Does life ever get easier?

January 21, 2015

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

I posed this question to a number of people my age or older, all of whom are reasonably situated in terms of economics, health, etc. Their answer was similar to what I used to get from my clients in Wyoming when I would ask them how they were. They would respond, "Right side of the earth."

Everybody responded to my question of whether life ever gets easier with a resounding "No." What is that about? One would think that as we get older, we put more and more of our challenges behind us. One would assume that having accomplished much, we would find that our lives get easier; that after so many struggles, life would give you a break and allow you to coast.

The reality is, however, that there is always something new going on. Life never stops moving. There are always more developmental stages that each of us has to face. Each stage has its own unique set of challenges; and since we are wrestling with those challenges for the first time, it is not easy.

The good news is that as difficult situations come up for us to address, we have our respective histories to fall back on. Hopefully, we can apply lessons we've learned to help us overcome new challenges with less effort.

Family businesses are the perfect example of both sides of this equation: The evolution of business challenges; the accompanying challenges of developing individual family members; and the challenges in the family itself can all feel exhausting and underscore the notion that things don't get easier. The consolation, on the other hand, is that once you decide to face the reality with the same resolve that you always have, these challenges and demands keep you involved and can provide both intellectual stimulation and renewed energy.

Also, it does beat the alternative.