This is a guest post from Melissa Brown at Coach Ready Content.
What if it were easy?
Maybe I should have asked myself that question back when I started medical school in 1978. On the first day of classes,
- I was technically homeless in a strange, new city
- With a 10 month old daughter
- Married to an abusive husband (now wasband)
- And clinging to a strong determination to not give up, no matter what.
Some of us seem to take the more difficult road to get to the same place. And yes, that was me—for way too long.
I never stopped once to ask myself the question, ‘what if it were easy’.
My reality was grounded in the false belief that success was something that needed to be hard to achieve. Otherwise, it didn’t ‘count’.
And boy, I made sure that graduating medical school ‘counted’ since it was extra hard for me to reach that goal!
I plowed through each challenge and eventually had my second daughter while in medical school. That took me even further from ‘what if it were easy.’
At the very same time I was handed my medical school diploma, I also received my final divorce papers. Both goals obtained via the hardest route I could take.
It would be many years before I experienced a mind shift to allow me to accept that things could be ‘easy’ and that it didn’t have to be a struggle for success to count.
The meaning your brain attaches to life experiences determines your destiny.
The human brain functions as a machine, searching for meaning in everything it sees, hears, experiences or thinks about. Your brain even began attaching meaning to your actions before you had formal language. Crying loud and long usually meant you got fed. Crying then took on an important meaning for your little brain; crying would be rewarded.
The meaning you give to all your experiences and your relationships with people in your life is directly responsible for your perception of the world—your reality.
These beliefs you have, the meaning you assign to everything, determines what actions you’ll take. These actions then determine your results in life. Therefore, whatever meaning you give something ultimately determines your destiny.
When you assign a meaning that it’s ‘hard’ or ‘easy’ to succeed with something, it definitely affects your perception about whether you’re capable of achieving that goal. And it determines whether you’ll even take action or attempt the goal. Or not.
A common limiting belief.
Like me, you likely grew up with the idea that ‘hard work’ = success. It’s a common limiting belief. With this belief, you might find it difficult to accept success unless the road to get there’s been hard.
But what if, along the way, you ask yourself a simple question to reframe how you get to the end point. . . to success? And looking back, it turns out that success didn’t have to be as hard as your mind initially believed it must be.
The 3 questions.
Several years ago, when I joined Kelly McCausey’s group coaching, she taught me to lean into 3 questions:
- What do I want to create more of in the world?
- What if I’m overthinking?
- What if it were easy?
As I thought about question # 1, I knew I wanted to bring healthy lifestyle habits to more people. I also knew I wanted to expand my work with BlinkNow, a non-profit to help children and women in Nepal create a better life.
I was definitely overthinking everything I was doing at that time, leading to analysis paralysis.
And then question #3 really stumped me. My belief was that success had to be ‘hard’ and that it wasn’t real unless I worked hard or it came with difficulty. I had my past experiences to point to as perfect examples—I’d always done everything the ‘hard’ way!
Could it be true that I didn’t have to do everything the hard way?
I began to ask that question about everything. What would it look like if this or that goal were easy? And I found myself applying the question equally to business and life decisions.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
My mind was making a shift with the meaning—the belief—that everything had to be difficult. It could be easy. And fun!
I’ve now completely shifted my business focus and instead of helping improve the health of a few folks 1:1 through my previous personal coaching services, I create done-for-you health and wellness content and teach content marketing.
This way, many health and wellness-preneurs and lifestyle coaches can help their clients with the content I write. In effect, I’ve now multiplied my efforts to create healthy lifestyle habits for more people doing something that feels easier for me. And it creates more of what I want in the world.
Over the course of the past few years, I’ve learned a few things about embracing, “What if it were easy?” on a day-to-day basis.
These are some tips I’ve learned on this journey.
Tip #1: Hit the pause button and ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were easy?”
If you’re stuck, not moving forward, and every decision seems to be hard for you, the best thing to do is hit the pause button.
For me, it’s the moment I recognize the feelings of overwhelm that makes me reach for my pause button. I want to stop overwhelm before it causes a slow-down or shut down as it has for me in the past.
Stop and ask yourself one simple question, “What would this look like if it were easy?” And then get quiet and wait for an answer. It might actually take a while for the answer to come, but chances are, the answer will readily bubble up. And you might actually come to realize there are multiple ways that it might be easy.
Don’t immediately dismiss any answer. We humans have a tendency to experience automatic negative thoughts when we look for solutions to a challenge. I call these automatic negative thoughts, ANTS. Squash the ANTS and fully consider any thoughts you have about what if it were easy.
Tip #2: Meditation helps you get clarity.
Meditation is a fabulous way to access answers to the ‘what if it were easy’ question. I’ve learned there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to meditate. Don’t overthink how to meditate.
Here are some suggestions to get you started. Find a quiet area where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. Get comfortable in a seated position, feet on the floor to get grounded. You might want to play soothing instrumental music in the background or perhaps diffuse some essential oils while you meditate.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathe in and out slowly as you feel the breath move in and out of your lungs. Ask yourself quietly in your mind what would easy look like for this situation. Continue to think about the question and focus on your breathing. Make mental note of different ideas, answers, or concepts revealed to you while you meditate.
Be aware of the ANTS that might show up. Don’t judge or dismiss ideas at this point.
You might want to have a journal alongside you when you meditate. As soon as you finish your meditation session, you can immediately write down all the thoughts or ideas that come up during your meditation.
Tip #3: It’s easier when you ask for help.
Who said you have to do it all by yourself? Asking for and accepting offers for help can move things into an easier column when you’re not trying to do everything alone.
Asking for help could mean speaking to a trusted friend to ask their opinion or brainstorming together. It could mean hiring a coach to help you gain clarity and develop an implementation plan.
It might mean hiring a VA or local teen to do some business tasks that bog you down. By delegating those tasks, you’re now free to do more income producing activities.
You might find that business decisions become easier when you’re a member of a business-focused community. You can then bounce ideas around with the other members. By asking for some eyeballs on a web or sales page you’re not sure about, you can stop worrying what’s wrong with it and get some other opinions to be able to move forward.
There’s no shame in asking for help. Asking and accepting help definitely makes things easier.
Tip #4: Knowledge is power but without action, knowledge is useless. Take action.
I’ve learned that you don’t have to get more certifications, degrees, or take more courses/more information before you can start. You have enough knowledge already to take meaningful action. The more you overthink and delay, the harder everything feels.
This is one huge lesson I’ve learned: Just go ahead and jump in and do something every day towards whatever it is that you want to do. You can always tweak your initial course of action but if you never start, you’ll never know the greatness you’re capable of.
If feels a lot harder to wait until the ‘right’ moment than to jump in and take action now. The right moment will never come. Claim now as the right moment and take action. Now.
Tip #5: There is no failure—only feedback.
If something’s not bringing you joy, or your results aren’t what you wanted, do something different. Ask the easy question and then course correct.
Try new things. Tweak what’s working and what’s not working. The road to success is not a straight line. Nor does it have to be hard for it to count.
Reframe what doesn’t work. It’s a lot easier when you view something as feedback, not failure.
My question to you.
Now here’s the golden question for you. What are you currently making hard for yourself in your life or in your business?
And what that would look like if it were easy?
Let me know in the comments below.
Dr. Melissa Brown's career journey has always had an element of teaching–initially teaching parents and children how to live a healthy life through her work as a pediatrician.
After retirement from clinical practice in 2009, Dr. Brown has taught and mentored as a healthy lifestyle coach, author, and speaker.
Dr. Brown now helps teach and train solopreneurs and coaches to stop being the world's best-kept secret. Her mission is to help others:
Create great content. Impact people. Change the world.