If you’re not doing it, stop


I like to think about ways to get myself people to accomplish things and not just say that I’m they are “going to, someday”. I’m fascinated by what it is inside ourselves that causes us to self-sabotage. (The book “The War of Art” is probably the most poetic discussion of such a thorny topic, and while I will make no attempt to better that book here, I want to discuss a related scenario.)

To not do

We’ve all been there: you’ve got some work that you want to do, some project that’s on your mind, and you’re struggling. Say it’s a business that you’ve been trying to build up. You’ve had “Contact [helpful person]” and “Post ads for your services” at the top of your to-do list for a long time, and yet you always seem to get to other things on the list that are farther down.

It doesn’t have to be business or money related, either. “Call [friend] and apologize” or “sign up for dance classes” are all equally valid.

The point is, you haven’t been doing it. You’re still not doing it. Whatever it is. Let’s call this particular thing the Roadblock. Always there, but not moving. And it’s slowly killing you over time.

If it’s been there for a long time, I want you give yourself a pass. I want you to stop trying for now.

It’s not heresy, it’s being sneaky

Faithful readers of this site may see a contradiction her. Why, this is the site for Ex-Velleitiers! A place for people who once were riddled with inaction, and now are taking charge of their lives! Have I gone soft?

Of course not. I want for everyone to make all their dreams come true today. I want lots of things, but we can’t jump to the end of the book when we’re in the middle. Continuing to push forward when no progress is begin made isn’t always the most useful course of action. Try something else.

I’m asking you to realize and accept that the Roadblock isn’t going to be moved right now, and stop trying. The reasoning is thus: It’s incredibly enervating to get stuck in the rut where you say you “need” to make progress on something, and yet you lack the drive, desire, or confidence to make it happen. I wish you had it, but you may not at the moment.

Instead, take a step back. Stop. Forgive. Work on something else. Say to yourself:

“I know that I have this particular Roadblock in front of me. And while there is part of me that wants to push past it, I know that I do not right now possess the right combination of skills and motivation to make that happen. So I’m going to accept the Roadblock here for now.”

The reason why I want you to do this is because it will give you a chance to recharge. There is not much difference between willingly not attempting to do something and wanting to do something but being able to make it happen. The difference: one takes little effort, and one is draining as hell.

But notice the uses of “for now” and “right now.” Because you’re not off the hook here. The whole point of stepping back is to give you just the energy you need to move past the Roadblock. Hit the Snooze button, for a week or a month or whenever.

There is no glory in beating yourself up for not doing something, and then continuing to not do it. Try something different. Try giving yourself a pass. For now. Then later, when you feel more ready, come back to the Roadblock, and demolish it.

But enough about me. What is your particular Roadblock?

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