose the path of least resistance over hard work. Once you know your tendencies it helps you to realize that you have chosen the path of least resistance in your current situation again, which will allow you to make course corrections, if necessary.
#3 Ask yourself this important question
Another very effective trick is to ask yourself this very important question before you make the decision of taking the path of least resistance (e.g. buying a product):
“Do you know other people that were successful with the decision you are going to make? Did they really succeed the way you are planning to do it?”
These other people should preferably be your friends or at least people you know, rather than a testimonial or an examiner you never met in person. This not only helps you to avoid falling for crappy products but it also will help you to realize what is really necessary to do in order to accomplish what you want to achieve. If you come to the decision that others accomplished their aim with the least amount of effort you should go for the easy solution and save a lot of time. However, it also means that you will have to realize and accept the fact that you might have to put more effort and work into your project than you first thought if you come to the solution that other people did not succeed by taking the path of least resistance. In this scenario, the logical consequence would be to ignore all other alternatives that seem to be easier, no matter how tempting they might be.
Photo by Aigle_dore
Do you sometimes struggle with doing the hard work instead of taking the path of least resistance?