Today I’d like to talk about the difficulty curve. Everyone says that things get easier. That’s a nice idea but it’s not entirely true. As a miserable bastard you should know that “Everyone” should be put in the same basket of common wisdom of “They say”.
Here’s a video game analogy. In the first levels of a video game, every thing is sunny, the monsters are easy to deal with and you’re gently introduced to the way that particular video game works. You’re having fun, and before you know it, you’ve found yourself at the top of the game, knowing intuitively how things work and you’re dealing death and stomping those monsters like nobodies business. You’re awesome at it, and it feels pretty great. You’re the best plumber in the kingdom and you’ve found the princess.
That’s what a functioning difficulty curve looks like. A broken game however, will ramp up that difficulty too quickly and you’ll end up getting frustrated and beaten by the game’s systems. It’s not fair and you don’t want to play. So you don’t.
Each day things get more complicated, we willingly take on more distractions and aspects to our lives. These hobbies, relationships and activities all add meaning to our lives. But with those extra things we also add in all this mental clutter. It makes it hard to make decisions and see our way through when the going gets tough.
Your work will only ever get harder usually. You take on extra responsibility, your workplace expects more out of you and you mostly deliver.
Quite a few times over the last few years I’ve asked myself “shit is this ever going to get any easier?” and it occurred to me that, nope, it’s always hard growing and that’s why things are so damn tough.
So - here’s the point. Things only ever get harder, but you’re getting better and better at dealing with stuff, and if you’re not, you either need to learn how to, or ask for help so you can.
Now you could be forgiven for thinking, “welp, that’s a bit shit and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and I might as well pack it in”. You’d be an idiot. The truth is the stuff that stresses us out is often in our control, but we often put in a huge pile of stuff to deal with later. Sometimes stuff is out of our control, but there’s a surprising amount of stuff you can deal with if you roll up your sleeves and get on with it.
There’s nothing wrong with being stressed, and feeling like everything is on top of you. That’s pretty common, but it’s how you deal with it
that is the key to being happy and healthy.
So how do you actually deal with it when it’s all too much then? You need to recognise that this is just another step along the road and you’ll probably be nostalgic for this time in a few years time when your life has moved on. We mostly remember the good stuff and not the bad (unless the bad is really bad).
So the best way to deal with this is to remember and understand how you found yourself in the position you’re in now - actually think about your decisions for example:
I work for myself. I have a really stressful, full on life as I have to deal with my suppliers, my bookwork, my clients and my workload and that’s when everything is going right. When the shit hits the fan, it’s easy for me to wish I had somebody to sort it all out for me, or perhaps to daydream about when I used to work in a music store.
So if you’re asking me to define happy how about this: “I ended up here because I made a bunch of decisions and I’d still make the same decisions today”.
I accept that my life is stressful and busy, but as a result of being a bit zen about the clutter and nonsense of bad clients, bad suppliers and things out of my control, my life is less stressful because I’m not worried about it, I’m just dealing with what I can actually sort out.
Dealing with stuff small chunks is a simple way to stop the bullshit and the stress. You can only control what’s in your hands. Stefan Sagmiester said it best when he said, "Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
And the next step is simple. Plan. Plan like an aboslute motherf*$ker. If you don’t have a plan, you don’t have a way forward. If you are miserable then you need to work out a way forward. A way forward doesn’t have to be anything dramatic. Taking 30 minutes a day to exercise will change your life - not today, and not tomorrow but it will.
You can make crazy dramatic steps, or little incremental ones, but the important thing is look at your life, identify the bullshit and the stress and either act or forget.
Stuff doesn’t get easier, you just get better at dealing with it.
If you’re at breaking point and struggling with stress, bullying, personal issues this message is especially for you: Don’t give up. Stuff doesn’t get easier, but it will
get better. Hang in there and push on, you’ll get there. Don’t ever let stop fighting for your life. Don’t let the bastards get you down. You will get there.