“Burnout is not a badge of honor.” Greg McKeown

I was on a nice long bike ride Saturday morning. I love my weekend morning rides – I get in about 20 miles, slowly and peacefully, and ride some of the most beautiful hills the east side of Cleveland has to offer. Now I have a hybrid, not a road bike, and no official bike gear, which means I’m a total novice. And I look the part. “Real” bikers zip by me on the regular in a way that looks almost effortless, while I’m usually working pretty hard. They’re on fast bikes with sleek gear and look like, well, bikers. That’s not what I’m after – I love the slow burn of a solo ride going my own pace in my own way.

Saturday, though, something felt off. I was slower than everyone else per usual, but it just felt harder and I could not mentally get into the flow. I noticed this and actively tried to change my mindset – I’m a mindset coach after all! I thought if I could just focus on the beauty around me, the sound of the birds, the feel of the wind on my skin, I could get into the groove of the ride.

But nothing seemed to work. In short, the ride kind of sucked.

When I finally got home, after way longer than the ride usually takes me, I asked my husband to check my tires when he got a chance.

“I checked your tires last weekend – they were flat!” he informed me. Ah, but he forgot to tell me. And I didn’t think to check. So I rode on pretty flat tires which, naturally, made my ride feel like junk.

What’s the point of this story? Often, we make things harder than they need to be. Maybe not completely by accident by not checking our tires or forgetting to tell our wife she needs air in her tires and our pump is broken. More often than not, we make things harder because we live in a society that glorifies hard. 

I think this ethos that hard signifies value and worth harkens back to our Puritan days. Puritanism didn’t just embrace the hard. It also bred a distrust of the easy.

And listen, sometimes hard is inevitable. But if we can prime our minds to ask the question “how could this be easy,” we might just find some significant relief.

This is the concept in Greg McKeown’s new book, Effortless. McKeown is the author of the NYT bestseller Essentialism, which urged for a paring down of our priorities to get to the heart of what matters most to us. Effortless is all about doing the most important – aka essential – things, but in an easier way.

I’m loving this book so much already and I’m only about halfway through. I recommend it with enthusiasm!