Even if you have a lot of work to do, if you think of it as wonderful, and if you feel it as wonderful, it will transform into the energy of joy and fire, instead of becoming a burden.
–Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
When I was in graduate school, my best friend in the program, Lori, and I would sometimes launch a friendly competition to see who could start the best procrastination project to avoid completing our challenging assignments.
One month my procrastination project was organizing a folder of recipes I’d ripped from magazines – even more ridiculous since I didn’t cook at the time. Lori handily won the contest after spending an entire Saturday afternoon drawing and cutting out adhesive flower petals and putting them on the bottom of her bathtub!
Somehow, despite our creative diversions, we both graduated, but not without a lot of suffering. Even when we were engaged in our avoidance activities, we were never truly free of the heaviness and anxiety of postponing our work.
Can you relate?
Fast forward 10 years. I’m attending an orientation program at my son’s high school where the faculty is reviewing the character-based guidelines that are the bedrock of the community. Not only did the school insist the students follow the guidelines, but they also encouraged the parents to do so as well.
This is where I was introduced to the motto: “Hard before easy” and boy does it work!
Now when I consider my to-do list each day, I ask myself which task is the hardest and do my best to tackle that first. If I don’t have time to complete the task at that time, I’ll at least spend a few minutes getting it started – often the hardest part.
For instance, one item on my to-do list this week is giving some difficult feedback to a vendor I work with who hasn’t been delivering. This is something that could easily prompt me to dive into a procrastination project like Googling recipes for the perfect guacamole. But instead, I spent the first 15 minutes of my workday writing my notes for the conversation and scheduling our meeting. Just taking these first small steps on this hard item made me feel more comfortable and more confident.
Once we have the conversation, I’ll Google guac recipes as a reward.
And if I’m really productive this week, maybe I’ll even make it!
So dear reader, tell me, what “hard thing” you’ll do today.