How many times do we tell ourselves in a week that we don’t feel like it?
If we agree with this point of view, we sabotage our ability to do the work we know we must do. For me, that work is writing. Most days, I wake up and don’t feel like writing.
I tell myself lies such as these:
- “You’ve done enough this week”
- “You’re too tired”
- “No one will notice if you don’t work today”
- “You won’t do your best work today”
That last point is a killer. The fantasy that our best work is done in these magical periods of time that can only be cultivated once in a blue moon, harms our ability to do work.
I went back and looked over the articles that I have published online that have gone on to be shared by millions of people. More than half of them, dare I say the majority of them, were published when I didn’t feel like it.
Not feeling like it today is the best luck you can come across. Why?
When you don’t feel like it, you just do the work and forget about the results, or the way the audience will perceive it or how it makes you feel. As a writer, the best thing you can ever feel is like you don’t want to write today.
In those moments when you don’t feel like it, if you can show up anyway instead of handing in a note of absence, you’ll do some of the best damn work you’ve ever done.
It’s what you do first that matters. Sitting there and doing nothing is the best way to make a decision to do no work.
Train yourself to take a small step when you don’t feel like it. Write one sentence. Hammer that first nail. Run that first lap. Sing that first line.
The inertia of getting started when you don’t feel like it is enormous. Taking that first small step somehow seems to defy science and move that huge boulder of “can’t be fucked” out of your way.
Stop telling yourself that lie
Forget about how you feel when you do your work.
Many years ago, I trained myself to work while I had the flu. I would still stay home from work, but at home in bed, I’d do 30–60 minutes of work. This showed me that I can work in any condition.
When will you ever feel like it?
There’s always back pain or tiredness or the temperature (too hot or too cold) or noise to get in your way and make the environment to do your work less than ideal. There’s never a perfect time or environment and that imperfection adds a sprinkle of magic to whatever work you’re trying to get done.
Work that is imperfect is human and it’s created on days when you don’t feel like it.
There may be a bigger problem
If you find you are telling yourself on a regular basis that you don’t feel like it and as a result you don’t do your work, this could be a sign there is a bigger problem.
A few years back, I found myself in a slump. At the time, I was a music producer that made electronic music. Making music was a daily habit for me until I stopped. Around the same time, I was battling mental illness and this made me tell myself that I didn’t feel like it.
The excuse of not feeling like it took over and prevented me from writing a single song for a year. Shortly after, I gave up music and never felt like making music again.
What I now know is that there was a bigger problem.
My excuse for not feeling like it was hiding many issues. The truth was I was making music for the wrong reasons, intending on becoming famous and never helping a single human being in the process.
It wasn’t not feeling like it that destroyed my music career; it was a lack of meaning and purpose in the work I was doing.
Today is one of those days I don’t feel like it. Yet I still wrote this article because the last few years have made me realize just how important it is to keep showing up.
I could never have published thousands of articles on the internet, in a short space of time, if I let those days where I didn’t feel like it win.
Keep doing the work and enjoy the days when you don’t feel like it. Treat those days like a day off where you can do whatever the hell you want without worrying about whether the work is good or bad.
You will find that the work you do on the days you don’t feel like it is the most rewarding if you do it enough. Keep going.