Willpower and Willingness

My inner nag is pointing out all the things I’ve left undone . . . and my inner resister-of-authority wonders if the ‘not doing’ is about needing a break.  This is always a tricky question.  I am so ready to believe that I’m a slacker who is just looking for an excuse to play hooky. 

 Productivity / Creativity – getting enough of both

Does productivity rely on effort or nurture?  I know that creativity needs nurturing (plenty of inspirational experiences and freedom).  I’ve always assumed that productivity needed a firmer hand, a driving force.  Now I’m wondering if that is necessarily true?

My creativity can dream things up – but bringing a dream from hope to fruition requires discipline, which is, in my experience, a triumph of will over unwillingness (nose to the grindstone; buckle down; straighten up and fly right . . . you get the drift).   

Might it be possible to have robust productivity without tyrannical will-power and the abrasion of facial features? 

Truth be told, I mistrust the idea of allowing my willingness to dictate what gets done rather than my willpower. If I rely on a feeling of willingness in order to decide which things get done, what keeps my free-flowing productivity stream from meandering well away from the shores of OBLIGATION? 

I mean really, I have promises to keep and ends that need to meet.

 The In-box Should Never Be Empty

When I get in a twist like this, I try to notice the whole story that I am telling myself.  I have a sense that I’m behind on things I SHOULD BE DOING (rising panic).  My nag says that last week my main focus–and the bulk of my productivity–was writing for FLOURISHMENT, to the detriment of other obligations.  This week my focus has been usurped by a new client with an urgent matter. 

Question: Is my nag telling me the truth? Have I really been neglecting duties? Are there balls dropping all around me?

Answer: The things I got done in the last week include, work for legal clients (some remains to be done); telephone conference with a business client (generated more to-do’s); finalized and sent offer letters regarding my new legal services billing plan (need to customize and send more); finished the sweater I was knitting (have another one nearly completed that also needs finishing) . . . .

Hah!  Apparently, what is really tweaking me is that even though I do get quite a bit done on my many projects and promises, I never get DONE.   Finishing one task is more like opening a door to a bunch of new tasks than it is like closing a door on completion. 

It seems I have an unspoken expectation that I am going to regularly clear my to-do list and see the unobscured bottom of my in-box. 

Well, that would be a disaster.  It would mean that I am unemployed and out of ideas. 

 Fluency and BTUs

If an empty inbox is not the goal, what is this nagging about?  Maybe wanting to be FINISHED is about having promised to do things that don’t match my true strengths and interests?  If certain cascading tasks and demands don’t call out to my willingness, my adventurousness, then maybe those are not really mine.   With a little thought, I can see that I have indeed taken on projects and made promises that match my skills and abilities, but don’t really match up with my heart-felt interests and core strengths.  

Don’t get me wrong, I agreed to do these things for very good reasons, but I need a way to decide when to say “yes” and when to say “no” so that I shift towards a livelihood that is, as my friend Rhonni recently said, “a synthesis of my greatest strengths and my greatest interests.”  If I have that, then I suspect I will find that my organic willingness will supplant my grudging reliance on will-power.  

Transforming Marching Orders into Flow

Now, more than merely keeping up with time-sensitive tasks, I’m noting which things capture my willing attention and which need will-power and strict BTU adherence.  I am taking care of business while paying alert attention to where my willingness leads so I can begin navigating in that direction.  

My plan is to allow the will-powered duties to reach completion and to undertake fewer new duties of similar ilk.  I am allowing my sense of willingness to be a guide that turns me towards fluency.

When my productivity flows from willingness, I optimize my energy.  The ever-renewing to-do list becomes a power source, opening a way towards the life and livelihood I love.   


1 comment to Willpower and Willingness

  • mary

    I can say this about that….sometimes ya just want to do nothin about somethin…or somethin bout nothin. It is still the same energy either way. Thats fluency.

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