Just Do The Work

Don’t read this article if you want to continue avoiding the only thing that really matters.

Photo by Kiyun Lee on Unsplash

Don’t read this article if you want to continue avoiding the only thing that matters.

Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.

At 30, I was full of beans.

I wanted to know how to be successful, and I knew there had to be someone out there who had the answer.

So I pursued that person relentlessly.

I pushed hard to find what I thought I didn’t have, and in that, I forgot about the only thing that mattered — The Work.

Fifteen years down the road, as I browse the articles here on Medium, it becomes quite apparent that many people are just like me; seeking answers to problems.

Now, that’s all fine, but the elephant in the room here is that while we’re looking for answers to problems, we’re focused on the problem. We are immersed in our lack of success, of skill, ability, whatever – you name it.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is we have a linear concept of life and work, and in that, we believe that there is a future towards which we must toil.

We believe that in this future, the place where we are not yet, there is a better version of us waiting for us to arrive, but only if we make the right decisions and do the right things.

We are so caught up in solving problems, in the possible future outcomes of our action or non-action, that we forget about the work.

People, the work is the only thing upon which we need to focus.

Everything else is a distraction, or at best, B grade activities that do not of themselves bring about change, cash in your pocket, or success, whatever way you may define it.

Consistency Is Key

Now, I’m not telling you something you didn’t already know here.

You’ve likely read of this maxim of creativity before now but it bears repeating.

Turning up day after day, engaging in the work you decided to do is of primary importance, for the only reason that it should be important; the inherent enjoyment you extract from doing it.

When you and I enjoy the work we do, it sustains us.

In the absence of applause and positive feedback, the work itself is the only thing that feeds the creative soul and therefore, should be first and foremost, the reason you get out of bed every day.

Go to work.

Make your stuff.

Create yourself daily through the work you do, because you see when you do, you stand yourself apart from millions who don’t.

The truth of the matter is that most people dread work.

Jesus Christ! What a shitty way to live! That’s not living, that’s just about surviving.

Annie Dillard, in her book The Writing Life, wrote;

“How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives”

image of page 32 of The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

Page 32 of The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

She was writing of the merit in schedules for helping us keep chaos at bay.

And that’s what happens when we are not acting on purpose daily; we’re torn asunder by the chaos of our indecisiveness.

No One Else Has The Answers

I’ll be honest with you…

I used to question myself a lot. I still do but not as much as before.

These days I occasionally wonder if what I’m doing is going to be fruitful, but then I remember that this is all I have, and whatever I’m doing is right.

The shift was gradual.

One typical kind of day driving down the M50 motorway it dawned on me that time is an illusion. The future was a fallacy, and all that exists is now.

At that moment, the ever-present anxiety that came with the pursuit of success seemed to dissipate. I still needed time to detox and ween myself off the old concept, but something changed that day.

Today, the feeling that I am doing something I shouldn’t, or that I’m not doing something I should, is, I am happy to say, gone.

I realise that nobody else has the answers to my questions.

No one has lived me before; there is no manual for Larry Maguire.

So I believe we have no choice.

We must immerse ourselves in our chosen work for no other reason, at least primarily, that we are curious and engaged.

Step into the fire and see what happens

Forget about how you’re going to make it and just do the work.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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