It is time to ditch a pernicious late 20th-century idea – that you need to feel any way in particular about performing a task.
You have probably been told that you should build MAXIMUM MOTIVATION, or develop a WINNER’S MINDSET before attempting to do things… take out the garbage, sort through the bills, begin working, etc. All of these motivation pumping expectations… are simply false.
You don’t need to feel any particular way before taking action – you can even feel uncertain, depressed, or even not wanting to do something and still do it.
You might feel better in a state of heightened, drooling desire before you wash the windows, or walk the dog, or write a report but the overheads you have added to the tasks are ridiculous.
But furthermore, if you have established a habit of insisting you are “excited” before taking action – requiring strong intent before being purposive and output-orientated – you have done yourself a disservice.
It’s simple – if you are a parent or have tended an infant, you will know that the little buggers… sorry… little darlings… tend to scream and cry periodically in the night, and sometimes through the nights, and sometimes for a very long period of nights.
When the baby screams, does it matter to the baby how you are feeling? That you had a hard day at work? Are feeling underappreciated? Creatively unfulfilled? Haven’t had enough “me time” lately?
Does it matter… in the slightest… how you are feeling? The baby cannot comprehend; it merely suffers and cries. As a parent, it is your job to figure it out and deal with it.
Often several times in a night. If you have sorted yourself out, gotten over yourself, and gotten with the program that someone else has much greater needs that they cannot fulfill without you (and, hopefully, that you love them); then peace can be made and you just… get on with it… without the need for imagining yourself as a great hero, on a 120′ foot screen, fighting a great battle, and being a special person for doing what you are doing.
The need for special and significant motivation on each occasion of action is a sign that you have not sufficiently or deeply considered where you are going and what you are doing.
With a clear enough vision and plan, enough prep, and a mise en place arranged, the movement into action becomes simple, natural and without drama or need for additional overheads to be incurred.
The idea is to get your thoughts clear on where and how you’re going… and what’s at the end of that rainbow – that work becomes not merely effort but (dare I say it?) pleasurable. The key is to get on your own side and start proactively defending the better future you’ve planned.
Signs of slogging it out, or sliding into distraction games and narrative ‘Because land’ means your future isn’t yet good enough for you to defend. You haven’t gone deeply enough into the benefits and consequences and hooked them into many other goals and possibilities.
The other possibility is that your workflow is not functional enough and it needs significant tuning-up. A well-tuned workflow means your output flows at a consistent rate, and the process has become a habit so that no matter how you feel; you can still “go with the (work)flow”.
This doesn’t mean that you work yourself to death or don’t take breaks, or you don’t stop and go to your healthcare provider when you feel ill. What it means is that how you feel stops being the deciding factor of whether you work or not, and what sort of quantity and quality you produce.
Your reactive emotions no longer control or determine the decision-making process.
This happens through habituation. On the accompanying audio, I know a writer who worked through chemo and radiotherapy despite feeling like death, warmed over. It wasn’t “bravery” or “fighting the disease” or any such nonsense.
It was pure professional habituation. He wrote because writing is what he does, and he had ingrained the skills and habits so he didn’t have to think about them.
You see, the other “number that’s been played on our heads” is that our emotions control us. They don’t. They are reactive processes, requiring triggers and support, as well as enculturated “proper” ways of behaving in those emotional conditions, which we are taught.
This is a deeper matter for perhaps another time and I have complete sympathy and empathy for all who suffer. I make no judgment and I believe their suffering is real and “worthy”.
But in my life I have now seen several hundred examples of things that would take me out of the game completely, being worked through while a person dealt with a huge range of circumstances, with a range of emotional and psychological issues of various kinds.
Their ability to continue depended on previous habituation to productive workflows.In other words, their habits saved their lives, while they got better. I have seen enough counter-examples to the mainstream image of emotional “disorder” to question their paradigm.
And those are extreme cases. Most people with “issues” are taken out by boredom, doubt, or discomfort – “first world”, luxury “maladies” that no one in a third world country gets close to. They get “the real thing”.
We get that we fear we won’t have what others have; that we are afraid of looking stupid or embarrassing ourselves by “failing” or not being “perfect”; that Mommy or Daddy didn’t say enough nice things to us, about us; that it might take too much effort to get what we want; that we don’t look like celebrities; that we don’t feel comfortable while learning new things (because the process of learning requires the brain going into the “not knowing” state, which triggers the senses and pattern detectors to go on alert… we call it “learning”… but some have learned to “panic” instead).
It’s about crafting a workflow, refining it, devoting yourself to it so that it frees you utterly from concern about effort, or results.
Which projects or tasks are you hiding from? What’s the deal?
How do you need to upgrade and tighten your workflow so it is resilient and strong?
Choose a limitation, project or task that has seemed daunting… take it to your workflow, and work it over… until the limitation gives in.