I Don’t Care If You Feel like It, and I Don’t Care If You Don’t
A big perk of my lifestyle is that when I feel like doing something, I can usually just do it.
I’m not talking about helicopter rides over Hawaii (yet), but you know, modest, day-to-day stuff.
If I feel like reading for two hours before getting out of bed, I do. If I want to take some random days off to isolate in the mountains, I do. If I want to have a glass of wine at three in the afternoon, I do.
But inserting this mojo in my work life often means that wait until I feel like it to do just about anything.
This morning I awoke wanting to write. Given the many superstitions on how the muse works, I thought, “Okay, well, I better start writing because I don’t know when the urge will strike again.”
While there’s some seize-the-day in there, it’s mostly just lack of discipline. If I only write when I feel like it, what about the times when I don’t? How am I training myself here?
I’m usually able to direct my own schedule (which is rad), but there will always be times when I have to do things I don’t feel like doing. That’s life.
(Though if you’ve figured out a workaround, please spill the beans.)
Physics and Feeling Like It
If you often think, “Do this because you feel like it,” it’s important to spend a proportionate amount of time thinking, “Do this because you don’t feel like it.”
I’m not one for self-torture (arguably), but I am one for balance. The universe is always trying to balance stuff. Male-female, hot-cold, happy-sad, taco-spaghetti.
Have you ever noticed that when you have a stretch of really great days, they’re usually followed by a bunch of not-so-great days, or maybe one super-terrible day?
Balance, y’all. Action, reaction—it’s physics.
I don’t know if it’s better to skew toward stickler or libertine, but I do know that balance is generally better than teetering in asymmetry.
And I’m not saying you should stop doing what you want most of the time. I think that’s a great idea.
But pay attention to how often you’re doing what you don’t want, too, because discipline is a muscle. It can grow, and it can atrophy.
“It isn’t that you wake up one day and decide, that’s it: I’m going to be weak. No. It’s a slow incremental process. It chips at your will – It chips at your discipline.”
– Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom
The Discipline Balance Board
Look, don’t be dramatic here—it’s not about vacillating between extremes, but staying where a nudge won’t topple you over. Ever been on a balance board? It’s like that.
Say you spend a day getting work done, but casually. Maybe you throw in lunch with a friend, an Instagram binge (or three), two hours cooking/eating dinner, and a movie before bed.
Pretty leisurely, right? You accomplished things, but also did a fair bit of whatever.
This doesn’t mean a full day of whip-cracking needs to follow. Chill. Just go to a workout class you’ve been dreading. Clean your room, for god’s sake. Finally fix that leaky sink. That should get things balanced. It’s about propotion.
Ultimately, find what feels right for you. You know if you’re being too lax with yourself, just like you know if you’re being too hard.
If you feel clueless, remember: What gets measured gets done.
Are you living the unobserved life? Pay attention—mindfully—to your actions.
For example, I rarely feel like I’ve worked hard enough, which leads to rather unenjoyable amount of self-flagellation. Beat the punishment monster by writing down the day’s worklog. Punishment monster can’t fight facts.
Suspect you spend too much time lollygagging? Observe your actions. Keep a paper with “Fancy-Free” on one side and “Action” on the other (use whatever words you want, but you get 10 points for “fancy-free”). As you do things throughout the day, make tick marks on either side to give yourself an idea of how you actually spend/waste time.
It’s okay to say “I don’t feel like it” and then not do it. Especially if you’re saying that every day about the same damn thing. Switch things up, quit that job, leave that lover—I implore you.
But don’t get flabby. Don’t lose your edge. Complacency is a beast when you’re doing something you hate and when you’re doing something you love.
“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.”
– Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom
Feel like doing the things you do. Just not all the time.
Your thoughts? I’d love to hear ’em below…Oh, and get an email when I post something new.