Our society is obsessed with the easy button. Everywhere we turn we are indoctrinated with the idea that there is a shortcut available that will allow us to gain the things we truly desire. Buy this product for instant weight loss. Follow these three steps to overnight success. Wear these shoes or drive this car or drink this bourbon and you’ll be on your way!
It’s in every advertising campaign. It’s all over social media. It’s in the books we read, the magazines we scan at the doctor’s office, and it’s peppered in the conversations we have with our friends, family and coworkers.
But is there really a secret formula we can access to transcend our struggles and gain us wealth, health and success?
What is a life hack anyway?
I’m all for finding little practical things that make life simpler or even just a bit sweeter. Things like packing a scented bar of soap in with your clothes so they smell a little fresher, or putting newspaper at the bottom of your garbage bag to absorb food juices. As a woodworker, I love finding these little anecdotal tidbits that help keep things organized and streamline activity.
But as a woodworker, I also know that taking shortcuts in the shop can lead to disappointing and often dangerous outcomes. And as a seasoned sales professional I know that there are things you don’t learn without putting in the hours of work and study and getting a few bumps and bruises along the way.
We can strive to make our lives simpler, but we should not shy away from the hard work and discipline it takes to achieve a mature level of success.
The culture of instant gratification.
We live in an environment of fast food and instant access to information. Think about the last time you got ticked when the line at Jimmy Johns (or God forbid McDonalds) wasn’t moving quick enough. Or when that YouTube video was taking too long to pull up on your smart phone. I’m old enough to remember a time when you waited hours for your favorite song to come on the radio so you could record it on a cassette. If you wanted to write a friend you did it with paper and a stamp. If you had to do a research paper you pulled out the Encyclopedia Britannica or went to the library, where you had to know the Dewey Decimal System in order navigate through the thousands of books.
An empire has been built on making the quality of our lives simpler, cheaper and more attainable. This isn’t all terrible. Working in the technology industry, I’m constantly amazed at the innovation and output in that space. Our understanding of the world and science has advanced exponentially in just my lifetime, and our way of life has certainly benefited from this.
But we’ve also bought into the idea that we can attain a certain quality of life through instant access of what traditionally has taken generations before us years to master. This is a house of cards that will certainly fall down.
We have begun to lose our appreciation for how things work. There is a rhythm to life that hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. A pattern of struggle and growth, of unknowing and mastering, of discipline and reward. You learn to crawl before you walk. You build muscle through daily routine in the gym. You can’t run a marathon without learning how to run your first mile, and you can’t run your first mile without daily conditioning. In order to get the high paying job, you’ve got to start at the bottom where you learn how to work hard and develop the grit it takes to climb the ladder of success.
The idea of apprenticeship is mostly lost on this generation. The transfer of knowledge from one who has spent years mastering their craft onto a new student. The wise leading the young. And how did the wise become seasoned with knowledge without living, learning, understanding?
There is a rhythm to life.
Yet we still want that pill that will shed fat instantly. We’ll buy it, and when it doesn’t work we’ll find the next one. How many fad diets have come and gone? And yet the idea of eating sensibly and exercising daily are scorned for being old-fashioned.
Kids leave college with the expectation of landing the high paying job they are not qualified (neither intellectually nor emotionally) to take. And when they find a good job they often don’t stick around for any period of time, moving on to the next great opportunity. This is the struggle many employers face today.
On any given day we are inundated by gimmicks, tricks, and PR propaganda that promise success, fame and fortune if we just buy into that book or 10-step program. Prosperity preachers, celebrities and even well-meaning life coaches have contributed to this disease. Claim your blessing, follow your heart and do what feels good have become the mantra of our generation.
Its taking a toll on our health and well-being.
We are obsessed with finding the easy button, and we are manufacturing a culture of depression, anxiety and frustration. This is contributing to a serious problem in our country.
Today, 1 in every 5 Americans suffers from some kind of depression. That’s 18.1% of our population 18 and older. Under the age of 18, our children are suffering anxiety at rates like never before. Everyday there are over 3000 suicide attempts by youth in grades 9-12. That number rises significantly when you add grades 7-8.
We are modeling and selling a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable. We need to return to the basics and stop buying into the lie that we can achieve whatever we want without putting in the time and energy necessary to build success.
There is no trick to success.
The ingredients to success are almost so basic that they often get dismissed as being outdated and unattractive. But remember, there is a rhythm to life. Our grandparents knew that.
There is no trick. There is no life hack. There is no easy button. If you want to succeed in business, in health or in your personal fulfillment, you need to return to the Four Basic Rules of life and forget about following the path of instant gratification.
What are the Four Basic Rules?
- Be passionate about what you are doing – passion breeds discipline
- Have faith – in God and in yourself
- Set attainable goals – what will you do today to get where you want to be tomorrow
- Work hard – no matter where you are in your journey
Whatever it is you want to do with your life, keeping the Four Basic Rules in mind will help build the proper foundation for growth. And remember, success is not guaranteed to any of us. So the next time someone tries to sell you an easy button to success, walk the other way.