Buckle Down, It's Time To Do The Hard Work You're Avoiding
Are you seeking out distractions to prevent yourself from having to do the hard work necessary to move forward on an idea, project, decision or business? Has the excitement and novelty worn out and now you're facing the difficult reality of what it takes to continue moving forward?
When we're face to face with the clarity that hard work is necessary to move forward and make progress, we can subconsciously hope a distraction finds a way, our way. Please, let anything come up so I don't have to do the hard task in front of me, we think. And the type of distraction we love in this state is someone or something that will do the hard work for us. Oswald Chambers says it well.
"Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine." - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
Ouch. This blogging challenge has definitely been a test of drudgery for me. While it was exciting, to begin with, and rewarding throughout, I'm almost ninety percent complete and the last leg of any race is usually the hardest. Not only am I blogging each weekday, but my November has piled up with existing and new client projects. With a week of Thanksgiving traveling coming up, I've got to accomplish more in less time. Staying focused, clear of mind, and avoiding distractions have become more challenging as my freelancing work, this blogging challenge, and life has grown in scope over the course of the year.
How Does A Life Of Mediocrity Sound To You?
I remember when I first heard Jim Collins speak at Catalyst during the years I owned and operating a marketing company. Mediocrity is the sign of chronic inconsistency is the comment he made that would hit me like a baseball bat. I would start things and the passion and excitement that came with the novel would carry me forward. But, when that fuel was gone, I struggled to make progress. I wanted distractions in these moments to give me something new to do. Instead of buckling down, I sought a silver bullet software, fix, or person that would show up and move me forward without the necessary hard work. We want this person or thing to do it for us while we retain the benefits of that progress.
In the Island Story, I call this the Visionary Stage and a jaded visionary is the Turtle. They want (possibly subconsciously) other people to carry them and ironically enough, they also carry other people's burdens, especially ones where the other person should be carrying themselves. What they expect and what they do are crisscrossed in different aspects of their life. It'd be like a parent who should direct their kid to clean up after themselves, but instead does it for them. But they expect their spouse to clean up after them when they should do it for themselves. Or, it's like a spouse who is super amazing for several weeks serving his family, cleaning, but going so hard he or she burns themselves out and falls back into their old unhealthy habits. Yeah, visionaries are going so hard, so fast, in so many directions they tangle everything all up. When they stay in this tangled state they get stuck and become jaded towards others.
The same dynamic plays out with people in the workplace. Business owners can earn more money and hire more people. They think hiring more people will solve their problems and alleviate the burden. But when they hire in this state, it only gets harder since they can't manage themselves well. If your struggling because you "have to" do more than is sustainable and you start hiring people, there is a high likelihood hiring these people is only going to make your burden heavier and lead to bigger issues.
For those who are not business owners, they'll start new projects and excitedly push them all forward. But, it's hard to do so many things at once well. So, they end up burned out and abandoning these projects and initiatives. Their many visions are all left on the battlefield as broken promises. Maybe instead of going faster, the answer is going slower?
The story of the tortoise and the hare is a good metaphor for this dynamic. The hare runs ahead and almost finishes the race, but falls asleep only to wake up behind and doing everything it can to catch up and win. Unfortunately, it's too late. The slow and steady well-paced and sustainable tortoise wins. While running the race as a hare has benefits, it can't last for the long run.
Are You Finally Sick Of This Cycle?
It's not until we realize there is no path or answer to hard menial work over time other than to do it, that we begin to change. After living and working this way for an extended season, I was finally tired of this rat race hamster wheel. I wanted to make progress, not just go in circles.
So I buckled down, surveyed the horizon and decided on what were the most important things I need to accomplish every week. These were my twenty-mile marches that I was fully committed to. I also tapped into a habit building software to help me stay on track and accountable. And lastly, I established a community around me to encourage me forward.
So, there you have it. Three steps to help you leave this cycle of craziness we all find ourselves in.
- Decide and commit to your twenty-mile march - No matter what comes up, you make sure these get done.
- Find and use a habit accountability tool - We need to foster rewards and consequences to keep moving forward.
- Build an encouraging community around you - We can't do this alone, we need other people to help us.
When we act on these steps and push through to the other side where we consistently act, even when we don't feel like it, it is deeply satisfying. But, we can't truly take these steps until we've taken ownership and responsibility for our lives, and our success. We've got to stop expecting this progress without the hard work over time and instead embrace it. True success won't happen until you do.
Photo by S on Unsplash
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