Only a fool wants war. But once a war starts, then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy. – Derfel Cadarn (Excalibur, Bernard Cornwell)
Some things fucking suck, but we still gotta get them done. How we do these brutally painful things probably says more about us than how we do the easy stuff, the stuff we’re good at and the stuff we love.
The idea of committing to something painful and refusing to stop is well illustrated in this video of Gary V eating increasingly spicy chicken wings:
I’m always getting sucked back into my own comforts. For my family, Sunday is about comfort, taking the day slowly, and relaxing. Often we do that so well that shifting back into gear on Monday is a huge challenge. Caffeine and epic music can help grease the gears:
Then it’s a matter of getting down to the work. I’ve found that the thing I dread doing the most is the thing I should be doing. On days I’ve done well, I skip looking at emails and I go straight into doing the hardest thing. On days I don’t do so well, I end up wandering through emails and end up on chat support with an Amazon support rep trying to return a book for $8. The question I ask to determine whether I’m being productive or not is, “Does doing this activity bring me closer to where I want to be in 5 years?” If the answer is “No” the best thing to do is abandon the task and start doing something I can foresee contributing to a more successful future.
Sometimes that thing is studying a new technique or skill that will contribute to my work. Sometimes the activity is simply doing good work for a client I expect to be working for in 5 years.
Right now, the war I didn’t want is the war of Sunday Ryan vs. Monday Ryan. Monday Ryan cannot fight half-heartedly. He can’t fight with regret. He must wage war with a savage joy in defeating himself.