How To Do Hard Work


To get important, hard work done, we have to fight the resistance. For my fellow Star Wars aficionados,  I am not talking about THAT Resistance. (In fact, I'm all for that Resistance!) Rather, I'm referring to the inertia and discomfort that keeps us from following through on our goals.  The thing that’s so important that we avoid it, because it feels insurmountable and/or we fear that we might fail. 

So…we put tons of other little things in front of the important work until we’re only left with little scraps of time and energy. We promise ourselves we'll get to it when conditions are more perfect, but it never comes. 

There is only one thing to do. Show up and do it anyway. Do it scared. Do it with discomfort. Do it without any expectations of perfection. Plan for wobbly first steps, crappy ideas and hilariously bad drafts. It’s all a part of the process. 

Overtime, those baby steps will become a confident stride. Your efforts will feel easier, more informed and directed. You just have to keep showing up. Sounds easier said than done, right? Here’s what I recommend to fight the resistance:

How To Do The Hard Work:

1. Do the pain comparison. Remind yourself of why you want to do the hard work. As a part of that, imagine your life if you never took that first (or second) step to get the hard work done. The pain of the first step pales in comparison to the pain of never pursuing your dreams. 

2. Set your clock.  Block out time—even just 5 minutes—to take a small, unintimidating step. Make sure to give yourself a concrete beginning and an end. The limits create a sense of urgency and diminish the “I don’t have enough time” barrier. That said, if you get in the zone and want to continue, go for it. 

3. See ya later, distractions.  I am notorious for interrupting writing for online shopping, answering a flurry of text messages or checking what’s new on social media. Those are terrifically effective avoidance behaviors. If I want to get anything hard done, I have to shut everything off and focus on the task at hand.

4. Do it daily. From my own personal experience, the only way to build confidence is to keep doing. No mantra and pep talk can replace the benefit of continuously showing up and doing. Even if its just a few minutes, the action keeps inertia on your side and another brick to your foundation of self-belief. 

5. Give yourself permission to suck. Very few people get things right their first try. Whenever I write something, start a new hobby or fitness program or sit down to brainstorm strategy, my first efforts are usually hilariously terrible. That’s okay. It’s a part of the process and not something to get down about. Knowing that, I always give myself time to have terrible first drafts so that better work can emerge.