This week a friend mentioned the acronym, “ELF.” She told me it stood for Easy, Lucrative, Fun, and she was checking new business ideas against it. As she spoke, I jotted down “ELF.” Within a few minutes my mind had forgotten what it stood for and had changed it to Easy, Light, and Free. That feels perfect for me as a guideline for working.
I love focused, engaged working! These days that’s mostly technical writing or writing prayers, books, songs, and blog posts. I can write for hours and days. If I have a deadline, I shift into 5th gear and write fluidly and joyfully, knowing I will meet that deadline. What I don’t like and don’t do anymore is any work that has that nose-to-the-grindstone feeling about it. I’ve done my share of weeks and years of grindstone work, but no more.
Easy, Light, and Free works well for me. I can make any project Hard, Heavy, and Burdensome, and I often start projects in that “Poor Me, I have to work” state of mind. But, at some point, I usually surrender to the task and it becomes ELF and it feels like magic.
I used to think that the work itself was hard and, when I was a young man working in construction, it was physically demanding. Now that I have this skill of surrender, I realize I could have surrendered to almost any work that I was committed to continuing. A little surrender would have gone a long way toward lightening at least my mental load, if not the physical. Surrender would have lifted the weight of resistance and eased the drag of feeling sorry for myself.
I like the idea of applying ELF—Easy, Light, and Free—to my work. I will apply it to every task and I hope I remember to do it at the beginning of those tasks. If I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice, I might suggest that my earlier version give up the grindstone and pray this prayer:
Higher Power, I’m going to do this work today. Please guide me to surrender so that I can make it Easy, Light, and Free. Thank you!
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