At some point when I was in college, I came up with the mantra, “Do the hard thing FIRST!” I put it up on signs, which solicited many giggles – we were all frisky teenagers, after all.
For me it was never about tackling the hardest project first. Rather, it was about making the phone call that I was scared of; it was about saying no when I was afraid to; it was about laying things to rest so I wouldn’t have to think about them anymore.
Back then I realized that I’d cause myself a lot less stress by facing my fears up front, rather than sitting around and worrying about them without doing anything.
It’s a lesson that I forget and remember periodically. Apparently this week I needed reminding.
The other day, my car was parked next to my mom’s. I was struggling to get a large package into the back seat of my car and the door swung open further than I thought it would. The two cars were the perfect distance from each other so that my door just scraped against hers. It didn’t leave a dent or scratch the paint, but there’s a smudge mark.
I started rubbing the smudge mark furiously, hoping that it would buff out with my finger, but no such luck.
As I walked back into the apartment, I debated what to do – I could tell her up front or I could keep it to myself and hope that she didn’t notice.
Thankfully, the mantra popped into my head: “Do the hard thing FIRST.”
I knew that if I didn’t tell her, I’d be terrified every time I talked to her. I’d be waiting for her to tell me that she’d found a mark on her car. And if she did say it, I’d be faced with two equally bad options – not saying anything and pretending I knew nothing, or saying, “Oh, I forgot to tell you…”, which would be a lie.
I walked in the room and immediately told her what had happened. I was nervous about her reaction, but I was far MORE nervous about my own state of mind if I didn’t say anything.
Mom’s reaction surprised me. She wasn’t upset at all! In fact, she even laughed and said, “If anyone is going to make a mark on my car, I’m glad it was you and not me!”
What a relief!!!!! I had four minutes of stress rather than four weeks or four months – and all because the voice of my college-self piped up to say, “Do the hard thing FIRST!”
And in the end it’s all okay, because the smudge came right out when the proper cloth was applied.
Image found here.