“One last question.” She paused. “When does it get easier?”
For a good hour we’d reviewed her goals, timelines, and action steps. An energetic entrepreneur, she’d left her lucrative but grueling job at the insurance company to strike out on her own. She’d managed to get a steady stream of clients, pay down debt, and develop a reputation as a brilliantly insightful consultant.
But life wasn’t any easier. She recently recovered from surgery, had a niece now diagnosed with cancer, and was implementing new software for her business. She was worn out and overwhelmed.
I resisted the hollow words of “someday”, “eventually”, and “in time.”
“Let’s talk about that next week,” I said.
Starting my law practice decades ago, I worried about having too few clients and tried to get by with just one assistant. For years I slept too little, laughed too little, and worked too much.
Life was exhausting.
Over time, the firm and my small family grew. Eventually? Too much work and too little time.
Life was still hard.
For years it never occurred to me that my days could—or perhaps even should— have some measure of ease. My mom had eight children; I only had two. My sister lost her career when she went blind in college; I’m on my second of two professions I’ve loved.
Until I believed it was not only okay but also possible for my life to be easier, I did not consider my power to make it so. Instead of comparing my life to others who suffered more (or being filled with envy of those I imagined living on Easy Street), I had to tell the truth about my choices.
A longtime solo practitioner, my pride (read: ego) resisted admitting I was incapable of doing everything on my own. In my quest for approval from others, I refused to allow others to see me slacking for a second. Attempting to impress my imaginary boss, I ignored the wonders of true breaks, small meditations, or ten-minute walks.
Over the years, the challenges of neither life nor death stopped. Some I chose, like writing a book or giving a TED talk. Others arrived uninvited, like the passing of my mother or the Christmas time car crash crushing my son’s limbs.
I’d long blamed reality as the reason for life being hard. I was slow to realize my responses were the more real reason. When I stopped seeing ease as a sin, I could start making the small changes in my everyday life that I long resisted as an overworking student, spouse, parent, and professional.
When I see my client next, I’ll have more questions than answers: What would an easier life look like, and where shall we start to help you get there?