119: What If It Were Easy?
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What If It Were Easy?
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It’s going to be a shorter solo episode. We do interviews where they’re long-form deep dives into guests and their stories. We do fellowship episodes, which are peer-to-peer conversations a little bit shorter where me and a friend or someone that I’m acquaintance with talk about a handful of topics, themes or ideas that we are facing and that can be helpful to you. I do shorter solo episodes where I talk about an idea that I’ve been musing and pondering on. This episode is an idea that is based on a question. The question is, “What if it were easy?”Chunking a larger vision and goal into small, practical, manageable steps is an important part of any change we make in our lives. Click To Tweet
At first blush, this question seems overly optimistic and almost like a fantasy, and in one sense it is, yet this question has been powerful in my own life and thoughts. I hope that it can be that for you as well. To share a bit about my personal experience with this question, I’ve been at a place in life where I find myself pushing seven to eight balls forward. This is commonly viewed as unwise, and I most definitely understand why. It creates a life filled with greater tension, more days than not. It also greatly reduces how far I can push each ball forward at a time. It’s a slow, long slog forward. Despite the downsides, it has been a place that has made sense for me in the season of life that I’m in and with the work that I’m striving to do and the impact that I’m hoping to have and create.
While it has made sense, the new season I find myself in has called for refining a focus and a shifting of my priorities. Part of the hesitancy for me has been in knowing where to redirect or refocus my energies, meaning which ball makes the most sense to highlight and focus on out of the seven or eight. This has been a question that I’ve been pondering. It’s one that hasn’t been fully resolved or even partially resolved in many ways. I’ve been still getting caught up in the gravity that any change contains and the vastness of what each potential choice held. It will drastically change everything within my life. This is where the question comes in. In meeting with an older mentor, I was profoundly struck by this simple question, “What if it were easy?” Much of what I found myself getting stuck on was the amount of work and effort it would take to create what I hoped, imagined and knew I was capable of producing.
The largeness of that vision had been holding me paralyzed in my current place, unable to move forward into that vision because it felt overwhelming, overbearing and like a load that would crush me and all the other balls I’m pushing forward at the same time. The question that was posed to me was, “What would it look like if it were easy?” This question unlocked my view of this refinement period into something that was an attainable goal with steps that I knew I was going to be able to make. Chunking a larger vision and goal into small, practical, manageable steps is such an important part of any change we make in our lives. This is because change is always hard. It will always feel scary. It will feel difficult, it will feel insurmountable at times and it will inevitably be uncomfortable.
That is the reality of change. Probably my favorite quote unchanged is from George Leonard who said, “Resistance is proportionate to the size and speed of a change, not to whether the change is a favorable or unfavorable one.” It means we will face resistance to any change regardless of if it’s good or bad and that resistance will be greater with the faster and the bigger the change is. Change is hard. We become comfortable with the discomfort of change when we are able to sit with the fears and accept them as real and valid and then walk through the process of those fears and what they contain. Seeing what’s true and untrue about them, because inevitably there’s a lot of irrationality there. Work on figuring out the next step with the question of, “What would this look like if it were easy in the front of our mind?”
It’s important to mention that there is a nuance in this question and thought process. It means it is a gray middle. The balancing perspective that’s equally true and important and that we must consider is that nothing worthwhile in life is easy. When we try to choose the shortcut, we inevitably choose short-term gain at the sacrifice of long-term rewards. Andy Crouch said, “Any change that will profoundly move the horizons of possibility and impossibility will almost always by definition take lots of time. The bigger the change we hope for, the longer we must be willing to invest, work and wait for it.” Ed Zschau said, “You don’t get a quick return creating value for the world. You get a quick return doing something that doesn’t matter.”
The point is things that are worthwhile and meaningful aren’t easy. The goal of asking this question, “What if it were easy?” is not to pretend that life is easy, that making changes easy or that embracing discomfort and walking forward despite your fears is an easy thing to do. In fact, I feel safe and saying that it will never be easy to do. The easy path is floating down the river on the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance in life leads to settling for less than we are capable of. It leads to choosing what’s best in the moment for only our gain and not the benefit of anyone else. Ultimately the gain we want for ourselves is short-lived and sacrifices the long-term gain for the feeling of the moment. It’s a choice that isn’t sustainable and that ultimately produces long-term detriment for ourselves and for others.
When I asked the question, “What if it were easy?” I am in no indicating or proposing the idea that it will ever feel or be easy. The point of the question is to say, “This change I want to create, this goal I want to accomplish, this pursuit that I’m journeying on is so big, so massive and so seemingly insurmountable that I don’t even know how to take the first step. If I have no idea how to take one step and then how am I going to take the thousand other steps that are to come afterwards?” In that place that I find myself in and I know you have at times found yourself in that place as well, that is when you insert the question, “What if it were easy?”Things that are worthwhile and meaningful aren't easy. Click To Tweet
The question is there in order to say, “Since I’m unable to take a step forward, when thinking about how big and vast this future thing is, how can I reduce the size to as small of a version as possible so that I am enabled and empowered to take that first step forward and then continuing to take the next step that makes sense after that? Repeating the process over and over again.” This is the discipline and the muscle of acting before you’re ready to actually make progress on the path that you want to go. James Clear says this beautifully, “When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small.” While we may have big plans for the future, for our lives, for what we want to accomplish, which is a really good thing, if we’re ever going to make progress, we have to think small. We have to chunk it down to as small as possible. The next time you find yourself paralyzed from the largeness of whatever it is, pause, sit with it and ask yourself, “What if it were easy?”
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