The Extra Step

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Like almost everyone else, my days are constantly filled with choices about how to use my time.

Should I rest in bed a little longer… or should I get up and get started on my day?

Should I pack a healthy snack in my son’s backpack… or should I stick in his favorite delicious treat?

Should I go to the library and do some research… or should I just look in my “ideas bin” instead of being creative?

Should I put together a delicious but complicated dinner… or should I spend the next hour playing a board game with my son and daughter and make something simple for dinner?

Should I clean the house while Sarah is reading a bedtime story to our daughter… or should I curl up with this book?

Almost every time, there’s an easy choice. I could rest in bed. I could just toss in a delicious treat. I could dig into the old ideas bin. I could play a game. I could read a book.

I could just buy that thing I want. I could just do the minimum I need to do.

It’s the easy way.

At the end of the day, though, I don’t really feel good about my day if I loaded it up with the easy path. If I chose the easy route at every turn, sure, it might make the day flow by faster, but it leaves me feeling as though I didn’t really achieve anything – and rightfully so.

On the other hand, if I push myself to make the harder decision, it will probably make my day more challenging, but at the end of the day I feel as though I accomplished something. I’m also quite a bit more tired if I’ve loaded up the day with stronger choices, so I sleep better, too.

I’ve started to use this phenomenon as a motivational tool. Whenever I’m sitting there trying to talk myself out of what I should be doing, I try to picture myself at the end of the day.

When I look back at my day, which route am I happiest with? The easy route that didn’t really accomplish much? Or the harder route that led to some achievement?

Whenever you’re about to spend money foolishly, think of yourself at the end of the day, looking back.

Whenever you’re about to choose the easy and lazy route, think of yourself at the end of the day, looking back.

Whenever you see yourself not giving a great effort at work, think of yourself at the end of the day, looking back.

At the end of the day, you either used your time productively or you wasted it. You’ll either drift off to sleep, tired but proud of yourself, or you’ll simply try to erase another day that didn’t amount to much.

Which type of day do you want to look back on?

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