Life is tiring. Anyone who brings up an argument like, “What? You only work eight hours a day, so you have sixteen hours left” is either myopic or trying to sell you something. If you’re single, then you need to take care of an entire household. If you have kids, your life revolves around keeping them safe and healthy. If you’re having money problems, you may need to work a second job to make ends meet.
But even if you’ve got things reasonably together in your life, chances are you are working at a job that at worst enervates you and at best you’re just not passionate about.
And because of this, you come home tired. The kind of tired that isn’t a physical exhaustion (though it can be that too) but a mental one, the kind where you just don’t want to think anymore, and you just want to sit on the couch and “do nothing.”
This is what I call the “Tired.” It’s not just the feeling of a lack of energy, or wanting to go to sleep; it’s the overwhelming sense of apathy that overtakes you after too much exposure to life’s banalities. It is a powerful force, possibly on par with Pressfield’s Resistance.
And I know this feeling well, believe me. But here’s the thing: You must fight this.
You must fight the Tired. You must fight that urge to sit on the couch and “do nothing.”
Because nothing will ever change if you don’t.
If you’re perfectly content with your life, stop reading now
So you have a life that may be okay, but could be better. And yet, at the end of the day, you have no energy to do anything. You know what that means?
It means tomorrow will be the same as today. You will come home tired again. And again. And again.
How long will you let that go on? One year? Five? Twenty? Will you be 60, 70, 80, and say, “gosh there was so much I wanted to do, but I was just so tired?”
The system that we live in, the one we have built, thrives on your fatigue. You spend more money when you’re tired. You eat less healthfully when you’re tired (thus benefiting the medical-industrial complex, not to mention the purveyors of unhealthy food), and you stay at cog-like jobs you hate that funnels profits to the wrong places. All because of the Tired.
You knew there was a list coming, didn’t you
So how do you work past the Tired?
Stay aware of it. Put a note on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator that says, “if I do nothing, I will be in the exact same place tomorrow.” Send yourself reminders. I want you never to let yourself forget it. After a while, it might jumpstart something in you. It will eventually sink in.
Shift your time around. You may not have the luxury of shifting your work day around, but you might have the ability to get up a bit earlier. Now, I’m the most non-morning person that there is, but I do know from experience that I’m much more creative in the morning than I am in the evening. So I personally block out Saturday mornings to work on things. If that’s not practical, try getting up fifteen minutes early. Give yourself a little time to do something, before you expend all of your energy at work.
Like Rami did. Waking up fifteen minutes early, a few times a week, he eventually wrote a book. A book! I know he has a full-time job, and many other responsibilities as well. Think he was tired? You bet he was. But in order to break through the Tired, he chose a third way:
Practice accountability. Bet someone a lot of money that you will do something. Find someone who cares enough about you to not let you slack. Or, perhaps less audaciously, agree to meet after work twice a week at a local coffee shop and work on projects. Maybe switch it up: one day yours, next day theirs. Tell someone about what you want to do. Make them get angry at you if you let them down.
Get more sleep. Lack of sleep is only partially related to the Tired (surprisingly), but getting more will still help.
I’ve done a lot of good work fighting the Tired recently. (For example, this site continues to be updated twice a week.) I have a lot of projects going on at once now, and have still found time to reach out to friends and go on some fun adventures. But I have quite a ways to go to accomplish everything that I envision.
Don’t get mad, get…actually, get mad
So the only choice is for us to get frustrated enough to do something instead of sigh and lament the way things are. I want to sign up for that class you always talk about. To go to the gym for the first time in months. To write the first few words of that novel you’ve been wanting to write your whole life. Something that moves the needle a bit. It doesn’t need to be big. It just needs to be something.
So let’s stay angry at the Tired. Make no mistake, this anger is a good thing. It’s just enough fire to say that you’ve had it with going around the same wheel again and again.
And then we can look forward to the day when we’ll come home tired, but with the fatigue of accomplishment, not the fatigue of ennui. Being tired isn’t all bad, after all.
But enough about me. How do you keep yourself motivated?
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