Let’s talk about crunch time.
When things get difficult, I often hear my clients using really violent metaphors for how they’re going to “survive the season”. They’ll double down, put their nose to the grindstone, kick their own asses, bust their butts, suck it up, grin and bear it, and remind themselves there’s no gain unless there’s pain. The going gets tough, and the tough has assuredly gotten going! I’m an accomplished professional at adopting these same phrases to help me push through hard times. I remind myself how broad my shoulders are, how many hard things I’ve made it through before, and just how many people are depending on me.
The pressure’s on, and what do we do? We rearrange our schedules, set that alarm a little earlier, power through an extra hour or two (or three) of work, skip meals, cram our faces with RX Bars instead of intentional meals, and chug the Red Bulls to keep us going. In Western culture, and for many of my clients, it’s pretty much a badge of honor to be burned out, overburdened, and completely engulfed by our commitments. And even if we’re not proud of it, we’re so damn familiar with it we don’t even question it any more. Or maybe we’re just too darn tired to question it.
And yet… there are two simple questions that could shift this entire experience when we’re feeling under the gun and overloaded.
- Do I really need to do this?
- How can it be easier?
It’s that simple, and also that complex.
For many of us, the option to ask “Do I really need to do this?” either never occurs to us or we’ve never even entertained it as a question we’re allowed to ask. (Now, before you slam your laptop shut or toss your phone in disgust thinking, “Well, she obviously doesn’t realize I can’t tell my boss no!” – hang in here for a few more sentences.) Sitting with this question can help you unlock times when you really do NOT need to do the thing you’re about to do, even if at first glance it seems like a nonnegotiable. You can also append the words “right now” to the end of it and perhaps get better control of how you’re choosing to use your time. “Do I really need to do this right now?”
And if your answer to the original first question is that yes, you do need to do it, then you get to move on to question #2! Whether you really NEED to do the thing right then or whether you’re choosing to, shift into the inquiry of how it could actually be easier. Again, it’s so familiar to get caught up in go, go, go, do, do, do mode that we forget to explore whether or not there’s an easier way to go about whatever it is you’re engaging in. I had a Coach recently share this perspective of what to do when times get tough, encouraging me to look for what was easiest rather than trying to figure out how I was going to power through whatever challenging path seemingly laid ahead for me. Insert head exploding emoji here, because in all my decades on this planet, looking for what was easiest was literally not part of how I experienced my life and decision making!
Take those two questions out for a spin first, and if you find yourself intrigued by the experience, add in a third question to really challenge yourself: how can I make this more fun? Again, this is a radically simple question that can lead to some major experiential differences in your day-to-day life!
If you’re interested in shifting your experience of taxing times and sticky situations, I promise you that asking these questions and really delving into the answers will adjust your approach. Regardless of what you’ve been taught, seen in the movies, or even experienced – it IS possible to get your shift together and change how you move through situations.