The Truth About Path of Least Resistance

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein

In response to my recent article, Are Poor People Lazy?, where I concluded that laziness doesn’t always equate to poverty and vice versa, Pamela left this comment:

There are many factors that lead a person to the life they are living. I am quite shy. No matter how much I socialize no matter how many times I try to assert myself I remain shy. Because of this I do not take classes or do many of the things suggested for me to do to get ahead in life. So according to you I am lazy. NOT SO. If allowed I would work 12 hour days at my job.
I also agree with many of the comments that being in the right place at the right time can have a more positive outcome on you life than anything.

For most of my life, I’ve been very shy. Sometimes, I’ve been able to cover it up by essentially adopting another persona – simply pretending to be someone else who was outgoing – but that would only work for short stretches. Usually, I would just maintain that level of false outgoingness until I could get out of the situation.

I told myself that it was impossible to be any different than that. It was a convenient excuse, as are all excuses that take us away from great opportunities in life.

In truth, adopting that “outgoing” persona, escaping social situations, and believing I was just shy and nothing could be done about it was merely taking the path of least resistance in life. In other words, it was the easiest path available to me. Being more social and extroverted was far outside my comfort zone – it was a lot easier to just put on a mask, get through the situation, and remain introverted.

It has taken me a very long time to grow beyond that level of introversion and shyness. I’ve had a lot of painful social interactions along the way, and I’ve practiced in ways that would have seemed ludicrous to me years ago.

Now, though, I feel completely fine starting up conversations with people I’ve just met. I can lead conversations with others, as well as follow their lead, and I actually enjoy it because of the human interaction as well as learning a lot of things along the way.

Being more social has opened up a lot of avenues for me. I’ve met interesting people, gained some public speaking opportunities, and built a lot of friendships in the community.

If I had just continued to follow the path of least resistance, I would have never had these opportunities.

Is the path of least resistance laziness? Some might argue that it is – I don’t. People can work quite hard on the tasks that they’re most comfortable with.

However, opportunity rewards people who step outside their comfort zone. The Einstein quote that starts this article really sums it up: if you just keep doing things the same way over and over again, you’ll keep getting the same results. If you don’t like the results you’re getting in some aspect of your life – your economic situation, your personal situation, your health, and so on – it’s time to take a new path, one that’s not easy.

Find it hard to be social? Read Never Eat Alone and How to Win Friends and Influence People and start acting on what you read.

Find it hard to lose weight? Start exercising every day, even if it’s hard, and throw out most of the junk food. Try drinking water instead of soda – it’ll be hard at first, but fighting through that resistance is what will make change happen.

Find it hard to learn and grow your knowledge? Turn off the television and read books on subjects that you don’t know much about. If they’re over your head, back off and read simpler ones first.

Find it hard to execute some particular skill? Use your spare time and practice it, even if practice seems difficult and you’d rather be doing something else. Play the guitar until your fingers hurt. Cook every meal for a month from scratch.

Find it hard to get out of debt? Cut up all of your credit cards and erase those numbers from all of your online accounts and learn how to live on what you have.

Once you’ve broken through some personal barriers, you’ll find that opportunity knocks more often than before. You’ll understand the world around you better – and people will interact with you in a more positive fashion.

It’s hard to change course, but if you keep doing what you’re doing now, you’re going to keep getting the same results. Now’s the time to get off that path of least resistance and try the hard way.

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