Some people (including me) are people pleasers, perfectionists and grafters. We are inclined to put the needs of our work, and others, above our own and to consider ‘taking it easy’ to be synonymous with ‘lazy’ (which, in its turn is taken as a huge insult). We are not naturally inclined to ask the question how can I make this easier for myself? which is why we absolutely should be asking ourselves this.
A segway to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (it’s relevant, I promise!)
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a book any yoga teacher, or student looking to deepen their practice will be familiar with. It’s an ancient yogic text that is the foundation of the various yoga practices we practice today. In it, Patanjali lays out his eight-limbed system of yoga. One of these limbs is asana (the physical postures or ‘seat’ as it’s literally translated). Asana gets little mention in the Sutras, but Sutra 2.46 does mention it.
“sthira sukham asanam”
This Sutra is often translated to mean every asana, or posture, should be stable (shtira) and comfortable (sukha). It can also be more literally translated as “resolutely abide in a good space.”
Now for how it relates…
When the people pleasers, perfectionist and grafters amongst us attend a yoga class we want to take the most challenging version of a posture we possibly can. We view props (blocks, straps etc) as something that highlights our inadequacy and tend to refrain from using them, even when they will help us.
I don’t do this anymore. You know why? Because I started asking myself the question how can I make this easier for myself?
Because I had great teachers who made me realise it’s not about doing the picture perfect pose. It’s about working the appropriate muscle groups, and finding steadiness and ease. Yoga is about abiding in the good space, not stretching for perfectionism and perhaps sustaining an injury along the way.
How I take this off the mat
Yoga taught me that I am responsible for my own happiness. If something isn’t working for me I have the ability to change it. So now one of my first questions when planning an event, a project, or any item on my to-do list is how can I make this easier for myself?
This doesn’t mean I’m cheating, cutting corners or avoiding the work. What it does mean is I’m acknowledging my limited resource of energy and choosing how I want to spend it. Working half a day on a task that could, with a little thought and planning, have taken an hour doesn’t seem like the best use of energy to me.
A few practical tips for making things easier
Really the answer to the question how can I make this easier for myself? depends on the specific circumstances. But here are a few tips that might help:
- Consider the aims of what you’re doing and how you can make it easy for yourself to reach those aims. Take out the surplus stuff that doesn’t help you get to the aim. To go back to yoga asana, the aim is the stretch you want to get on a certain muscle not the picture perfect posture – so using props to help us reach that aim is great!
- Delegate. It’s always worth asking if someone else could do the thing. If you have co-workers could they help share the workload? If you don’t, is it worth investing in a VA? And if you don’t have the cash for a VA right now, does it really need doing now? Can you delegate to future you? (ie. prioritise!)
- Don’t do it? This is always worth considering as an option, do you actually need to do it? What would happen if you didn’t?
- Work in an environment that makes you feel good. Because sometimes a horrible task just needs doing and there’s nothing you can do to make the task any different, what you can do is do it with tea and cake and a nice candle burning (or whatever floats your boat).
So if you’re naturally inclined towards perfectionism like me, have a go at asking yourself how you can make things easier next time you sit down to plan out your day.