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Such is life

Being who we are today, it may be difficult to believe anything good can come out of anything we do. This is one of our…

Being who we are today, it may be difficult to believe anything good can come out of anything we do. This is one of our biggest struggles today. If you have ever struggled to be consistent with something you care about, the struggle I talk about will resonate with you too.

The donkey days are here to stay – it looks like. Maybe that is all there will be. 

But don’t worry too much if today you feel like giving up. I feel like giving up too. What matters is what you do next, whether you lay down to die.  But today? Well, today I am struggling. Today, I don’t feel like moving, or going anywhere. Today, I don’t feel like sticking to the routine. Today, I don’t feel like I have any great ideas and I don’t feel like I have enough time to make the good ideas great. Today, I feel like giving up.

“Despair,” Ngugi wa Thiong’o said, “is the one sin that cannot be forgiven”. And how does this make me feel?

Experience has shown that acquiescent grit is the characteristic linked most closely to success. I could use some grit today. Beyond the flagellation, this is what I try to remind myself of when I feel like giving up.

That the mind is made up of suggestions.  This makes you a suggestion engine yourself. If you consider every thought you have as a suggestion, not an order, you will have an easy ride going with it. Right now, my mind is suggesting that I am too tired, that it is hopeless. It is suggesting that I give up. It is suggesting that I take the easy way out.

If I pause for a moment, however, I can discover new suggestions. My mind is also suggesting that I will feel very good about accomplishing the tasks before me once it’s all over. It is suggesting that I will respect the identity I am building when I stick to the schedule. It is suggesting that I have the ability to finish this one task, then the next, even when I don’t feel like it.

I make it a point to make it a point that these suggestions are not orders. They are merely options. I have the power to choose which option I follow, without being condemned to perdition for all eternity.

That the discomfort is temporary. Relative to the time in your normal day or week, nearly any habit you perform is over quickly. The tedious weekly status update meeting held every Wednesday will be finished in an hour or two. Even if you still don’t have your report and presentation slides ready by 4am on Wednesday morning, they will be typed to completion before 10am, and the day will itself be over by 3pm. This article too, will be finished in just a moment.

Think about it – life is easier now than it has ever been. If you lived in Abuja just 100 years ago and didn’t kill (or grow) your own food and build your own house, you would die. Today, we whine about Glo flooding our smartphones with unsolicited, bitterly resented junk texts, while refusing to do anything about the absolutely terrible data network. Or is it the NCC?

It is extremely easier said than done, but you must maintain perspective. Your life is good and your discomfort is temporary. Step into this moment of discomfort and let it strengthen you. Yes, I can hear just how provocative all this sounds. But – just do it!

That you will never regret hard work once it is done. By far, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at something worth doing. That is where we are, folks. Left to us, we would rather work leisurely at things we must do. We want our output to be helpful and respected, but we do not want to have to struggle to get it all done. We do not want the dire punishment of having to drive through Titin Karkasara going to work, or Gadar Lado at rush hour coming back home – but you have to get to Zoo Road for the paycheck. We want the final result, but not the failed attempts that precede it. We want the gold, but not the grind.

That everyone wants to be a champion. Few people want to train like Anthony Joshua. And yet, despite our resistance to it, I have never found myself feeling worse after the hard work was done. There had been days when it was damn hard to start, but it was always worth finishing. Sometimes, the simple act of showing up and having the grit to just do it, even in an average manner, is a victory worth celebrating.

So this is life; it is a constant balance between giving into the ease of distraction and overcoming the pain of discipline. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives and our identities are defined in this delicate balance. What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up?

This moment when you don’t feel like doing what has to be done? This is not a moment to be thrown away. This is not a dress rehearsal. This moment is your life as much as any other moment. Spend it in a way that will make you proud.

Often, I let nature decide. And what do I do when I feel like giving up? I show up. Do I show up at my best? I doubt it. But my job isn’t to judge how good or how bad I am.

My job is to do the work and let the world decide. C’est la vie.

By Huzaifa jega