Morale is when your hands and feet keep on working when your head says it can’t be done.~ Ben Morcell
Morale is when your hands and feet keep on working when your head says it can’t be done.~ Ben Morcell
The more fun your work, the less likely it is to set off these triggers. You won’t struggle to focus—tasks will attract your attention because they’ll be far less tedious, frustrating, challenging, and so on. There are a lot of strategies for overcoming procrastination. But making a project more fun disables a bunch of procrastination triggers at once, while also making your work more enjoyable. It’s a great strategy.~ Chris Bailey from, https://chrisbailey.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating-by-making-your-work-more-fun/
Great little article from Bailey with great points about the really common things that trigger procrastination, and some ideas on how to beat each one. What’s been working for me for a while is something inspired by Yoda’s comment that, “named your fear must be, before banish it you can.” I can tell when I’m procrastinating; perhaps not always, but definitely often. At the point of realization, I play the name–game: “Craig, what exactly is it that you don’t want to do?” Then like the school guidance counselor always trying to talk me out of sabotaging myself into detention, “Are you sure that’s the thing? Be specific.” Upon realizing I’m still in their office, “I don’t think you’re as sure as you think you are. Can you explain it to me like I’m 5 years old?” Until eventually, it’s so blinding clear what I need to do (or skip, or change, or screw up 3 minutes of courage, or whatever) that I just freaking stomp that procrastination.
Sanderson argues you should instead experiment to figure out what combination of motivation, and circumstances, and accountability work best for your particular personality. He responds well to tracking a daily word count in a spreadsheet. Others, he notes, thrive under the social pressures of a writing group, while others lean on deadlines to induce work. The key is recognizing that the urge to avoid hard things is human, and should be expected. It’s part of the process.~ Cal Newport from, https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2022/02/25/brandon-sandersons-advice-for-doing-hard-things/
I’m filing this under “things I wish I had learned 30 years ago”. Some things I really track, and some things I just do whenever I feel like. One way or another though, it’s important that I be honest with myself. “Do I really want to do this?” …or do I just like the idea of being able to say “I did that”?
Stop searching for magic tricks. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. The fool will find this idea depressing. The wise person will find this liberating. So it goes.~ Hugh Macleod
Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process. The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home. A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. It is literally that simple. Nothing interferes. Nothing can sway you from your purpose. Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise.~ Christopher Sommer
For me the pattern is now perfectly clear: the later I come at the task, the more time I’ll spend dancing around it before beginning in earnest. If I can make contact at an earlier hour, the urge to dance away from it is diminished, because I only have so many dance moves, and I’ll run out long before lunchtime.~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2021/12/9-things-i-learned-about-productivity-this-year/
About once per year I trot out a, HOLY CRAP!
This entire article is jammed full of insights, only one of which did I quote above. I’d say that I have learned those same things. But absolutely I have not learned them in a single year. Where’s my time machine? I need to get this to my 16-year-old self.
Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.~ Hugh MacLeod
Don’t try to find your passion. Instead master some skill, interest, or knowledge that others find valuable. It almost doesn’t matter what it is at the start. You don’t have to love it, you just have to be the best at it. Once you master it, you’ll be rewarded with new opportunities that will allow you to move away from tasks you dislike and toward those that you enjoy. If you continue to optimize your mastery, you’ll eventually arrive at your passion.~ Kevin Kelly
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.~ Jim Rohn
The simple willingness to improvise is more vital, in the long run, than research.~ Rolf Potts
Starting on January 3rd, 2022, I’m hosting an accountability session.
It’s free. There are no tricks, no gimmicks, and there’s no “upsell” at the end. It’s simply an opportunity to synchronize with others who want to make progress toward some goal of their own choosing.
This session is for kind and generous people who want to get something, (something of their own choosing,) done. But, who feel they need some others to kindly and gently hold them accountable to doing the work. In the session, you’ll be part of a group of people working together.
About a month ago, I was lamenting the loss of some of my Movement mojo. After some soul-searching, we started with a simple change: Rather than waiting for movement to happen as a part of our day, we began asking a simple question, every day:
“What are we doing tomorrow?”
For fun, we set this chalkboard-wall up to encourage activity and to let us savor the decreasing number of days to American Rendezvous, a Parkour event held in Somerville, just across the Charles River from Boston.
The tendency to put off difficult tasks that we don’t want to face is almost universal.
And it turns out, the moment of starting a task is often so much harder than actually doing the task.~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/starting-task/
Tom Petty’s lyrics not withstanding, I agree with Leo. Starting is definitely the hardest part. Unfortunately, I don’t understand why it is so difficult for me.
Take this blog post. It’s 9pm. I go to sleep at 9:30. (Why, is an entirely different story, see, Sleep.) I’ve a long drive tomorrow, and I’ve a few things left to stuff in my overnight bag. I’ve waited all day to do this small task. Writing these blog posts is straightforward; I have a well-oiled process for dropping into the right mindset and dipping into a fertile sea of cached ideas to find one to inspire. Invariably, a few minutes into the process, I’ve found an interesting thread to pull on. This is so much fun, I could—quite literally—do this all day. So why then do I wait until 9pm?
Because you see, it’s not just writing this blog post. I feel all the things on my to-do lists—both literal and in my head—are like writing this blog post: Straightforward, self-chosen, in line with my priorities and goals, inherently interesting, generally worth doing, immediately rewarding in most cases. And yet, the proverbial 9pm rolls around before I feel enough pressure to start.
The only thing I can think of is that some part of my mind just knows that the list will never be done. No matter how many times the “let’s get stuff done” part of my brain were to rise to the occasion, there’s some other part of my brain that will roll Sisyphus’s rock back to the bottom. Maybe this is all there is to it? Is the problem, not the “doer” side, but the “setter upper of things to do” side? Is the problem that I don’t know how to simply be?
Have I, perhaps, only learned instead how to be a human doing?
Motivation will get you out the door, but it fades over time. A good book or podcast might give you the momentary impulse to take your first steps along a path, but when the road gets tough only discipline will keep you moving forward.~ Dan Edwardes from, https://danedwardes.com/2020/11/17/motivation-is-temporary/
Edwardes is a well-known figure in the world of Parkour. He’s someone I’m proud to call a friend. A little over a year ago, I had a quiet, private, late-evening conversation about businesses and movement and Parkour and I’m pretty sure we touched on motivation. …or at least, I know motivation was something bouncing around in my head. Specifically: lack thereof. I’m not even sure that I realized that at the time, but it’s clear to me now.
At the time though, I definitely experienced a sort of ground-shifting sensation. I don’t generally fan-boy on Parkour people, and I’m pretty sure I never did that with respect to Edwardes. No, it was more like—something I’ve experienced on several occasions with Parkour luminaries—I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t been fawning [for years] over this person. No, here I was, once again, in a cool conversation with a fellow human. Being.
These days, I’m doubling-down on discipline and that quoted blog post and that conversation conspired to inspire me to make a fresh post.
Anyway. Dan Edwardes is someone you should hear of, and now you have. Check out his blog, or the best—call me biased—podcast interview of him, Dan Edwardes: Motivation, efficacy, and storytelling.
Oh— and no, that linked podcast is not the conversation I mentioned up top.
I only wish for more hours in the day and a clone to do adulting chores while I enjoy [insert speaker’s preferences here] without interruption.
Who hasn’t expressed such a sentiment at one time or another? I certainly have, and it’s a pleasant diversion to imagine being unloaded of all the small stuff that seems to weigh me down. There’s plenty that can be said—and which I and others have already said—about the importance of the smaller things and “adulting chores”. But today I’m going in a different direction.
When that sentiment comes to mind, I use it as a thought experiment: If I had a clone, that would then obviously be me. It would be literally this same me that I am today. This same me, who doesn’t want to do those small things and adulting-chores. How do I expect to be able to convince the clone to do all the stuff I don’t want to do? If I could convince the clone, I’d be able to convince myself. So I set about thinking about how to convince the clone.
Because then I’d be happy to get that stuff done, wouldn’t I?
There are internet companies (like Basecamp, or like Automattic, makers of WordPress.com, where I work) that charge money for their products and services, and use that money to grow their business. I wish more internet companies could follow that model, but it’s hard to retrofit a legitimate business model to a product that started its life as free.~ Jeffrey Zeldman from, https://alistapart.com/article/nothing-fails-like-success/
ahahahahahahahahhahaahahhaaa! Sometimes I like to share stuff just because it makes me happy. (The stuff; not the sharing of said stuff, I mean.) I regularly talk about how this web site is a vehicle for my reflection—I’m quite often literally thinking through things. Writing, (tappity-tap-tapping on the keyboard here,) and writing, (scratchity-scritch-skratching with a pen on paper,) are two of the ways I figure out if the dross I regularly find in my head actually corresponds to reality.
When I read sentences like the ones I quoted above, I leap (sometimes literally) to my feet knocking over my chair in the process. It does my weary—deeply deeply weary it be—heart good just to read sentences like this. And I hope—not in the sense that I little value your ability to think and “hope” you’ll finally get what I’m saying; no. I only hope that sometimes, some of the things I share make you happier.
Nobody cares. Do it yourself.~ Hugh MacLeod
To win the lotto, you need a miracle. To be successful, you need hard work. More people are playin’ the lotto than working hard.~ Eric Thomas
Somehow these less-than-ideal conditions raised his game, spurred him on to greatness. There’s a definite lesson here. Fair winds do not a great captain make. We dream of finding our own greatness one day, but we want it to happen when the sun is shining.~ Hugh Macleod
One—particularly one named “Craig”—can also veer too far in the other direction. Continuously choosing the most arduous path towards each goal is exhausting.
Random weather metaphor for life: (Weather geeks: This is written for the Northern Hemisphere.) Large storms rotate. They always rotate in the same direction. Have you seen a stop-motion video made from satellite photos of a hurricane? If you are standing on the shore, facing an oncoming storm, you can try to avoid it by fleeing to your left, or to your right. (Presuming you ignored the warning yesterday to simply go inland.) If the center is coming directly towards you, and you have a car and just a few minutes… which way do you flee? Left, or right? To the left, the motion of the entire storm, coming at you, adds to the winds of the rotating storm. To the right, the motion of the storm, subtracts from the winds of the rotating storm. A storm with 100mph winds, coming at you at 30mph… Flee left and you get 130mph winds. Flee right and you get 70mph winds.
Seems to me that’s a good metaphor for life. “Oh shit, here comes a storm.” Maybe I should consider which way to go, rather than just fleeing like a rabbit in whatever direction I happen to be facing.
Hey also, while I’m doing weather: The Saffir-Simpson Scale has only 5 categories for a reason. It’s designed to be easy to understand when you hear the number. I sometimes hear talk that we should add a Category 6. Nononono. Category 5 already means, literally, that you should evacuate because nothing survives the 250kmh/160mph sustained winds of a Category 5 storm. So, what would having a Category 6 add? “srsly bro’, flee!”
We’ve created this fantasy world where everyone is just 30 days of courage boosting exercises and life hacks away from living an amazing life.
But when you study people like Martin, who really do live remarkable lives, you almost always encounter stretches of years and years dedicated to honing craft.
This is the eternal challenge of seeing the forest through the trees; of maintaining perspective.
I’m constantly reminded of the scenes in the Hobbit where they are trying to walk through 250 miles of a forest named, Mirkwood. “Do not leave the path,” is the only guidance they are given. After what seems like endless daily struggles, they eventually dispatch a party member to climb a singularly large tree to the uppermost branches. Unfortunately, even from that lofty perch all that could be seen was more forest forever and ever in every direction. In fact, they were in a low lying area, reasonably close to the forest edge. Crushed by the misleading perspective, their journey takes a turn for the worse.
I have so many projects where I start into the forest with the best intentions. I steel myself with, “I know this is going to turn into a slog at some point, and I’m going to remember why I went into the forest to give me the strength to carry on!” Yeah, that never works out. If the project is actually worth doing, then the forest is necessarily crushingly vast and the journey through must eventually become hopeless. Of course it’s hard; that’s what makes it worth it.
The secret? You have to love living in the forest, just for the sake of living in the forest. Then every morning is an adventure. Sure, some days are going to suck, but every morning will begin a new day of opportunity.