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Don’t make things harder than they need to be.
Right before my 40th birthday, as cliché as it may sound, I decided to prioritize the little-big voice in my head and quit my job to pursue my dream of writing and coaching.
The initial buzz was intoxicating. Ideas for articles flooded my head. I wrote them down anywhere and everywhere—in notebooks, on my phone, on my computer, on little slips of paper, and even on favorite book covers.
Over time, however, it all became seriously overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start.
Fortunately, during a recent training for a coaching certification, a teacher said something that gave me instant clarity: “When approaching hard things, find your ‘easy button.’”
At first, I was a bit confused, but this logic made perfect sense. Finding your “easy button” simply means letting yourself notice what changes when you ask yourself “What if this were easy?” From there, you can find the most basic way to start.
Immediately after hearing the advice, a thought occurred to me: “What if my ‘easy button’ for my first article is writing about the importance of having an easy button?”
It’s easy to get caught up in our own heads when starting new things. This is especially true if it’s something that means a great deal to us. We put lots of pressure on ourselves to deliver something wonderful, and this internal self-talk can stop us from taking the first right step.
When you’re stuck, however, the goal should be movement—not perfection.
Our brain is so used to making up excuses as to why important things to us have to be hard. No pain, no gain, right? But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Shirzad Chamine, Stanford lecturer, author, and CEO of Positive Intelligence, breaks this down well:
“There is a part of your brain that’s so used to life being difficult and challenges being stressful. And then there’s the other part that can figure out that the answer is right there; the easy answer is right there in front of your nose.”
You need to make it easy for your mind to be your friend and activate the part of your brain that sees opportunities.
How to play the “easy button” game for yourself:
Getting both your positive and negative thoughts on paper can seriously help with finding your “easy button.” First, write down your exact challenge and then embrace this recipe:
>> Take a moment to write down all the negative thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing thinking about this challenge. Is it fear, uncertainty, unclarity, insecurity, frustration, anger, or regret? While doing this, pay attention to your body. How’s your posture, facial muscles, and your breathing?
>> Now, write down how good you’d feel if you faced this challenge. Again, pay attention to your body and the shifts you experience. Even better, move to another place in the room or turn in another direction to help your mind shift too.
>> Finally, ask yourself the following question: “What would I do if this were easy?” and write down as many ideas as you can in five minutes.
When you write “the” answer, you’ll probably feel it in your body.
When that happens, drop your pen and take the first step.
For me, my easy button was writing my first article about this very exercise. Is it cheating? Maybe. But I also think it’s pretty smart. I needed movement and this simple idea got me moving.
Not only that, but it also got me thinking about easy next steps. For example, after writing the article, I followed the simple list I wrote while brainstorming in my “easy place”: I looked for a publication to submit this article to, asked my teacher for more homework, and I outlined my next article.
All of these things are not only actionable steps, but they are all in my control, which seriously helped to combat the feeling of having nothing under my control while embarking on a new career.
If this connects with you, maybe the next right thing you can do is steal it.
And while you’re at it, why not find a “fun” button,” a “soulful” button, a “summer-vibe” button, or even a “silly” button to have in your arsenal when life gets tough?
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