The Myth of Endurance
This question posted in a working mom’s FB group got an avalanche of flabbergasted responses:
Boring. Awful. Broke. No career. I would be living in a van by the river. Alone. No kids, etc., etc.
Agreed, the question takes it to the extreme with “only do what’s easy”, but our aversion to “easy” is palpable.
One mom summed it up:
I wouldn’t be where I am today. I believe that discipline, hard work, and pushing through things that are hard are the reasons I am so successful... Comfort keeps people stuck. I love getting out of my comfort zone and pushing my limits. Each time I conquer something I am stronger and more prepared for the next challenge.
This approach is admirable for sure if it makes you feel joyful and satisfied along the way. Otherwise “pushing through” becomes another version of the comfort zone.
It’s an illusion that the comfort zone means you actually are comfortable there. Rather you repeat the same behaviors and habits.
If you go from one challenge to another, at which point would you “stop and smell the roses”? When enough’s enough? The answer is never.
This is the “myth of endurance” that we all adopt to varying degrees - no pain, no gain, soldier on, persevere, push through.
Easy is scary
If we have something to persevere, we’re satisfied. This means we are on the right track. If it’s easy, we feel guilty and alarmed - we must be losing career opportunities or screwing up our kids. It simply cannot be progress because it’s easy!
No wonder that Deloitte’s survey showed that 77% of all respondents experienced burnout at their current workplace and over 50% mentioned multiple instances.
Fear of financial hardship and FOMO are the genesis of the “myth of endurance.”
Ironically, you make your life very hard by trying to avoid hardship.
You miss your inspiration
Do you think creativity or inspiration feel like soldering on and pushing through? Or does it feel more fluid than that?
The total disdain and condescension to “easy” that most of us acquired means that if you ever stumble upon your inspiration, your true strengths, things that light you up, you would ignore them. They would feel easy thus cannot be right.
As a leader, if you want your team to be positive, creative, innovative, you cannot model and promote a stifling environment of no-pain-no-gain, and be overly concerned with face-time. It will be very difficult to get more fluid qualities from your employees. It simply does not work this way.
It will be easy for me when...
Isn’t ease and lightness what we want in life. Don’t we secretly envy people who seem to have everything falling on their lap? We, too, would like to feel ease, when/if we get a higher bonus, inherit a trust fund (as if!) or our spouse gets a raise.
By pushing away the “easy” and making its possibility conditional on achieving external goals, we make it impossible for us to actually get there.
I say this with the greatest compassion because I have been there, too.
Now I believe that I don't need to go after the hardest thing all the time and prove myself. I know that “easy” can be productive, that you can be responsible to others, and have immediate pleasure in your life.
When I work with clients, I guide them to tap into the right kind of “easy” and achieve more of what’s meaningful to them with less stress by using their inner strengths and learning to say “no” to things that are just too complicated and too distant from what they really want. They still put effort for sure, but it no longer feels like “soldiering on”, it’s much more choice- and strengths-based, and keeps you in your integrity.
Bring more ease now!
The good news is that you can change it right there and now. By 1) accepting that it is possible to have ease in life, and 2) starting to practice it, before you or your spouse get a raise (you may actually get there quicker, too).
Here are a couple of simple steps that will get you there (please don’t look down upon them because they are too “easy”. This is your first test whether you can do what’s easy).
Think about the project, things you want to create or accomplish…
- What do you already know about it?
- Who already supports you?
- What are clients already asking you for?
Ease builds momentum, motivation, and muscle to choose the work ahead of you that will require more patience and stamina.
Start there and see how the project may turn more enjoyable and successful.
Who do you know who is pushing through and soldering on? Forward this article with them and this link to sign up for a discovery session here to see how to bring more ease in their lives.
Sveta Parilova is a career and leadership coach who partners up with mid-career professionals to help them get rekindled and renewed about their work/career so that they feel less stressed and more joyful at work and at home. She is passionate about supporting people in their search for purpose and meaning in their work and life and is humbled and honored to be part of their journey to a more joyful self. Click here to schedule a Complimentary Discovery Session and learn more!