Don’t raise the bar for yourself: lower it

I recently made a super-important decision about the writing around here: from now on, the bar for it will be much lower.

Yes, lower! I’ve realized that the bar for this blog (and pretty much any task I set out to do) is too damn high: so high that it scares me right away from just sitting down to write them once a week. I have total responsibility for this, of course, which is a massive relief, because that means I can make some changes pronto.

REBEL

…against the idea that “the hard way” is automatically better. It isn’t. Sometimes it is, but less often than you think.

Here are the old requirements for my emails:

  • Must be super, incredibly, hair-blown-back-ingly valuable for Dear Reader (that’s you <3)
  • Must be LOL hilarious at least once, preferably like four or five times
  • Must be charming and endearing
  • Must give BIIIG cool & confident energy
  • Must teach Dear Reader something that they can’t wait to start trying
  • Should get them thinking, “Oh snap, I think I want to work with this delightful weirdo.” (that’s me <3)
  • Must prove that I know what I’m talking about
  • Needs to be long enough
  • Not too long though
  • Oh yeah, shouldn’t there be a call to action? Marketers always say that
  • Make it *p u n c h y*, give is SASS
  • Should probably include a story, people love stories
  • Formatting must be on point
  • Oh wow, did you read all of these? I appreciate it and CANNOT give you any of that time back, so sorry

Yeesh. No wonder I don’t always get emails out once a week, like I want.

Sure, I don’t actually have this list posted above my desk. But it’s nailed to a bulletin board in a dingy little office somewhere in my subconscious mind, and without even realizing, I’ve been going through it item-by-item every time I sit down to write you a note.

After some thought, I’m pleased as peach pie to share my new list of requirements for my emails to you, Dear Reader:

  • It has words
  • I was lovingly thinking of Dear Reader while writing said words

Mmm, are we having burritos for lunch? Because THAT’S A WRAP. (Yeah, that is two food references really close together, and yeah, maybe I am a little hungry, what of it?)

This new list is short. This new list meets the most important requirement for my emails in two tiny steps. And, perhaps most beautifully of all, this new list is melt-in-your-mouth deliciously EASY to execute. It’s like the chocolate lava cake of lists—the kind that comes out with a sparkler and makes you giggle like a preschooler when you see it. (Sans the serving staff singing to you, because that’s awkward for everyone who is and is not involved.)

REVEL

…in knowing that doing things “the easy way” can feel amazing, if you let it.

There’s a powerful, underrated joy that comes with allowing things to be easier for yourself.

And that’s the key: allowing. Because your brain is already doing parkour to make some self-sabotaging leaps that convince you that your things can’t be easier.

You know what though? It’s totally okay if your brain is rejecting this idea as we speak! That makes sense, right? Most of us have been programmed to think that “easy” is bad. So, it’s actually kind of hard to let things be easy, because life loves hilarious irony as much as the rest of us do. Apparently.

We think that “taking the easy way out” actually means that we’re being lazy and not trying “hard enough.”

If we do something and it seems easy to us, we doubt ourselves and question if we should have put more effort into it—especially true when other people report having a hard time with the same thing.

Instead of bearing the shame of doing things an easier way—via taking on less work, outsourcing the shit we don’t want to do, putting less pressure on ourselves, or even just asking for help—we’d rather bear the exhaustion of doing things “the way we’re supposed to,” even when that way clearly doesn’t agree with us in a physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual sense.

It’s a lot. It really is. It’s so much more than many of us realize: a heavy weight we’ve carried around for so long that we’ve forgotten that lightness is even a possibility. A backpack full of stones that we unknowingly require ourselves to shoulder, even though it doesn’t help us and we kind of fucking hate it.

This post is just a friendly reminder that you can remove some stones from the backpack.

You can consider it permission from me, if you want, but I really suggest giving yourself permission.

Tell yourself it’s okay to let something hard in your life be a little easier. You’re already incredibly skilled at convincing yourself why you should be able to handle this thing being as hard as it is: so you can apply that skill to making a strong case for why you would tremendously benefit from handling an easier version of your thing.

Here’s a simple way I approach this:

  1. Pick A SINGLE thing to work on at first. To start, try identifying something you’ve been procrastinating on, even though you really want to make it happen. Make it very clear and very simple for yourself. “Writing more” is vague and complicated. “Writing fiction for ten minutes a day” is clear and simple. “Cleaning the house” is vague and complicated. “Collecting dishes from around the house and putting them into the kitchen sink” is clear and simple.
  2. Make a list of your unconscious requirements. This is like the first list above. What do you think “has to happen” in order for you to like the way you do this thing? What does it need to look like? How do you need to feel about it? What opinions do you need to have about it? Try to approach this step with thoroughness, curiosity, and an open mind. Some of your reasons may seem trivial or ridiculous, and some may be hard to look at—write them all down!
  3. Reflect. Just look at your list and let it marinate for a bit. Come back to it in a day, or a few hours if you’re impatient/worried you won’t get back to it if you wait too long.
  4. Make a new list of conscious requirements. This list will ideally be very short—three items at the very most, preferably fewer. Ask yourself, “What’s the very minimum I can do to make this happen?” When you have that answer, see if you can lower the bar even more. Just drop that sucker on the ground. Remember, the point is to make this dead easy for yourself.
  5. Put this short list somewhere you can see it often and do your best to honor it.

This might make you squeamish if you have high standards for yourself, so here’s another reminder: you’re always free to exceed your own expectations.

Chances are, you’ll do more than your easy bare minimum 9 out of 10 times. But when you lower the expectations you have for yourself in the first place, you save a lot of the energy that usually gets burned up in the process of going back-and-forth with yourself about even just starting because your bar for “a good job” is chilling somewhere up in the stratosphere.

Easy is fine. Sure, sometimes it can lead to laziness, complacency, or boredom… but so what? When that happens, we can adjust and make things interesting again. In the meantime, I can safely say we deserve to do ourselves the kind, respectful, loving favor of giving ourselves easier ways of doing hard things.

Hit Reply and tell me what you’re going to make easier for yourself! I’m nosy, I wanna know ASAP, and I love supporting you. And if you want to continue with the trend of doing yourself cool favors, MAY I CASUALLY SUGGEST hiring me as your coach? My clients take this work to new heights because they have a pro helping them call their brains out on the brain bullshit allll of our brains are so good at spouting. It makes a big difference!

Book a 15-minute breakthrough call & I promise to send you off with new awareness of a bullshit lie your brain is telling you that’s keeping you stuck, burned out, and/or self-critical. Do ittt—it’s easy!

Here’s to appreciating the path of least resistance from time to time.

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