Two of my colleagues and I are teaching a “how to be a grown-up” class to seniors during our school’s homeroom-type period. Since our curriculum is a work in progress, we recently had the kids brainstorm all the things that they thought they should know but didn’t yet. Most responses were what we expected –how to file taxes, read a lease, buy insurance, etc. But one question was different.
“Can you teach us some hacks to make college easy?”
No, we could not. We could review study habits and give tips for staying organized, but a make-college-easy “hack” does not exist.
“Work hard. Constantly.” That was our “hack.”
I can’t really blame that student for seeking a hack. Every time you go online these days, you’re bound to see some sort of article/Pinterest post/Facebook clickbait about a “hack” — some way to make your life easier. Admittedly, some of these are pretty genius [like these], and I’m all for making life easier… as long as that easiness doesn’t come through sacrificing life’s quality.
Here’s the thing: Some things in life are hard, but if we don’t work through the hard stuff, our lives will stagnate in mediocrity and we’ll never reach our full potential. We improve in all aspects of our lives only by going through those hard patches. Want to get stronger or run faster? You have to lift heavy weights and push through hard workouts. Want to learn something new? You have to study it, over and over, even — especially– the challenging parts. Want to have a lasting relationship? You have to work through the rough patches… and it’s hard.
If you avoid those hard activities, you’ll avoid the moment’s struggle, but you’ll also miss out on that race PR, the promotion your new knowledge could gain you, or a happy, lifelong relationship or friendship. So sure, use life hacks to clean your house faster or reduce your morning beauty routine, but don’t try to “hack” the things that really matter, because skipping out on challenges means skipping out on greatness.