Tempted to give up or settle? Think your efforts might be wasted? I had a little experience recently that reminded me of the reward of work, sacrifice, and perseverance.
Recently, a few of my children and my husband and I went up to the canyon to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful fall leaves that had changed color. One of my daughters said she had found a beautiful spot up the canyon the week before when she was mountain biking with friends.
We got dressed up, I got my gear together (bringing my fully stocked—and heavy—camera bag, tripod, the whole deal). We drove to the canyon, parked our car and began to hike up a little dirt trail.
“It’s not far,” my daughter assured us as she began to lead us up the trail.
And continued to hike. . .
After hiking far beyond what felt like “not far,” we were still hiking.
We were getting winded. . .
“How far is this?” I asked.
“Not much farther,” she said.
We continued to hike.
In my head I was thinking Yeah, on a mountain bike it wasn’t far!
We hiked. . .
And hiked. . .
“Not much farther,” she promised again.
Still we hiked.
It was getting late.
It was getting cold.
Nobody had brought a coat or jacket because we weren’t going to be going very far from the car. . . or so we thought.
We continued to hike.
We were losing light.
I started scouting out places along the path for potential picture spots. I was very tempted to stop everybody, settle for the background at hand, and take pictures right where we were. It would have been a waste to come all the way up here and not get any pictures at all!
But I didn’t stop us.
Instead I thought about my options. I considered how, if we stopped, we would miss the beautiful scene my daughter had shown us on her phone just days before. I had to decide if I was willing to sacrifice and do the hard work of hiking in the cold with no coat. And if I was willing to continue burdening my husband as he selflessly lugged my heavy gear up the mountainside. And if I was willing to continue worrying about the fading light. I also had to consider the possibility that we also might miss our opportunity for pictures entirely if the hike took too long. Was the spot really worth the effort?
I reminded myself that most worthwhile things take effort and sacrifice. So, I made my decision.
We continued to hike.
Every time I was tempted to stop and settle, I reminded myself that the best was yet to come—if I could just endure the discomfort a little longer, it would be worth it. I told myself to stop worrying and kept hiking.
Finally, when everybody was tired of hearing “Not much farther,” and we really were about to give up, the dirt trail opened up into a gorgeous clearing of tall, yellow grass, lush, multi-colored fall foliage and gorgeous mountains.
It was breathtaking.
Although we had prepared for a two to five-minute hike, we ended up hiking for a good 20 minutes. But it was indeed worth it. We were able to take pictures and enjoy the scenery (even though some of us were freezing the whole time), but the reward outweighed the sacrifice. We loved the location so much that we decided we would return again in the spring or summer (better prepared) with a picnic, a lighter load, and with the intent to enjoy an afternoon together in nature.
The Truth About Life
Sometimes we can see the outcome we’re working toward clearly, like my daughter who knew the path and the reward from previous experience (but didn’t quite know how long it would take walking!). Other times, we don’t know if the work and journey will be worth it, and we feel like giving up. And many times, we do. . . right before the clearing and the beauty opens up to us.
It’s important to remember that worthwhile things require work. True change requires effort. Goals and dreams aren’t always clearly seen in detail. But we move forward with faith anyway, believing we can reach our destination. The harder the path, the more growth is possible—if we allow the pain and the struggle to teach us instead of making us bitter, impatient and hopeless.
Mindset is Everything
If I had just given in to how I felt in the moment (cold, tired, worried) I wouldn’t have experienced the beauty of the destination. One way to rise above momentary feelings is to ask questions—to have a mindset of self-reflection.
- What do I really want?
- Are my current feelings supportive of my ultimate desire?
- What are my choices in the situation?
- What is the cost?
- What if things don’t work out? What will I lose? How much weight would that loss bring? Is it worth the sacrifice?
- Is this something I can attempt again in the future? How much really rides on my success in this moment?
- Am I considering giving up because it’s hard? Or because I’ve weighed the cost and found the price to be too high?
- What are the real consequences if this doesn’t work out? Have I made them bigger in my head than they actually are?
This Week’s Challenge
Sometimes it’s tough to decide when to move forward and when to give up.
Consider a goal you are working toward, or an experience you recently had where you thought about giving up. What are your reasons? Are they purely based on feelings? Or are there more weighty considerations involved? Is it a true desire? Are you just feeling discouraged? Can you clearly see what you’re trying to achieve? If not, is there a way you could get clear?
Write your thoughts in your journal so you can see your own reasoning in writing.