[IMGCAP(1)]The CPAs I know, myself included, are no strangers to powering through the difficult patches.

When the going gets tough, we as a professional group tend to square our shoulders, grit our teeth and push ourselves hard. This strategy has served us so well in the past, when brute force was the appropriate answer, that sometimes we resort to it simply out of habit.

Think back to the most recent bad day you had, whether at work, at home or all around. Perhaps it started with spilling coffee on your white shirt, missing your car keys as you are about to run out the door, or unexpected traffic that caused you to be late. Or was it a rude client, an irritated co-worker, or a letter of resignation from a key employee?

Maybe it was a boss who did not live up to what he has promised, a potential great business deal breaking apart, or having to stay at the office late and cancel your dinner plans. No matter what the answer—and perhaps your version of a bad day had it all—consider this question. What did you do that made your day more difficult?

Allow me to clarify. I do not suggest that you were the only creative force behind that perfect storm of all things awful. You are not in control of everything around you, even when you are held accountable for some of it. In fact, you are only in control of one thing: yourself. So, leaving the rest of the circumstances and their creators aside, what did you do that made the day more difficult?

Did you skip lunch, which meant that you did not have enough blood sugar to fuel your willpower, your patience and your thinking? Did you continue to stare at the problem at hand for hours, even though your body was screaming for you to take a break, to stretch, to walk? Did you attempt to rigidly stick with your plan despite changing circumstances? Or did you try to do it all at the cost of your sanity and well-being?

Now that you have identified a thing or two in your control that contributed to your bad day, consider the next question. When it all goes to hell in a basket, what can you do to make it a little easier?

Sometimes the answer is so simple and small that it seems like it would never make a difference. Try it anyway. Take a breath. Relax those shoulders. Step away from the problem you have been staring at for hours and go for a walk. Eat something. Delegate or even outsource that stubborn task that is nagging at your soul and just won’t get finished.

Consider another way of getting where you want to go. In a difficult situation that pushes you to the limit of your physical ability, patience and willpower, commit to seeking ease no matter what.

Far from looking for a cheap shortcut or an easy way out, seeking ease is about pursuing steadiness and comfort. You may be putting a lot of power, force and will behind your efforts, but how constructive are they? As Doug Autenrieth put it in “Grow on Purpose: The Nine Disciplines of Sustainable Growth,” balancing your efforts is key to balancing your power. You can let this be easy, or you can make it hard. There are no bonus points for self-inflicted suffering.

So, where do you habitually force your way, and what would happen if you stopped?

In her professional lives across the United States, Natalia Autenrieth has audited Fortune 500 clients as part of a Big 4 team, built an accounting department as a controller of a large hospital, and served as a CPA consultant to municipalities. As part of the Autenrieth Advantage team, Natalia coaches high-achieving CPAs for sustainable growth, helping them build highly profitable careers, avoid burn-out, and have more fun! Natalia lives in Southern California with her husband Doug who is an author, an executive coach, and a kung fu teacher, and their son Mason. They share a home with Tasha the German Shepherd, who is highly trained and exceptionally well behaved, and Kaya the Abyssinian cat, who is a frequent candidate for a one-way ticket to Siberia. Read more about Natalia and her practice at www.AutenriethAdvantage.com.

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