You Know What To Do, So Why Won’t You Do It?

It may have nothing to do with passion or motivation.

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Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

I was just on a call with a client who has been struggling with her work ethic. No matter how exciting of a project she has on the go, her motivation doesn’t catch up. As an artist of sorts, she knows what she needs to do to be a success. Practice, refine, and repeat her craft. But no matter how passionate she is, or how much dedication the project requires to do it justice, she procrastinates, half-asses, and hides out.

So if she knows what to do, why won’t she do it?

After asking her a few questions, she mentioned her previous job. She mentioned that she used to work 70+ hours a week, went unappreciated, and became completely burnt out to the point of needing to stop working for 6 months.

“Oh,” I said finally, “I wonder what your beliefs are about hard work after having that experience.”

She began to list off her opinions of hard work. It’s exhausting, it burns her out, it kills her social life, it risks her health, she never gets recognized for it anyway, it’s not sexy to potential partners… The list went on. And then it became clear; in coach language, she was ‘incomplete’ about hard work. (Experiences from the past were colouring her present, and energy from the past was carrying forward to the energy she feels now.)

This context of hard work was getting in the way of so much more than her artistic motivation. She couldn’t stick to any fitness or nutrition structures, she couldn’t manage her schedule, she was overcome with lack of confidence, she pushed people away (forget about relationships, so much hard work!)… In short, no area of her life was moving forward.

After dedicating the call to breaking down her old context of hard work, distinguishing what strategies she used to make up for it (like procrastination and hiding out), and seeing the impact on her life, she was shocked. Her whole life was so influenced by her resistance to, and hatred for, hard work, because she saw it through such a vilifying lens from the past.

She got to take a step back, and see the bigger picture. The context was everything. It’s not that hard work is always the answer — for some people, it’s actually some iteration of the opposite.

Then, the crazy part… We created a new context for hard work. Her context — the lens through which she sees hard work — is now completely different. By this point, she was wiggling with aliveness and excitement to get back to work.

Context creation is a massive part of coaching. I am FIRED UP about this part of what I do because it literally stops people in their tracks of selling out on their passions.

Next time you’re not doing what you KNOW there is to do, consider taking a step back, and questioning the context you’re in.

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