I’m noticing a plethora of “No Bullshit, No Excuses” posts in my feed reader, and on the Twitter stream. To be honest, I wince a little every time I read one. Not because it hits close to home. But because it completely misses the mark and yet still contrives to make me feel bad about how I do my work.
In a tangentally related example, I was trying to explain to a reader why I don’t give more advice on my blog. “You have so much to teach! People could really use your insights.”
I am excruciatingly aware of how the position people are in affects both their need and ability to use information.
Let’s say you want to be happy. Lots of people are giving advice on that topic every day. Some people will show you how to examine the roots of your unhappiness. Other people will show you how to approve of yourself and be grateful for what you have. Still others with help you build yourself into the type of person who is happy, which is kind of like hitting a moving target, in my opinion.
I can offer advice on any one of those topics, and still, not everyone will be happy. However, the most oft-overlooked reason for not being happy is that people are not ready to be happy yet. And unfortunately, there are as many reasons for this as god made little green apples. And personally, I like to help the people who are the hard cases. Call it a professional challenge. If you’re not ready to shift, I want to help you know why, see what would have to change, and probably examine a few unspoken assumptions that keep you in that place. Because there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re ready to be happy and yet nothing working for you. And all those blog posts seem to do is rub it in your face.
So that’s why I don’t write posts like 18 Ways to Achieve Self Actualization NOW. Because if nothing is working for you, I want this to be a safe place for you to come.
Now, to tie that back into the disturbing No Bullshit posts I was talking about, here’s why I don’t like them:
Bearing Down Does Not Work
For most people, particularly the kinds of people who operate under their own mandate, there are two kinds of “time-wasters”
The first is where they are actively resisting doing or thinking about something, and they’re engaging in busywork to cover the oversight.
The second is an absolutely vital process where they replenish their divine spark. Julia Cameron refers to this as “filling the well” with vital sustenance so that you can be creative, bold, innovative. I think of it as the first part of a chemical reaction, the essential slow boil before you reach critical mass. Either way, it’s CRUCIAL. And if the “bear down and stop with the bullshit excuses” makes me feel bad, it probably does the same for a lot of other people.
There’s more to the story than just us being slackers
We are human. We most of us enjoy our work, or are working towards doing work that we enjoy. But in order to do that work, we must feed our soil.
I work from 5 til 5 every day, and often into the evenings. I choose to do this only partly to build my business. The truth is also that there’s very little else I’d rather do. Rather than watch Sons of Anarchy with my husband, I want to be creating.
However, there’s lot’s of stuff I do that isn’t strictly productive. I probably spent 2 hours a day reading articles and commenting on content in my feed reader. I do yoga. I take long breaks to read something not on a screen. I do the laundry, feed the cats. I spend a lot of time in my email.
I don’t beat myself up about these things. I really don’t. Sometimes I even say, “Today’s a day off.” and then do whatever. The point is, I’m always better for this time because I need conversation. I get inspiration almost solely in the form of comments from other people, and the rest of it comes from meditation, journalling, or reading.
When I used to toy with being an author, I liked this quote. “I only write when inspired. And I make it my business to be inspired at 9 am, every morning.”
I still need to be inspired, every day. And the only way I can do that is by replenishing the well. It’s NOT wasting time. It’s VITAL to your mission.
The Dark Side
Yes, it’s true that we waste time on the inconsequential, from time to time. Especially when we feel vulnerable and stuck. But I know exactly what I’m doing. I can tell what’s simply busywork and what nourishes my soul. With only a half an eyeblink I can tell you exactly what I’m avoiding.
But kicking my ass over it does not help me get over myself. The days I muddle along doing busywork are excruciating. They’re gross and uncomfortable and the busywork is simply a floating spar to clutch as I thrash around in a sea of confusion and worry and fear. At no point is shame ever a helpful part of the equation.
Once I achieve a certain clarity, everything resets. I’m back in the flow. Pointing out the time I wasted still is not helpful, because I learned (at the very least, ) coping techniques.
Every once in a long while, a firm shake is necessary. But it’s not so much to shame as to bring awareness to the problem. Sometimes you do get so deep in the morass that you cannot see daylight. But it’s a last ditch effort.
Stop trying to deny people their process.