The 365 Commitment

Idea not the Work

It is the idea of the work that causes the anxiety, not the actual work itself. When we realize there is something we have to do, the concept or ide of doing the work is what gets us frustrated, upset, and reluctant. The actual work is never that bad. Like going to the grocery store. You will sit there and whine and complain about the act of grocery shopping, but when you actually are doing it, it really is not that bad. So why do we constantly do this to ourselves?

Learning a new topic for example, on initial glance the topic seems really complicated and confusing. When you look at it for the first time it seems daunting and overwhelming. However, when you get into the act of actually doing it, it does not seem that bad. In fact, if you did not build it up so bad in you mind, learning the topic might have been somewhat fun. It is amazing how much the idea of something stops us before we even get started.

How often do we do this? It seems with almost everything the first major hurdle to overcome is the mental resistance. Just the thought of a new exercise program will melt down most people’s resolve to improve their health. If they were to actually just go do something instead of thinking about it so much, then you would find that an exercise program is not a complicated, overwhelming and difficult process. Rather easy actually. The hard part is getting over your anxiety and just getting started.

I have noticed that the idea of it even causes me problems in a sustained effort. For example, on my long run yesterday. A few times, while I was in the process of running, my mind was getting me all stressed and overwhelmed at the prospect of what I had to go through to finish the entire run. It seems that anytime hard work is involved the mind will do whatever it can to resist up to and including exaggerating the difficulty to ridiculous levels.

I am quite sure that cleaning her room is not going to kill my daughter. However based on her screams of agony and terror at the prospect, her mind has got her convinced that prospect of picking up the clutter in her room is going to take years. In fact I have been told that I am “literally” asking her to clean her room for the rest of her life. Funny however, once we get past the mental resistance and she starts cleaning, the 10 minutes is over fast, room is clean and all is right with the world.

My daughter’s mind is no different than mine. I do the exactly the same thing, just pick the topic. Oh that expense report? Oh ugh, it will take me days to get that done. I cannot spend my entire work week on an expense report. This is such a time consuming waste of time! The prospect of doing the expense report is overwhelming. Ahhhh! Then I sit down to do it. It took me 22 minutes. My brain had me convinced that my life was over because I had to do an expense report, it was not that bad. It went pretty easy. Now I am done.

So it is with everything in life. The idea of doing it is what is in our way, not the actually doing the work. Try it out a few times. Decide to go for a bike ride and watch what happens. The mind will start on you right away. Oh, there is no way I can do that. I will have to fiddle with the tires, pumping them up and all that for 4 hours. Then I will get everything ready. The bike ride will be hot, my legs will hurt, there is that hill I have to go up, it will be exhausting and I am so tired. Then just go for a bike ride anyway. In my case, I only had to pump 1 tire, that took 1 minute. The temperature was a nice 72 degrees and that hill was no where near as hard as it was imagined to be. Half way through the ride, I realized I was enjoying myself.

We need to quit letting the idea of work get in our way, and just overcome the mental resistance and do it anyway. Most the time we find out that the actual work is not that bad.

Guy Reams

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