Don’t you hate it when it’s easy?

I find it SO annoying when stuff that I’ve been strenuously avoiding, struggling against, and forcefully resisting turns out to be really easy to do once I finally face it.

Exercise that feels good after, housecleaning projects that take half as long as I expect– All that flailing and complaining for nothing. I spend so much energy putting them off, that I almost want it to fail to justify my resistance. Or else I want extra points for level of difficulty.

I tend to avoid effort wherever possible. I’m skilled at it. I probably have my full 10,000 hours for avoidance expert status. It’s not entirely laziness or procrastination. As I’ve mentioned before, I can lose entire weekends setting up new applications to help me save time.

I do like things to be easy.

I used to have a sign on my wall that said, “If it’s not easy, it’s impossible.” The image that brings to mind for me is of a surfer riding the top of a breaking curl. If you’re doing it right then all of the power of the ocean is moving you forward. If not you’ll wipe out. To me that means you can tell how close you are to being on path by how “easy” your life is. By that I mean how energized, or interested, or sustainable you feel. If your activities make you feel miserable and exhausted no amount of sheer perseverance without course correction is going to bring you success.

I’ve learned that my preconception often determines the result. If I expect something to be easy it generally is. If I expect it to be hard I mostly likely don’t even bother.

When I was about 20 I made my first spinach soufflé. It turned out great. Then I learned that most people find it difficult to make soufflés. I never made another one.

When I catch myself thinking, “Oh this is going to be a slog. Do I have to? How can I get out of this?” It sometimes helps to consider, “what if this were easier than I expect, maybe even surprisingly easy?” This attitude shift helps to at least remove the added burden of my bad attitude and could even shift my perspective to one of curiosity and exploration.

If I find myself surprised (and perturbed) because something I was sure would be time-consuming and effortful turns out to be no big deal I sigh and laugh at myself (at least that is my intention).

So to recap:

  1. Check your expectation. Maybe the task won’t be as hard as you think.
  2. If an action feels really difficult ask yourself, “what if this were surprisingly easy?”
  3. Notice if you’re feeling annoyed that a task was easier than you anticipated and laugh at yourself (or at least roll your eyes and sigh).