When you’re at the bottom of the hill, deep in the valley with lots of work ahead of you, you question. You challenge. Mostly you want the obvious to not be true – you don’t want to be at the bottom. You want to be mistaken somehow – to somehow have your present circumstances be better than they in fact are.
Despite your desire to strategize, you have no advantages and very little information. You can’t see very far from the valley – barely to the next peak. So if you want to get anywhere at all, you just have to work and work and climb and climb until you reach the summit.
Now you’re finally there! You have vision for miles and an advantageous position. Do you take advantage of this new set of circumstances to do all the things you wished you could do from the bottom?
No way. You hop on that sled as fast as can be and race back to the bottom.
That’s not just sledding. It’s life for many people. When times are hard and we don’t have the juice to plan well, we wish we did and we climb and struggle. Then we find ourselves through some combination of effort and luck on top of the mountain, but we don’t pause and linger. We just relish the fact that things got a little easier and we ride it out… until we’re at the bottom again.
There’s a saying I’ve heard once or twice, and maybe you have as well: “Tough times create strong people. Strong people create good times. Good times create weak people. Weak people create tough times.” It’s an interesting thought on the cyclical nature of macro-level events, but I think on a micro level it just applies to most individuals. Tough times make you work your butt off, but working your butt off makes you prosper, but prosperity makes you slack, and slacking gives you tough times.
Maintaining consistency of effort as the world around you and your individual circumstances change is very difficult. But the more you commit to it, the less those circumstances will change. The next time you’re at the top of the hill, linger. Scan the terrain, plan your route instead of just charging downhill. Heck, maybe don’t charge downhill at all – the top of the mountain is a great place to build a cabin. Enjoy the good times, for sure – but don’t squander them.