That’s the work.

What my yoga instructor taught me about achieving big goals.

2 min readFeb 20, 2023

On Saturdays I take a very hot yoga class with a straight-out-of-central-casting yoga teacher named Bernie. She’s taught me an important concept about “the work.”

She’ll often say something like “if you’re holding your foot, you’re trying to extend it. That’s the work. And if instead you are holding your knee, you’re trying to keep the standing leg very straight. That’s the work.”

I love the idea that no matter where you find yourself in a project or task, there is work to be done. Plenty, no matter where you are. And the work is all valuable.

I chose one goal this year, and 3 OKRs. My goal is to be on time. My OKRs this year are:

  1. Build a strong company at Alpaca.
  2. Run my best marathon at Boston.
  3. Develop a writing practice.

And there is some work to be done.

On the goal of being on time, I’ve realized that my starting point was about 1000 miles behind where I thought it was. The first part of the year taught me that bad habits run deep, and that being on time isn’t about what I thought it was. I thought I’d just start setting alarms and I’d suddenly make this happen, but actually, fixing the underlying reasons for being late takes more intention and more effort than I expected. Knowing what’s making me late and how to own it and fix it: that’s the work.

On building a strong company, it’s about focus. Saying no in order to say yes. Simplifying the model, and pushing our team to do the same. In our first year as a company, we did tons of things that don’t scale. We did them on purpose and I’m glad we did. But now it’s time to focus on the work that’s working, and be disciplined in making the number, building the product, and scaling the effort. That’s the work.

On the marathon, it’s about planning. When faced with an injury that was getting worse and not better, I had to seek help and make a plan. This required questioning whether I really wanted to do the work to run Boston, and I did. And because I made a plan, focused on the recovery, and stuck with it, I’m moving in the right direction. Now, it’s mileage and strength, strength and mileage. That’s the work.

On the writing practice, it’s all about consistency. The earlier I write, the better day I have. So reworking my day (which typically extends to reworking my bedtime) to allow for both running and writing before I get to the office? That’s the work.

Every effort worth doing offers the opportunity to find the work, wherever you are in that effort, right now.




Founder and CEO of Alpaca. Goals Nerd, Spreadsheet Enthusiast, and Runner.