A few weeks ago, I had a birthday. As is my habit when birthdays roll around, I took a little inventory of the year–in particular, thinking about what I had done, who I had been, what I had learned. Then I thought about what I’d like to cultivate in 2011. It was one of those lists where, sure, some part of me had the inner critic chattering away about “being realistic” and all of that, but–well. The chattering of my critic has become something more like the ramblings of a crazy person on the streets of San Francisco. I’m not inclined to run away, frantic, but I don’t really pay too much attention to anyone screaming “The sky is falling!” Okay, maybe if Joseph Stiglitz said it, I’d believe it. But otherwise…

Here’s what I wrote down (very fast, in no particular order of hierarchy):

  • continue to grow my relationship with my partner, Andy
  • study Italian enough to have basic fluency
  • collaborate on projects with people like Danielle LaPorte, Chris Guillbeau, Havi Brooks, Jamie Ridler, and other powerful people–so many–
  • talk about transforming your relationship to fear at the World Domination Summit
  • Be a part of the Life Remix blogging crew
  • Net $100k from my business
  • start a publishing relationship with New World Library
  • get back into yoga on a 5x weekly basis
  • take more photographs–weekly photo dates
  • start blogging for the Huffington Post
  • write more fiction than non-
  • forgive the baggage I’ve been carrying around with ________ (in the interests of protecting that person’s privacy, I’ll leave that blank)
  • have a kick-ass toned bod that is 20 lbs lighter
  • pay off my student loans/ all debt
  • put $20k or more in savings
  • donate money (gobs n’ gobs n’ gobs) to Kiva, Doctors Without Borders, and Challenge Day
  • thirty day meditation retreat at Green Gulch Zen Center
  • complete all levels of HAI
  • bring a greater level of connection to all of my friendships
  • limit my workday to 1-2 hours per day
  • take salsa lessons

List Making

I made the list “Mondo Beyondo style,” aka, in a way that just gets in there and gets all sassy and “Hey, why not?” about it.

But once I’d written out this pretty powerful, “shit, did I really just write that?” kind of list, I realized that 2010 has been all about hard work–literally, the adjective fits. Hard work.

I realized that what I wanted most with any of this is to start experimenting with what I’m terming “conscious ease.” The idea that none of this actually “has to” be hard. One of the things I work on with coaching clients and teach in my Guides is that language is a huge channel for changing the way we think of things. Start noticing every place in your life where you’re pulling a “have to” and swap that out for a “choose to” or “get to,” and the entire energy dynamic shifts.

So I want to create this thing–conscious ease. I am choosing to walk into 2011 with an energy of experimenting with how it might not necessarily be “hard.” The idea that achieving one’s dreams is “hard” is pure Story–the objective approach would be to say that some people would define their experience that way, while others would not. In particular, I want to start noticing where I attach “hard” to things. I have already begun noticing where I say things like, “It’s been a hard (day/week/month)” or “I’ve been working hard” or “I’ve never worked harder in my life” or “It’s hard to want” or “It’s hard to like”…any of those statements.

The flip side

The flip side, you might have already picked up on. The flip side of all of this is an inner critic just waiting to kick my ass for daring to think that I would be allowed to “get away with” anything being easy. What gives me the right? Who says I deserve that? In fact, my inner critic says, “You’re supposed to work hard.” My inner critic gets triggered and enormously resents the people who look like they’ve had it “easy.”

This, of course, is also just a Story. There’s no law that says anything is supposed to be hard–for me, it boils down to personal integrity. I just want to be in integrity with me, and if I’m in integrity with me I know that I claim my life, my choices, and I want to do good work in the world. I also want to have some fun along the way, and everything that is on my list is something that connects me more to me and more to others. And that’s really want I want–really all I think anyone wants. I actually do enjoy working in a way that is focused and intentional–love it, in fact–though I differentiate that from “working hard,” which conjures up this idea for me of always needing to be relentless about doing more, doing better.

So what about you? Where in your life do you most want to create a life of conscious ease?