Byproducts Not Prerequisites

I haven't felt much like writing lately, which you may have noticed. You know, since I haven't written anything here, or anywhere else for that matter, in a long time. Or maybe you haven't noticed, for pretty much the same reasons.

I've wanted to write (I was born wanting to write), because I love to write. I've thought about it. I've shoulded all over myself in attempts to inspire writing through bullying myself into it. I've definitely berated myself for not writing. Weirdly, the latter two methods haven't accomplished anything, apart from me feeling shitty about my unaccomplishing self.

Anytime I saw that Adam (or you know, anyone) had posted something on our blog, or even a couple of paragraphs on Facebook, I'd get angry. Pissy. Resentful. Extremely jealous and insecure. Screw you for doing the thing that is my thing. How dare you be able to do the thing I can't seem to get it together and do! (It's easier to get angry over there than it is to face my own crap and ask the questions I need to ask myself to get my wayward train back on its tracks. Sound familiar?)

This clip effectively sums up both the voices in my head (yes, both sides) and the external physical result of my writer's block: 

Pretty much. Thoughts of writing = lay on floor in apparent paralysis.

Yeah. I've been wanting to write for months. Not one-offs, but regularly. You know, on account of how I love to write. But I've been blocked. Any thought I've had of writing has stopped there ("there" being wherever was not a keyboard). Any keen insight or inspiration — and there have been OODLES, my friends — have been jotted into my idea book, and then left there to wilt and wonder when I'd breathe it into life. In fact, this very post is one of those notes. 

"Oh hi there, Idea! I'd love to write about you and share you with the world!"

"JUST KIDDING! I'm going to lie on the floor instead."

My clients (and all humans, I'd assert) feel the same way about their projects. The dreams and ideas they have for their life get put on hold for a myriad of very reasonable reasons. They have plans and projects and spreadsheets of goals and milestones and actions to get them there. But they don't happen, because REASONS. AKA excuses.

What I hear most frequently from my clients (and yes, also me, but whatever; I'm creating a larger sample size here), is that they don't feel like it. They want to feel like doing the thing, whatever "the thing" is, but they just do not have the required feelings to achieve the doing of it. The feelings that are most commonly reported as MIA seem to be, in no particular order: excitement, enthusiasm, passion, desire or energy.

Well, I've done a significant amount of primary and empirical research on this topic, and here's the thing: The feelings that we think are necessary in order to undertake the actions that will, in turn, create the results that we wish to generate, are byproducts, not prerequisites.

Your life is not a first-year college course. Stop looking for feelings to be pre-reqs for creating your life. It doesn't work that way.

Yup, that's right. You're not going to feel like getting up an hour early to go for that run or hit the gym. Or turning on the computer to write a chapter-by-chapter outline of that book. Or even looking at your oh-so-organized project design to determine the next required action that would move your project forward. Or doing the practices you generated in service of applying that awareness-slash-insight you created about how you sabotage your relationship with love-money-adventure-career-joy-______ (fill in the blank with whatever it is you're up to). If you've been waiting until you feel like it, you'll notice that probably (warning — spoiler alert), the thing isn't happening. And neither are the feelings, for that matter. 

I'm not making this up. Check out this TEDxSF talk by Mel Robbins. And keep reading.

Passion, excitement, enthusiasm, energy and desire, along with whatever other feeling you're waiting for to show up on your doorstep prior to doing that thing, are the byproducts of the actions you undertake. Side effects. Positive consequences and encouraging ramifications. The delicious tasty fruits of your labours. They come about as a result of you getting into action, whether you felt like it or not. Especially when you didn't feel like it. 

Waiting to get into action until you feel like it is like waiting "until you're ready" to have a baby/go back to school/fall in love. It doesn't work that way. It maybe sometimes does seem that way, due to serendipitous circumstances, but those instances are the exception, as opposed to the rule. Hey, sometimes, when I feel like writing, I actually do write, but those are the one-off posts in sea of none. We're talking about really doing that thing. 

This is why Nike's slogan is "Just do it." 

This is not a dinner party, where heaven forbid you sneak a bite before everyone's been served. This is your life. Waiting on your feelings to show up before you start means you're going to be waiting a long time. 

Get into action first. The feelings you're seeking are waiting for you. Go and get 'em, Tiger. By doing that thing you (say you want to) do.

It works. I wrote this post you just read, didn't I? It feels pretty awesome.