Post: It’s like pulling teeth

It’s like pulling teeth

Hello everyone,

Please watch this short clip about a person explaining my whole life from their car. (The clip will play from partway through and the relevant part only plays for about a minute…you can do this!)

When I saw this clip, I resonated strongly with all of the feelings. Probably more so than others because the staring at your screen watching the seconds tick as you “sabotage” your own business prospects and future is quite a difficult thing to sit with. But you also get lots of practice at sitting with it because it is so hard to actually start doing the thing.

I am sure that many of us relate to this on some level, feeling like we are watching our potential slip away through being unproductive or being unable to switch on and dial into a task on demand.

Where does this come from? This need for productivity? Am I going to shock you all by suggesting that it is societal pressure and the continued downward spiral of capitalism into more and more wealth inequality and concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer?


Well, yes, it is that, obviously. We live in a dystopia.


I think there is a more personal approach to this. We all need to work to provide the basic necessities and niceties for ourselves and our loved ones. We do this to live in the society we exist in. The baseline for the effort this requires is going up exponentially however….for no good reason. Also the capacity to access work that invokes passion is harder and harder. I don’t think anyone is counting down the days in excitement until the next stocktake at their workplace.

Recently I had pneumonia and had to go to the hospital to get checked out after a particularly bad night. Sometimes you get through the ER waiting room really quickly and sometimes, you do not. This was a do not time. It was some number of hours waiting and for the whole time I felt miserable. I felt even more sorry though, for the security guard on duty while I was waiting.

He would walk slowly from one end of the room to the other, turn, and slowly walk back again. He did this, non stop, for the whole time I was waiting. There was nothing else to do. We were all quietly sitting and keeping our sickness to ourselves so he was free to roam…in this tiny room.

I’m sure he was glad that he didn’t have to break up a fight or something like that, or maybe he was dying for anything to do, but I can imagine myself in that situation and I think I would go insane.

My brain needs to have things to do, constantly. I think I have a reasonable attention span and when I’m dialed in on a task, I can focus and do good work.

My brain is also picky. I find some things much harder to dial in on than others. This blog is definitely an example. I have at least five other ideas for blogs to write that I think are interesting and I am actually wanting to write about but when the time to sit down and write rolls around, I can’t dial in, I find it so hard to get started and get momentum.

This happens with other tasks I do for work as well. Social media stuff, any marketing, website stuff, admin stuff, programming can be a tough one to get started on and even stuff like packing weights away or watering the plants I can’t just do it.

The irony is that if I do get started, I can really go for it and I work efficiently, quickly and produce quite a lot of stuff in a short timespan. But this productivity and focus is a piece of flotsam drifting in an ocean of everything else and I have to swim so far and use so much energy to find it.

Why? Why why why? Why do I sabotage myself like this? The guy in the video says it’s his phone and once he puts that down he finds the ability to focus on his tasks again and his productivity goes way up.

I think for me it’s a disconnect between doing things and the result of doing that thing. I could also probably use my phone less.

Here’s an example: Hockey training. I love it. I want to do it heaps and heaps. I get so much out of it. There are parts that are not my favourite. I don’t love skating drills in goalie pads but I get that it’s hugely beneficial. But even then, while I’m there I am all about focus and effort.

The results of this are obvious. I love hockey and will improve my skills and match fitness by training more. This will lead to improved performance and enjoyment in games as I can be more competitive and execute the techniques I want with more control and effectiveness. Whee!

Here’s another example: These blogs! I don’t love them, even though I am an opinionated human being and enjoy the opportunity to deep dive into my many thoughts on many things. I value them as tools but I do have to drag myself to do them each month.

The results of the blog are not obvious to me. I understand the theory that they are valuable pieces for establishing a consistency of brand and helping people align to a community with whom they share values. I understand that using lots of Amplify Fitness, Personal Training, Group Fitness, Moonah, Gym keywords in a blog is good for the algorithm too and finally that having new content appear on the website is a key metric Google look at. All of this is to say that by doing a blog I should hopefully improve the prospects of the business to attract great clients and we all win.

The second example results are absolutely more valuable in a life improvement and career furthering financial freedom kind of way and yet they don’t jimmy my jams. Hockey is not going to provide any of that and indeed if I do more business wins then I would have more time and money for hockey potentially but my brain cannot get past the “Hockey fun, work no fun” step.

This is a problem I have no real solution for. My current duct tape fix is to approach my tasks with the mindset that others are relying on me. I made a commitment to the web guy that I would help him out by putting content on the website and giving him something to work with. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful community at the gym and if I’m feeling like doing no work and watching it all burn I can think that I really enjoy those people and I want to do the right thing by them and in fact they pay me their good money to do that.

Each step removed from direct accountability to someone else or passion and enjoyment makes dialing into a job that much harder.

Which is another reason why these blogs seem quite stream of consciousness in their delivery. Because I don’t plan, I get a topic and I write about it and go all over the place until I get to a point where I feel I can tenuously tie it back together and have the flimsy illusion of an actual article.

So how does this all tie together?

I think it ties together because I saw a video of someone else grappling with something I grapple with. I spent a bunch of paragraphs writing about how I experience fairly encompassing battles with procrastination, freezing and laziness – a word I have used as a self descriptor often.

For the fellow in the video and for me, understanding how your brain works in a world it has not evolved for is the first step to solving this puzzle. If you struggle with motivation for work, or the gym or something else (maybe you would love to read more but can never seem to make it happen), perhaps this could prompt you to think about why doing the thing is such a challenge.

How can we work with our brains to get the things we want out of ourselves? Also, just as importantly, how can we accept that who we are is both perfectly ok and something we can take ownership of?

In my head I see a snow-capped mountain. I see the sun emerging from the clouds and beaming down on the mountain. The snow on its peak begins to melt and runs down eons old grooves and fills the rivers that flow from the base of the mountain through our world and all the way out to the ocean.

I hope you can see where I am going with this analogy. What we give to the world is the water running down the mountain. The mountain itself is us, our brains and the grooves we have carved in us from evolution and from the people and the environment around us.

The world doesn’t care much for the grooves where our water flows, it tells us that everyone should have a mountain that flows the exact same way.

But we do not! We must embrace the way we all flow. We all flow differently and are all beautiful products of this earth. We can all be kind to ourselves. We understand what we want and are capable of and what we can push ourselves to achieve. We can let the rivers of our beautiful selves add colour and vibrancy to the world.