Getting Shit Done is Hard.

Gertrude Highland

You know what else is hard?

Feeling like shit all the time.

Thanks, Nigel! Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo, embellished by me.

Having goals is hard enough. Actually achieving those goals? Walking the walk instead of talking the talk?

Much harder.

What if there are obstacles in your way? What if — for whatever reason — you feel like shit all the time?

It could be constant pain, paralysis, depression, persistent injuries, anxiety, illness, whatever. It might make you feel like you’re struggling uphill through molasses in January.

But the fact that you’re here on this page?

That means you want to get shit done.

Wanting is half the battle, I think.

It’s hard. It’s so hard, I know — and it never seems to get easier. But you’re here, and I’m so unbelievably proud of you. Truly, I am. Think of what this means!

You don’t want to leech off relatives and friends. You’re not satisfied with that.

You don’t want to depend on a significant other in order to survive.

You want to stand on your own two feet and do things for yourself. You want a reliable system that works, something that propels you forward no matter how terrible you feel on any given day. Something that quantifies results and spells it out: You Will Achieve X Result Today By Doing Y.

And why not? Why shouldn’t you be able to earn money and contribute to the economy? The will is there. You just need a way.

My mother always told me, “Gertrude, it’s great to marry rich. It’s better to be rich.”

My response. Source.

I don’t want to not earn money just because of my useless, broken body. Surely there are ways around this slight inconvenience.


Getting shit done isn’t just about making money. It’s about your mental welfare. Your self-esteem and sense of identity.

I always felt that what I did was part of who I was, but that’s not true. What I did just revealed aspects of who I was.

My jobs as an editor or writer or consultant or whatever don’t tell you anything about me. They don’t reveal anything about who I am or what I value. They do, however, reveal aspects of my personality. They tell you:

I’m finicky about details.

I think things through.

I persevorate.

I’m not bound by the rules of grammar, though I respect them.

I can relax — but only about certain things.

I’m punctual with deadlines and projects.

I have the ability to stick to a calendar and multitask.

I can delegate and work with others.

I prefer to work alone and unsupervised.

You find jobs that suit your skills. These are tangible skills that were translatable when I began to feel like shit all the time, irrevocably, for reasons beyond my control.

Sometimes the reasons for Feeling Like Shit are easily identified. The person in question is an alcoholic or meth head; there are other, deeper problems at the root. Sometimes the reason has nobody to blame: cancer. Multiple sclerosis. Huntington’s.

Sometimes it’s other people who can’t drive cars very well.

Having a job provides a sense of purpose. It allows you to communicate with people other than those you meet online, which — while I love online friends— is extremely important.

It means that, occasionally, you have to wear pants.


So is it a matter of just getting shit done, getting shit done in a certain manner, or changing your perception of how shit gets done?

Does the goal line need to change?

My goal line certainly did. Before my devastating injuries — before Feeling Like Shit — I measured success by the number of novels I wrote in a year, how much I traveled, how many sports I played. My body was a tanned, toned, youthful vessel just ripe to be ruined.

After the injuries, my definition of “success” inevitably shrank.

Why? Because being grievously injured changed my perspective. This is called hedonic adaptation. As writer Erik Brown stated:

This term coined by Shane Frederick and George Loewenstein refers to the human ability to adapt to various events eventually making them normal. Frederick and Loewenstein refer to instances where people who have become paralyzed have become accustomed to their new situation and consciously adapted.

The world becomes smaller because, by definition, it must.

These days, I aim for Three Important Things (TITs). I reach out and grab them with enthusiasm (and enthusiastic permission!).

I would grab these with my mouth. Source.

The Three Important Things can be large or small. Can I empty the dishwasher? Excellent. Some days, I can’t. Some days, the task must be divided even further: Can I empty the cups? The silverware?

Divide the task until it’s as small as necessary.

Take successes when you can, no matter how insignificant they feel. Then you can’t be disappointed! Each day, you’ll have always achieved something.

Write them down and physically check them off with a huge marker if necessary. Sometimes we need visual reinforcement of achievements. Put gold stickers on the refrigerator. Buy yourself a treat for X days of consistent TITs.

Did I make the bed? Check.

Was I able to shower? No? Hurts too much today? We’ll try that again tomorrow. Make sure to get some dry shampoo.

Physically able to sit at the computer? Good. Can you type? Such a good girl!

If I can type, I can make money. That’s part of what “getting shit done” means to me. The definition changes from day to day. It includes those Three Important Things. It includes my work obligations. It includes relationships with friends and family.

What does “getting shit done” mean to you?

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