'Want to do' vs. 'Have to do'
We are not automatons - We are emotional animals. Caution: It mostly won’t work for you!
I do try to read a few email newsletters each day and there’s one from Stephen St. Amant that I read as a part of it. A couple of days ago, he talked about “Why is this important?” and I had interesting counter-observations, so I decide to pen this post with my views.
Fair warning, I teach change for a living and in summary, what I have learnt in the last twenty years or so about humans is that there is no “one” generic answer - for anything. While I am happy for Stephen that what he had changed is working in his context, human systems are extraordinarily complex and what works for one often does not work for the other.
Perhaps a warning or nomenclature would be nice: At best, it is an example of “this is what I do” - read it and use it if there is any merit and if it is worth it. Caution: It mostly won’t work for you!
That’s why though we have a multitude of gurus, books, blogs, videos, podcasts, approaches, ideas, tools, techniques to steal from, these might work for some people, some of the time. No wonder that for most people (around 98%) who have new year resolutions, it drops off their radar in 1-3 months. And the one’s who made it work could have might as well started any day of the year, because they are the outliers.
Willpower and motivations vary for each person. How we emotionally react to doing work also varies along with it. For some people, the “why” definitions work. These are the one’s perhaps who react to cognitive reasoning approaches. Various authors have written books on this subject including James Clear that Stephen talks about and other popular pop-psychologists like Simon Sinek who have built careers on “Why”.
However, the reality is far different and humans though cognitive are even more emotional beings. There are things that we “Want to do”, enjoy doing and many times successfully do it. Then, there are the mundane “Have to do” which we do sometimes proactively (as important) or sometimes reactively when we are forced to the corner (becomes urgent). Or sometimes not at all, to our detriment: whether it is important, urgent or not - we are “Unable to do" it often realizing the matching negative results that it deserves. Just defining a “why” to the “Have to do” might or might not change it and make it any different. It could be just adding lipstick on a pig.
Every time I see someone who says “This works for me” - the only answer to that is “Good for you”, but without the context to the human on the other side, there is very limited utility other than that. Perhaps even negative utility for the time spent because it does not add much value beyond that.
The one thing that I did get from Stephen though, is his persistence to write and this has led me to write each day. That is one valuable outcome that I was inspired by his effort.
What do you think? Did I waste more of your time with my spiel?