My Account

What Stops Me From Doing The Work

turning a wooden bowl on a lathe
There is only one way that a work of art gets created: by putting in the time.

I’ve Been Doing Less of The Work Recently

It was not by design that I started doing less work. My life just got busy. The responsibilities of running a business seem to only increase. 

I used to do The Work first thing after breakfast when I start my work day. Last year I was doing this consistently for months, and I remember the feeling of increasing depth with each day of my practice. 

But increasing responsibilities crept up on me and soon I found myself doing other things first before doing my work. Then I tried to fit my work into my to do list, but it was never as consistent that way. Other, more pressing jobs got done first. And I would run out of time for The Work by the end of the day. Or run out of energy to do it. So it became irregular.

I Made a List of Thoughts that Stop Me from Doing My Work

I knew that doing The Work was something I enjoyed and valued. And I knew I had to be believing some thoughts in order to not be doing what I wanted to do. So I made a list. Here’s what I came up with:

  • I want to do The Work in the morning.
  • I do too many things in the morning.
  • I don’t want to block my mornings off limiting my availability to clients.
  • I need to make money.
  • There are too many competing needs in my business.
  • I have too much to do.
  • If I can’t do it well, I don’t want to do it at all.
  • I want to do other things too.
  • I want a break from it.
  • There are business tasks I have been tabling forever.
  • I want to get caught up first.
  • I want to not have to think about it.
  • I want The Work to be an automatic part of my day.
  • My day does not belong to me.
  • I want to exercise.
  • I want to study French.
  • I want to go to bed on time.
  • I can’t wake up early consistently.
  • I can’t get everything done every day.

I Questioned a Few of These Thoughts

In addition to this list, I also had the thought, “I should do The Work,” and “I want to do The Work (but can’t).” When I questioned these two thoughts, I found that it is perfectly fine if I don’t do The Work at all. Just landing in this gave me a lot of freedom. 

I don’t want to do The Work out of guilt. And it’s okay even when I want to do The Work but can’t. There is a time for everything, and sometimes The Work just has to be put on the back burner. It’s more peaceful to simply be with that reality.

I could also see that I actually “do The Work” naturally all day long when I consider various stressful stories and look for alternative ways of seeing them. It’s not the formal work, but it is not nothing either. 

So I Continued Questioning

Questioning only a couple of concepts from my list shifted my perspective a lot. I found first of all that it’s okay not to do The Work. I found permission to myself to not do it regularly and that opened a lot of freedom.

But I also found that that freedom did not mean that having a routine was bad. I realized that I really like routine, and I really like doing The Work in the morning, and it has worked well for me in the past.

So I rearranged my schedule. It felt very freeing to do this. Now, I have 30 minutes scheduled right after breakfast each morning to do The Work. It does not take up too much of my day, and it gives me the experience of The Work to start my day. If I do nothing else that day, I feel like I’ve done my work.

I also am creating a plan to delegate some my administrative responsibilities, allowing me less pressure in the day-to-day running of my business.

And I also decided to try having one week per month dedicated as a “project week.” This could take the weight I feel off my back, that I never get to do the bigger projects in my business. And it could help remove the feeling of competition between doing some of those things I want to do and doing The Work.

I am excited to try out my new schedule and keep learning as I go.

How About You?

What stops you from making The Work a regular practice? Make a list of the thoughts that stop you and question a few of them. I’d be interested to hear what you find.

One support for making The Work a regular practice can be to take a class in The Work. Sometimes the outside motivation of completing assignments can help jump-start a regular practice. Join us taking The Work 101 online course.

Have a great week

“When the mind begins inquiry as a practice, it learns as a student of itself that everything is for it. Everything adds to it, enlightens it, nourishes it, reveals it. Nothing is or ever was against it. This is a mind that has grown beyond opposites. It’s no longer split. It keeps opening because it’s living out of a fearless, undefended state, and it’s eager for knowledge.  Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.