Posts tagged success

Don’t Feel Like Working? Read This.

What to Do When You Don’t Want to Work?

I have put my computer aside more than once to cry over an unjust email or to get my fair share in a fight with my partner or another close friend. 

I have had bad days. I have sometimes taken off on those hard days. Instead of writing, I went out on a drive and bought tiger prawns or cried and slept or read Charles Darwin while drowning myself in chamomile tea.

These bouts of sulking in my misery or fighting followed by pampering and sometimes spending time with the other fighter of the duel leading to exhilaration and then to that moment of clarity where I justified the time spent crying as just another day lived and felt that life was as clear as a night sky have sometimes lasted for an hour and up to a day or even more.

One young summer of my life, I was living in Himachal, the home of the Himalayas. While learning the flute, practicing yoga, working on my blog, and trying to stick to Vipassana meditation techniques, I didn’t realize that I had buried myself under a lot of pressure to be the perfect Bohemian. Ironically, I was on a laid-back mountain staycation.

One Friday, my abuse of self-expectations pushed me to the abysmal depths of moroseness. I didn’t even want to lift my feet to walk to the bathroom. I spent two to three days lying in bed and weeping and sleeping and avoiding everyone and then hiking to a mountain alone.

 In the two days of nothingness, I ignored all work, didn’t practice the flute, and put the yoga and meditation aside for wiser people. And on the third day of the rendezvous, I hung out with my travel friends and chatted away in the sun while eating palak paneer with garlic naan.

I needed that break because I had tired myself while learning new skills and working continuously in a new environment for almost a month. I needed to relax. I needed to just be. 

The break from the routine did me good.

But when I am neither overworked nor under any kind of pressure and still spend hours or days brooding about how I don’t want to work today or do anything else, I try to correct myself. 

I say, hey, this time will never come back. You should use it well. Don’t be sad. Smile and chirp.

To manifest my ideas about how to get motivated to work and laugh, I have even written an article on how to make the most of the bad days. In the piece, I emphasize why we should get out of bed even when we don’t want to — we should acknowledge our feelings first, and meditate or read or do something else we enjoy and then slowly get back to work if we can.

I may sound like someone who expects life to be as perfect as an abstract Turing Machine. 

Or to some of you, I will appear like a mature person trying to channel her emotions and downfalls so that she can pick up herself faster than before. 

Well, I don’t want to stay fallen on the floor. Do you?

Also Read: Why we should keep climbing even if our hands bleed

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I love the idea of working even when we don’t feel like working to get our energy back. Working towards our goals irrespective of how we feel doesn’t signify that we are insensitive but shows that we are professionals who deliver what the world is waiting upon us for.

If you don’t go to work, maybe your presentation would get delayed and no one else would be able to step in your shoes. Or you might lose the opportunity of getting the project lead position because you didn’t take leadership initiatives. That conversation thread with a potential client might die for you didn’t follow up with your portfolio. If I don’t do anything for a few days at a stretch, not only would I feel a void, but my blog readers and clients wouldn’t be happy either.

We don’t always have to perform, but a continuous slack in our work attitude will show.

Or, instead of either moping or working, I would rather enjoy my time. Won’t we all? I would go out and buy more tiger prawns and cook them with bottle gourd. Or I will go cycling with a friend and revel in the fresh air.

Roaming around free on one or more bad days sounds better than working, especially when we don’t have the motivation to go to work.

But truth be told, our mind doesn’t let us tame it that easily.

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Work Usually Disengages Us from Bad Thoughts And Helps Us Look at Our Problem in a New Light

If I don’t engage in an activity that grips my attention, I keep revisiting the micro-nuisances of my otherwise beautiful life. 

I would be putting the scrabble alphabets together but crying intermittently about how the real estate agent was an incorrigible male-chauvinist unable to move on. But when I write, I am able to layout my emotions through my words (or any other work) in a wholesome way rather than mulling over them in my mind. 

Though the healing process could be different for everyone, most of us need something more capturing than entertainment to direct our thoughts. 

Mark McGuinness, a coach for creative professionals, said in the book Manage Your Day to Day“Treat your work as a refuge — an oasis of control and creative satisfaction in the midst of the bad stuff. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not on fire creatively every day — give yourself credit if you show up for work and make even a small amount of progress. When you put down your tools for the day you may even see your personal situation with a fresh eye.”

The above lines are true not only for creative people but for most of us. When we divert our attention from personal issues to our profession, we would not only progress on the work front but we may end up understanding our issues better.

How many times has it happened with you that while going through incessant meetings you forgot about that morning quarrel with your partner or an investment gone wrong? And when you do shake up work and drive back home, you realize how stupid the fight was or that one investment is bound to go bad in ten years of financial planning.

By dumping our energy into work we put ourselves into the driver’s seat of our life. We feel in control, at least professionally. Though our day might have started with an unexpected emotional speed breaker, we drive through the valley of work almost smoothly. Even if the drive isn’t that easy, the motion sets us for progress.

We should keep walking to become who we can in spite of the suffering, Nietzsche said. Or in other words, pain doesn’t mean that we should stop.

If you hate going to work or just do it for the money, you might find it harder to use task lists as a distraction. In such cases, I suggest you read these three pieces in which I talk about changing careers, finding passion, and how to build a career we love when we can’t find passion. 

But if you enjoy even some aspects of your work, chances are that you will be happier doing it and moving on rather than just sulking. Your service would be your anchor to positivity and growth.

When I immerse myself in editing a piece or scheduling Pinterest, I stay on the top of my work deliverables. Personal thoughts still come and go but rather than becoming the main thread of my brain they spawn on the side randomly. My work doesn’t let these unwanted notions take the full processing power of my brain, the unsettling threads die hungry, and I continue writing and researching about ancient caves and Marketing Analytics methods for dependent clients. 

I have also often seen that while I work the things that have been bothering me keep untangling themselves in the background. And I feel a growth, both, personally and professionally. 

“Depth of style can only spring from a deepening of our emotional life.” The greatest artist N. C. Wyeth once wrote in a letter to his youngest son Andrew Wyeth (Courtesy the book Posterity).

But if I was playing scrabble, the troublemakers would have overpowered the less-demanding gaming brain threads, and instead of winning with words such as conscientious and concomitant, I would be loosing with lost and found. I would be playing to beat my partner but my chain of thoughts would be, in turn, defeating me.

Work helps us channelize our thoughts, gives us control, and allows us to look at our problem in a new light, all three contributions are helpful when our emotions might otherwise drown us. 

 

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An Alchemist at Work, a painting by N. C. Wyeth / Public domain

 

Our focus on work shouldn’t be deterred by our mood for another big reason. 

Emotions Are Fleeting

How we feel change more often than we think — our emotions are not created just by our inner bodily reactions but also by our surroundings — an idea extensively discussed in the book How Emotions Are Made, by the famous psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett. A sunny morning invokes a gush of positivity but a dark evening brings along the clouds of doubt.

We never feel the same all the days of the week. We don’t even feel the same throughout a twenty-four-hour day. 

As we are constantly faced with volatile emotions, we cannot depend on them to guide our mood, our professions, and thus our lives. 

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Our emotions can show us thousands of faces every day. And they come and go.

Working Hard Implies More Skills = More Fun at Work And Less Hesitation

We can neither resolve our doubts nor our problems by sitting on our hands. But by working even during hard times, we would not only direct our energy but also get better at our job, while feeling more in control. And when we are more skilled we enjoy our work more and are less hesitant to do what we do even when we are not motivated to work. 

As Cal Newport writes in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, forcing the skills to come is the hardest phase. And then he shares the story of a bluegrass musician who plays 3-4 hours straight for a month to master a new fast tune.

A study conducted at Yale University proved that the more time we spend at work, the better we get, and the more we enjoy it. (I have written more about what makes for a good career in this article about following our curiosity rather than chasing the passion.)

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) also tells us that we need competence, the feeling that we are good at what we do, and autonomy, control over our day, to feel intrinsically motivated for our work.

To digest the idea of working to feel better, think of the difference between learning to swim and then swimming to relax. While we learn, we almost want to skip the lesson every day. But once you know the strokes, swimming is fun and helps us feel better.

“Life is or should be full of doing things you would prefer not to do,” John O’Hara wrote in a letter to his daughter, Wylie O’Hara. O’Hara was a popular and successful writer and his commitment to writing was at the peak even at the peak of his career. (Courtesy Posterity)

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I often wonder how patient a fisherman has to be. He has to work hard, even when the sea is rough.

How to Motivate Yourself to Work When You Don’t Feel Like Working?

As I said in a piece on creative rituals, I let my mood expire.

Instead of deciding whether we should go to work or not, we should just work. We can take the day slow, do some self-care, and then head out to work irrespective of our mood. It is like any other day but we would be easier on ourselves. Rather than criticizing ourselves about our emotional turmoil, we should pat ourselves on the back for going through the tough times like a warrior.  

The trick is to not think of work as an enemy but to perceive work as a savior. Something that anchors us. That holds our hand when we are falling. When we feel bad about everything or our heart is broken or we are facing a financial problem, we can still pick up that pencil or pen or get on a project that can add value to not only ours but others’ lives too.

Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art and Turning Pro, said in the parting away notes of the book Manage Your Day to Day about which I have talked above and which has inspired me to write this article,

“What is a professional, anyway? A professional is someone who can keep working at a high level of effort and ethics, no matter what is going on — for good or ill — around him or inside him. A professional shows up every day. A professional plays hurt. A professional takes neither success nor failure personally.”

He adds, “In the end, for me, it comes down to the work itself. A pro gets younger and more innocent as he or she ascends through the levels. It’s a paradox. We get salty and cynical, but we creep closer, too, to the wonder. You have to or you can’t keep going. Any other motivation will burn you out. You develop a practice, and the practice gets simpler and less self-oriented over time. We rise through the levels of professionalism by a process of surrender. We surrender to our gift, whatever that may be. We give ourselves up to the goddess and to the process.”

And then he ends his thought with a rhetorical question, “Is this a path you want to travel? Did someone say it was easy? Do you have a choice?”

But it is easier said than done.

When I am sad or feeling low, I still spend a couple of hours agonizing here and there but then I also look forward to opening an empty document and writing. Or I do some other admin work. Or something else. Or something else. 

Slowly I forget about the problem and the dark clouds and the inconvenient conversations for I have submerged myself in the fictional world of words. 

No matter what profession we are in, we all have our fictional worlds. We just have to get inside them.

When you get into the habit of embracing work rather than pushing it away in hard times, you will be able to surrender to it when you need the distraction the most. And if you practice enough, the distraction would have taken its own independent form. It would have become something larger than life. It would become your gift. 

Try working when you don’t feel like it. It isn’t as bad as it seems.

Or to say,

“When the fields get sodden, let’s not retreat to our homes. Let us put ourselves in the yoke. Let us pull harder. Let us sow. Come rain or thunder, we tend. Finally, we reap. And we see that the rain doesn’t make us sickly cold and the process doesn’t hurt us. But these are the things that keep us sane.”

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When we work hard, we receive the fruits. Our toil turns into flowers.

 

If you want to know what really matters, read this: 30 Life Lessons I Grasped From My Twenties

 

How often do you say I don’t want to go to work today? What are your thoughts on how to be motivated to work? Let me know in the comments.

You Are Unsuccessful Because You Are Not Having Fun – Ideas Inspired By Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond was born in 1934 in Dehradun, in the foothills of the Himalayas, to British parents. 

Ruskin’s parents got divorced when he was four years old. After a few years of the divorce, his father put him in a boarding school in Shimla for he couldn’t keep the little boy with him.

Ruskin was only eleven when his father died of the plague in the second world war in Calcutta.

After his father’s death, Ruskin continued studying in the same school in Shimla and lived intermittently in Dehradun with his grandmother and mother. When he was seventeen, upon his mother’s insistence, Ruskin went to London to get a job there and work. 

But neither did Ruskin like London nor did he enjoy his job. 

Ruskin wanted to become a writer since he was a little boy.

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You Are Unproductive Because You Don’t Have Goals

What does this guide on Why are Goals Important contain?

    1. What is productivity?
    2. Why are goals important?
    3. How to set goals?
      1. Setting achievable goals and short-term goals versus long-term goals
      2. Cutting the noise – Eliminating unimportant goals
    4. How to achieve goals – Goals versus System
    5. Your Takeaway
    6. References
    7. What’s next?

 

What is Productivity?

Productivity is a measure of doing things efficiently. It is the rate at which you deliver work.

We adults constantly worry about our productivity.

I wake up to a long to-do list. By the end of the day, I have only picked a few items from the top. Even after working all day long, everything important still seems to be in the queue.

Rather than thinking about what I have done, I think of the work I haven’t done.

One blog post is published. But what about its marketing? I made that phone call. But what about the email I had to send?

Some days, I don’t work with a task list. On such days, I am hazed in the cloud of things to do and cannot focus on one thing.

Pending tasks hover in the sultry evening, and then it is a never-ending game of self-blame.

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What Are Habits – Your Answer to Willpower

We all hope to become a better version of ourselves. I want to be a better writer. My partner wants to be a good coder. My friend wishes to be a good mother. You dream of winning a swimming championship. Someone fancy playing the piano as Lady Gaga plays.

One way to achieve these set goals that I mentioned above is to possess the willpower to get up and do the thing, every day. Another way is to form a habit (I will explain what are habits as the article progresses) which you practice regularly to move towards your goal. I should develop a habit of writing daily. My partner can become an efficient coder by developing a habit of focusing on the quality of his code every time he codes. My friend has to create a habit of not losing patience when her child annoys her. You get my point.

But you might ask the difference between having the willpower to do these things regularly and forming a habit to practice them as a routine? Both ways need you to work.

To make this distinction clear, we will understand habits in detail.

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How to Achieve Your Goals – 12 Principles I Have Stuck to Since I Was 15–Years–Old

I was a science and a mathematics girl. Having seen my interest and capability in the sciences, my brother decided that I should compete to get into the IITs, the MIT of India, and become an engineer.

As I hail from a small town, which doesn’t offer many educational opportunities, my father took me to Kota, a city in the desert of Rajasthan, admitted me in one of the private institutions of the coaching-hub of India, and left me in that unknown town; I was fifteen years old and hadn’t stayed away from my parents for more than a few days.

At my first attempt at the entrance examination, I failed. At the second attempt, for which I dropped a year, I ranked seventy-eight (78) amongst half-a-million students.

It didn’t happen by chance. I was young. Though now it seems weird to think that I understood the importance of goals back then, I knew I had to achieve my goal. And it didn’t seem that hard at that time; I just had to crack the concepts, practice, and give exams.

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Elon Musk – Twelve Things We Can Learn from the Hulk–Like Tycoon

The prime-time news and the first page headlines of reputed national newspapers and the gossiping internet forums and the geeky silicon valley blogs have bombarded us with Elon Musk. They scrutinized the guy first for his electronic money transfer system (Paypal), then for his electric cars (Tesla), then for his rockets and space stations (SpaceX), and then for solar energy (SolarCity).

But I felt I still knew nothing about the silicon valley tycoon who manufactures rockets and cars in one of the most expensive places on earth aka Silicon Valley. So to know more about the real-life Iron Man, I read his biography – Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance.

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Friedrich Nietzsche: How to Choose Between Ambition and Happiness?

After an hour or two of the daily evening walk, I tell myself that I should go back home and read. But sometimes, I want to keep walking with my friend. I want to sleep at 4 am after Netflixing zombie movies back to back. I want to wake up late and then write and let the day design its schedule.

But during those zombie movies, I keep looking at the watch. The MacBook throws the low-battery warning, but I don’t plug in the charger as I want the computer to sleep its natural course. And then we can sleep too. But then we stay awake some more and talk about our lives.

As every hour passes by, I realize that my waking up time is getting shifted by one hour and that I had to sleep early and start the next day with a fresh run in the morning. But I continue the conversation as that was what I wanted to do at that moment.

And the next day, when I start writing at 11, I brood over the valuable time that I lost by getting up late.

Also Read: How to Make a Schedule – To Live and Work Better

 

Why can’t we do what we want to do when we want to do it?

Why do we think about the future  —  the most uncertain and unpredictable   and not about now? Why do we follow so many small daily habits?

What do we want out of life?

Why do we wait for Sundays for lunch with our family? 

Why do we make a house and live in it and go to the office and come back to do the same all over again?

 How do we choose between ambition and happiness?

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Why Relationships are Important and How to Build Them

Once when I was in the sixth grade, I asked my sister to make sandwiches for my school picnic. A string of events occurred, and she declared I was selfish.

I realized that I was more interested in getting my work done, rather than the feelings and responses of other people. The acknowledgment that I was a bad person and that people knew about it was suffocating. I understood that I would be left alone if I did not change.

I consciously tried to become a better person by caring for other people and by showing that I cared.

Why are relationships important?

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