You Are Your Worst Enemy
There’s a problem with working at a firm of incredibly talented and dedicated individuals. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful. But some days, if you don’t watch it, you’ll be left feeling empty rather than inspired.
If you’re in a career that keeps you on your toes (always), maybe you’ve experienced this phenomenon.
This week has been one of disappointment and frustration. There’s been no insanity at work, no reason to be unhappy in my personal life… Except for the one thing which has left me feeling pissed off, lazy, and inadequate. It’s affected my moods, my positivity, and my ability to focus. It’s this —
I’m a writer who “doesn’t have time to write.”
Over the past few weeks, if anyone’s asked me what I’m writing, I have an outer body experience of hearing myself come up with an excuse. ‘Well I’ve been spending more time doing this,’ or ‘It’s hard to wake up earlier, you know?’
I’m here to step in and say to myself, and anyone else who may be listening, “No one cares to hear your excuses.”
What I’ve come to realize is, no copout I give myself will make me feel better later on. I have to sit down, stare at a wall if that’s what it takes, and put words to paper. Just do it, for goodness sake. (Thanks, Nike.)
As a creative, variety-seeking human, I know that a great part of my fulfillment comes from challenging myself. So why don’t I make time to, well… challenge myself?
It doesn’t make sense. I know what’s enriching and satisfying, and yet, I don’t make the time to do it.
It seems deep down, I’ve got this ethereal idea of a sponge that gradually becomes more full and intelligent, simply by absorbing everything there is.
It’s important to read things, watch things — tons of things, yes. But more than anything, you need to do something. In my case, it’s writing more.
Before I continue, you should know that this isn’t a post on 10 steps to be a better writer, or 5 ways to be more consistent in the mornings. That’s not why I’m here. If anything, in my recent-graduate state, I rebel inwardly at the idea of forced consistency, too much structure, or “process.”
Maybe though, this will allow you to see that you are your own worst enemy, not the lack of time in your day.
*I’m speaking directly to me, Lindsey, so know that if my tone cuts.
Producing great work is not about a skill set, but what’s going on in that brain of yours. I’ve come up with some things to keep in mind next time you try to pull a fast one, and come up with an excuse for yourself.
Some is better than none.
I’ve tried, and failed, several times at going from zero to sixty. ‘Okay, I’m gonna write for 2 hours before work, every day this week.’ It doesn’t happen, so I stomp around, and quit altogether. ‘Screw it, I’m done.’
Attempting to go from zero to sixty in a minute is the worst thing you can do to yourself. This is what happens when we don’t take the time to set realistic expectations. Start with one day a week, and you’ve already written more than you had previously. Or just the same, try 30 minutes a day instead of 2 hours, and you’ll be amazed what you can do.
Surround yourself with those who are producing, tons.
There’s nothing to motivate like friends or coworkers who seem to live and breath their craft. They somehow miraculously find time to do all the things you wish you were doing. Some call it guilt, I call it motivation.
Ask them hold you accountable.
Take it a step further and ask them how they do it. There’s obviously a trick you don’t know about. Casual or formal, ask them to drop in once in a while. After a several times of telling someone you haven’t written (or painted, or recorded, or run), it starts to get old.
Stop saying you’re busy.
This is not a valid excuse, unless you have children under the age of 5, or you’re in school, and are simultaneously working 5 jobs, in which case it may be a valid excuse. You get to decide, but you’ve got to carry that with you from now on. (No pressure or anything.)
Simply enough, you’ll make time for the things you want to do. If mastering, or even improving your craft, is important to you, you’ve got to make time for it. And chances are, it needs to happen outside the office.
Even if you grow by leaps and bounds amidst your team members, you have to give yourself the chance to experience complete solitude and focus. No distractions.
This is self- explanatory. Stop wasting your breath. It’s better to be honest with yourself and those around you. Mild complaints about needing more hours in the day also count as whining.
If you don’t have kids (once again, directed at me, Lindsey, since that’s several years off), you will never have more time than you do right now. You’ll only have less time from here, which is the precise reason you shouldn’t talk about “not having time.”
Passion motivates, but so does frustration.
Despite the positive implications, I hate the word “passion.” To me, it implies a fiery gazing after something, plus a lack of followthrough. If you’re looking for an emotion that spurs action, try frustration.
If you haven’t been supremely frustrated, it means you haven’t attempted this for long enough… So keep going.
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for frustration. Sometimes you need a dose of violently falling on your face to get you moving again.
Learn to find the light in yourself.
Take that frustration, and channel it for good. Ferocity at not succeeding just means you care, and you’ve got spunk.
Maybe frustration is what allowed those miraculous friends or coworkers of yours to hit a home run. Maybe that’s how they’re still hitting home runs. I guarantee it’s not because they mildly wanted to get better, or thought practicing more would be fun. They’ve got something to prove. And because of that, we all get to take in the splendor of what they’re producing.
Now you’ve figured out their (maybe) secret, so apply it to yourself. None of this is possible, unless you want this for yourself more than anything.
Other people wanting it for you doesn’t matter.
You’re the one who’s got to put in the time, the sweat, it takes to carry that heavy torch. By now though, hopefully you realize you’re willing to do it. You want to do it. Protecting the light from that torch is part of who you are.
It’s your light, and no one can take it from you.
Embrace the challenge.
You’re ready to riot. But remember, riots don’t happen over night. Even something as rebellious and beautiful as a riot takes planning. Zeal? Yes. But followthrough? Non-negotiable.
“There is always a gap between want I want to say or do or make and what I can actually pull off. That’s not a bad thing: that gap is what pulls me forward. That longing and hunger makes me keep trying to do it better. At the same time, I’m tremendously content. It’s a paradox: in striving for what I haven’t yet achieved, as long as I’m living in the present and my happiness doesn’t depend on achieving something, it’s the striving that keeps me content.” — David duChemin, TGD
You know what to do.