If you have at all indulged in the wonderful world of self-help here on the internet, you have surely been told that the path of least resistance is the path to avoid. Challenging yourself always pays off and the easiest road often delivers mediocre results.
In many cases, that is true. Challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. It helps develop you into a more well-rounded person and allows you to prove yourself as dedicated and hard-working.
The idea of “hard work” can be misleading, however.
Hard work is often spun as a cure-all to your life’s problems. Simply working hard will help you get in shape, get that job, or get that guy/girl. Putting in effort guarantees a reward.
While hard work is required to achieve our greatest goals in life, it is important to focus on working hard on the right things — not just working hard.
If you are attempting to get in great shape, constructing a well-balanced workout and diet plan will yield the results you desire. If you fail to think through the process of how you’re going to get in great shape, though, you may not reach your desired goals or may even create new problems.
For example, if your workout plan is simply “work out every day,” you may fail. Running three miles a day for a month will surely change your body, but it may negatively impact other areas in your life. You may be tired more often and get sick of the daily grind after that month.
If you worked running into your everyday routine, however, and gave yourself the proper balance, you’d be more likely to stick with it long-term and see the results you desire.
To some people, though, building rest into your workout plan may be seen as taking the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance isn’t always the easiest path; it just may be the one that makes the most sense.
It can be applied to work, too.
Once a college student graduates, they start looking for employment. A college degree can open many pathways — some of which are good and bad. The more qualified to work you are, the more options you receive.
Choice isn’t always a good thing, though, if you don’t have your priorities straight.
A journalism student that is looking to enter the workforce may receive offers from large media outlets like the New York Times or USA Today while also receiving offers from small, local papers.
The tougher pathway would be taking the job at one of the large media outlets. You may get paid more, but you will have to work hard to prove yourself and may be seen as dispensable. You could easily spin it as the better opportunity, however, as it would give you the larger audience.
The path of least resistance would be taking a job at the smaller paper. You could probably get away with more mistakes and have less editorial control over your work.
This work would pay off, however, as you would be allowed to work through your errors and get more opportunities to cover big local stories. At the larger papers, however, you would be handed the scrap stories that the big-name writers wouldn’t want.
Through that experience on “the path of least resistance,” you could prove yourself to those big media outlets that may then look to bring you on for more money covering bigger stories.
Overachieving is Not a Necessity
Success doesn’t have to be defined by the number of things you’ve achieved
Don’t get it twisted: hard work does pay off. But simply looking for the toughest challenge at all times, no matter what the challenge is, will leave you unsure of what the hell you’re actually doing aside from working hard for the sake of working hard.
Seek challenges and discomfort, but make sure those challenges will actually lead down the path you want to go down. If the path of least resistance makes the most sense, take it, and don’t feel ashamed for doing so.