Your Next Hard Thing

You have never received a winner’s trophy before playing in the championship game. You have never been offered a promotion before you excelled in your job. Your parents never instructed you to make sure you ate your dessert first and not worry about the vegetables, since they would take care of themselves.

Why did none of these things happen? Because that’s not how successful lives work. It makes no sense to earn trophies before you win games, get a promotion before you perform well, or eat sweets before you consume your dinner. An attitude of entitlement, though, tells us that it can and should be this way: “You can have it all. Do what is easy and comfortable first, and you’ll be rewarded with a lot of amazing things.”

It’s a lie.

The entitlement disease’s insistence that you leave the hard stuff till later (or never) results in disaster. Let’s find out why.

Let’s say you asked me to coach you in how to find your dream career. You are forty-two years old and a pleasant person, and while your current position has paid the bills, it’s not exciting, it is not you, you have no passion for it. You want something that engages your strengths and skills, means something to you, and still provides for you and your family. This is a common scenario and an important one.

We’ll begin our search for this new career track through a process of discovering your strengths, looking at the opportunities out there, and evaluating what has worked for you and what has not. With every single client I coach through this lengthy and challenging process, we will get to one particular place. That place might be that your time is taken up with work or family issues. Or that you aren’t as passionate about this career-search process as when you started — the honeymoon is over. Or that you have other responsibilities — such as a friend who needs a lot of your time to help him through a divorce — that are taking your energy. That place is an important stage in your growth process. It can stall you, divert you, or derail you.

When we come to that place, I know that you’re about to find what I call your Next Hard Thing (NHT). Your NHT is the choice you need to make that will get you past the difficulty. I call it hard because it almost always is. It might be simple, it might be clear, but it won’t be easy. Most of the time, you’ll say, “I’ve been here before.” And yes, you have. But this time you need to do something about it — something challenging that will help you finally resolve it.

Identifying your NHT is a large part of the win. Once you know you need to say no to someone, or eliminate something good to make room for something great, or confront another person, you’re almost there. But to move beyond that, there are attitudes that you must deal with to keep you moving. The entitlement mantra concerning your NHT says: The next hard thing is too difficult, so I’ll just do something else now.

Most people succeed not by waiting, but by making a difficult choice. The better path is the Hard Way mantra, which says: Today I will choose to do something that helps resolve my obstacle, and I’ll feel better.

The NHT can take many different forms. Your NHT is about some specific behavior, and it may be behavior you have been avoiding: a phone call, setting a boundary with a friend, a conversation, canceling a subscription to a magazine you don’t need, turning off Facebook after thirty minutes. Behavior is measurable. It is not fuzzy. It is just behavior.

And behavior always begins with a step. Even a little step. It might be something that takes you just ten minutes today. That’s okay. A step begins the process and puts you in a better place.

Just plunge in.


Taken from The Entitlement Cure by Dr. John Townsend. Makes a great graduation gift!

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Watch as Dr. John Townsend talks about the importance of preparing for the future.


  1. Linda says

    That’s good stuff. I particularly like “eliminate something good to make room for something great.” That’s very thought-provoking. I’m going to have to spend some time with that.

  2. Liz says

    I like how this takes me directly to the hard place to confront what I’ve been avoiding which is causing me trouble. Talk about open a can of worms! I think I need someone to talk to to help me through this. It can be too overwhelming to tackle by myself. Plus, I, on my own, will circumvent the process and end up back at square one.

    • Lisa says

      Get the book! I can’t wait to read it, perfect timing for the journey I am on. So many great books, so little time!

  3. Peter Kanyoro says

    Wow! Just got it on time. Almost derailed, I need to make choice that will get me past the difficulty!! Great stuff.

  4. Jo Stone says

    too bad I just got this. I spent well over 2 hours on Facebook. some of it was good, a few things were great, like the lovely picture of our youngest grand daughter at 5 months. most of it was a sincere waste of time.

    i’ll have to print this so I can read it often! thanks!

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