Reducing Friction in Life

  • Post category:Productivity

Grease! No, not the 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Today, let’s celebrate the good old-fashioned grease that keeps machinery running smoothly. Were it not for grease, Henry Ford’s innovation of the assembly line and automation would still be just a dream, and you would not have most of the amazing modern conveniences you take for granted every day.

Why is grease so important? It reduces friction. Friction is the enemy of all dynamic systems. And what is your life? One way in which to view your life is as a dynamic system, especially those parts of your life where you are trying to get things done. You are a being in motion within a huge system of beings in motion. You are trying to get things done; therefore, your life has friction. This is unavoidable. But, where is your friction? And what is your grease? Is there a squeaky wheel that is not getting the grease it so desperately cries for? What are some things in your life you are continuing to tolerate even though they are creating so much friction it is literally burning you up inside? What is blocking your action to change? In what ways are those things actually serving you? Here is a method that has proven successful toward reducing friction in my own life and the lives of my clients. I hope it may prove useful for you toward getting your life to run more smoothly.

  1. Awareness is key. First of all, notice in your daily life where you find yourself being frustrated or ineffective. Also, notice where you find yourself procrastinating and resisting certain tasks. Write down what you are doing and any emotions you are feeling. What is happening around you? Who are you with? Do this for a normal work week.
  2. Recognize the patterns. Is the same friction coming up every single day? Are the same people involved? Does it happen at a certain time of day? Maybe it’s just a small thing. You have been telling yourself it’s not a big deal, yet now that you have shined your light of awareness, it keeps coming up. A small impact daily can add up to a huge impact over time. Witness the way a steady drip of water can wear a hole straight through a solid boulder!
  3. Recognize your role and admit to your own responsibility and participation in whatever is causing friction. Do not fall into the trap of thinking it is just the way things are and is outside of your control. If it is causing friction in your life, then it is inside your circle of influence, and you can do something about it. Isn’t that great news?!
  4. Create a compelling reason to make the change. Change is difficult, and so you will resist. Sit down and visualize your life with the source of friction gone! How much time and energy would that free up? How much better would your emotional state be without the negativity? Writing this compelling future down can be useful. 5-10 minutes is plenty.
  5. Make the change. Commit to making the change even though it will be difficult at first. Changing habits always is. As you are making progress, refer back to the awareness of step 1 in order to notice the differences. This will provide motivation to continue improving the situation.

One caveat: do not try to change everything at once. If you do step 1 awareness well, you will come up with several things. Pick one. I suggest the one that you think may be easiest, your low hanging fruit. Start there. Establish a better habit around it for a couple of weeks, then move on to the next thing.

Has this inspired you to create some changes in your work or personal life? Let me know in the comments! Also, please share with anyone who may find it useful. Thank you!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Chris

    “Commit to making the change even though it will be difficult…” I think that’s where I’ve fallen down in the past. I’ve thought “It would be nice to get this and this done in my life.” But hadn’t fully COMMITTED to doing it. Instead I tried to start doing it, found it really painful, and then gave up or avoided it. As a result, I’m still suffering for it all these years later, because it’s still looming over my head! Would be much less cumulative pain to just dive in and do it! (And boy do I wish I had done that years ago…)

    Will commit to doing this now. Thanks

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