An important step in becoming a better student, a better learner or even a better person is coming face-to-face with the tasks in our lives we find hard. In this post, I would like to explore the feelings and attitudes we have towards those tasks through the lens of a student faced with another assignment. Do not get me wrong, there are still plenty of tasks that I do not want to do, either because they are hard or I am just lazy but sometimes it is important to take a step back and understand why it is we feel this way about things like assignments.
This is going to be hard
Whenever we receive an assignment, we see the expectation of the finished product. Thousands of words, posters, videos or presentations; they are all very daunting from the start. Worst of all, sometimes when we receive a task that we have never attempted before. And what do we think? This is going to be hard. This assignment is going to take up so much time! But I have never even edited a video before! Do I even know 2 000 words? I have to present in front of the whole class? All of these thoughts come racing to mind immediately, and just like the assignment, we have no interest in addressing them.
As a result, over time we have developed a natural disdain for things that appear hard. This is not limited to assignments. Exercising: hard. Public speaking: hard. Learning a new skill: hard. Unlike when we were children, when we were not afraid of challenges or failure, we are immediately put off by the even just the thought of these examples.
What is important to realise is hard does not mean impossible. It means it is perfectly doable. But it will take a fair amount of effort. Take these posts as an example. I sit down knowing that the thousand or so words I will write are not going to come easily. I may sit here and stew while I carefully pick my words; even open up a thesaurus to find the right ones. I will write, backspace it all and rewrite it again. But just like our assignments, knowing that it will be hard will seldom change the fact that it will be done, one way or another. Just like some of these posts, we will take that assignment notification begrudgingly and put in the six hours prior to the deadline. And after a rollercoaster of emotions from stress to self-loathing to regret and finally to relief, we will hand in something vaguely resembling what the task required.
What was hard?
Whenever we do this though, we should reflect; what did we find hard about that? The inevitability of that last minute scramble to get something in on time? The long hours of work it took? The pressure of research or learning a new skill? If we think back properly, maybe it did not take as long as we thought. Maybe it was not as hard as we originally thought. Maybe it would have been more enjoyable if it were not for the stress of a deadline.
The prospect of a hard task does not create those difficult situations that we dislike about them. We inflict them upon ourselves due to the simple thought that started this cascade: this is going to be hard. But as we said before, hard is doable. And it will be done, one way or another!
So next time you are confronted with something that you immediately think is hard, ask yourself why you think it is, and in doing so, you will find all the right questions which will make for an easier task.