Create Conditions for Success

Like most adults I have some chores that I don’t mind completing and others that I loathe LOATHE. Yes, tasks that I “all caps” can’t stand to do. For me, ironing clothes has been at the top of the list for years.

I have always been amazed when other people talk about finding ironing clothes satisfying or therapeutic. I also marvel at people talking about it like it is a normal part of their everyday rhythms. For me, it is something I avoid at all costs. I often wonder if maybe putting the shirt back in the dryer will resolve the wrinkles. Or, if I wear it anyway, maybe the wrinkles are subtle enough to be overlooked. Historically, I have been the worst about ironing and have gone out of my way to circumvent the chore.

Then it dawned on me. Maybe, just maybe, ironing wasn’t such a bad chore but the iron itself was the problem. It was the tool, not the task.

Our iron is ancient. I think my husband had it before we even started dating. This means, at best, the iron is 16 years old. The chord struggles to plug into the outlet and I have to use excessive force when trying to unplug it. It also has a heavily scarred face, from all the ironing my husband must do –  because you know it isn’t me! The poor thing has seen its prime and is now in its sunset years, ready to be retired. Looking at it the other day I realized that perhaps I’ve never experienced the best-case-scenario of ironing. I’ve been using a sub-par tool.

Transforming a Tired Chore

Off to Target I went. With my kids in tow, I browsed the iron aisle and landed on an iron priced at $26.99. It wasn’t the cheapest but it wasn’t the most expensive. Unwilling to spend much on a chore I hate, I decided this was a reasonable investment in my chore experiment. 

I went home, plugged in my beautiful new appliance, and began to explore what’s possible. I’m happy to report – I’m a reformed iron-er. It really isn’t the horrible chore I thought it was. I finally understand how satisfying it is to watch wrinkles erase before my eyes, while the shiny metal-faced appliance glides over the fabric. It was easy to plug in and equally easy to unplug. It was simple and effective. I couldn’t believe how transformed the experience was, all thanks to my new tool. 

Now you’ve read multiple paragraphs about my battle with ironing. Yes, it may seem silly that a simple household chore has haunted me for years. I’m sure you have your least favorite chore and can relate to those feelings? Or maybe your “ironing” is a chronic frustration at work or in a relationship. There is a core concept underlying my ironing quest that transcends our various life contexts: conditions to succeed.

Do you have the conditions necessary to succeed? 

My laundry failures weren’t because I lacked ability. It was because I lacked the proper tool. I did not have conditions in place that allowed me the “best case scenario” for ironing my clothes. Instead, I used an outdated solution that was clunky and frustrating. It made the process, start to finish, feel like an inconvenience. A small investment in updating the tool resulted in a major impact on my attitude and experience.

I wonder what “ironing” frustrations you are dealing with? Are you bumping up against an issue that is causing you to avoid the work or dodge the responsibilities because you simply can’t imagine dealing with the aggravation and annoyance it will bring? What type of situational or circumstantial change might you make to ease the aches and pains of your situation?

At home, it may be creating a shared family schedule so everyone is on the same page and moves more smoothly through your weeks. I know this helps our family keep track of the many moving parts.

At work, it could be requesting a software tool that streamlines a process or provides more information at your fingertips. I leaned into this reality when I enhanced our website subscription so I had better analytics at my fingertips.

In your relationships, it could be asking for a standing coffee meeting to ensure an important  connection remains intact and strong. My friend Sam and I do this with a standing walk/talk lunch meeting.

There are little tweaks you can make, $26.99-sized-tweaks, that will yield a significant return, as you seek out and implement conditions for success. 

Pause and Assess Your Frustrations

When you find yourself chronically frustrated I encourage you to pause and ask yourself if you have conditions to succeed. Essentially, is the problem something innate to you or is the problem a circumstantial one? Ask yourself if it is the task or the tool that is a problem. Be honest with yourself in your reflection because there are times our attitudes are the issue. However, if you realize there may be a practical solution to the frustration you face I encourage you to invest. I know that the $26.99 I invested in a new iron has alleviated the cost of frustration (and wrinkly clothes).

Create conditions in which you can succeed! 

What do you think? (leave a comment!)