Fight past the icky feeling and get your work done
It’s a cold rainy day in May. It should be warm, but I’m in a hoodie, and I cranked up the heat on the way into work. I stare at my to-do list, which is the size of a Martian mountain, and I wonder how I’ll be able to write today.
I just. Don’t. Feel it.
Can you relate?
So, how do you stay inspired despite your feelings and fight past that icky feeling? The following 5 steps have helped me crank out words despite my mood, feelings, and the weather.
1. Realize that feelings aren’t reality
The first step is to realize that your feelings don’t always represent what is really happening.
Today I feel horrible because I anounced to my high school students that I’d be taking my business full time, so this would be my last year at Blue Ridge Christian School. I feel horrible because of the weather, and I just feel horrible because . . . well, for no good reason.
Here’s how I blow past this block.
I was getting nowhere on my to-do list, so I just paused for about a minute and a half.
I told myself that what I am feeling is just a feeling. And then I separated my feelings. Yes, I feel sad about leaving, but no, that does not mean I can’t do any more work. Yes, I feel bad about the weather and just bad in general, but NO these are not valid reasons for sitting and grumbling and wasting time on Facebook.
Once I confront these feelings, I can change my focus.
2. Choose your end goal (and result) over immediate feelings
Now that you recognize your feelings and know what is real, it’s time to change your focus by choosing your end goal.
In my situation, I realized that I have a choice to make. I can either 1) choose my feelings and get nothing done, which will result in feeling worse, or 2) I can choose to get things done and feel more than twice as good because I met my goals DESPITE how I felt.
What’s your end goal? Is it finishing your story, writing that book, doing your homework, teaching your class better? Whatever it is is far more important that dwelling on your bad mood.
Choose the result you want.
3. Just do the next thing
The first two steps are much easier than the next two.
Once you recognize your feelings and choose your end goal, you may start working on a project and get sidetracked with your feelings—like you’re stuck in a wheel.
That’s kinda how emotions work, so you have to prepare for that.
Here’s what I do, and I’ll credit my mom for this. She pushed this into my head, and it has PAID OFF!
Just do the next thing
For me, the next thing is writing this blog post. How am I able to do this?
One letter at a time.
I’m not kidding. If I can type one letter, I can type one word. If I type one word, I might as well type the next sentence. If I can do that, I should do the next paragraph.
It’s not without it’s struggles. Sometimes each paragraph is a struggle, and I have to repeat steps one and two each time.
What’s your next “next thing”?
Do it. Keep doing it. One letter, one step at a time.
Then, you will start to see something amazing happen.
4. Build momentum
By the time I reached the middle of writing point two of this blog post, something amazing happened: I couldn’t stop writing. My bad mood melted. My fingers flew across the keyboard.
What had happened?
I had hit the critical stage where the feelings lost (because they didn’t represent reality anyway), and my passion took over.
Did you catch that??
This is how you defeat writer’s block, too!
Do the next thing, do the next thing, do the next thing . . .
Your inspiration and passion will kick you into high gear, and you’ll get things done!
No, it’s not easy to get to this step, and no, it doesn’t happen every time. Sometimes cranking out words feels more like trying to run in the pool. You just can’t get momentum.
But that’s okay. You are still making progress.
If you can keep it up, however, you might just reach step four, and this is the most rewarding step of the process.
5. Reward yourself
With the exception of step five, I guess. This one’s optional because for me, hitting step four is a reward in and of itself.
But other times I’ll treat myself to 10 minutes of hobby time, or maybe a quick scroll through Facebook. Maybe a reward is getting a drink (yay, waterbottle-filling time!).
Sometimes it helps to build momentum by promising yourself a reward in step three.
How’d it go?
Try this out today. Tell me how it went. And how do you get past bad feelings and reach your goals? Share your strategies in the comments