“Most days, I don’t feel like running until I start running.”
Tom Fleming is a two-time winner of the NYC Marathon. He ran from 130 to 150 miles per week during the height of his athletic career. That’s a lot of miles. Like most athletes, he was incredibly disciplined. Yet as his comment suggests, there was many a day when the last thing he wanted to do was to get out and run. It was only when he actually got on the road and started running that he found his groove and felt like doing what he had to do.
It’s been a while since I laced up my running shoes, but as a writer, I am totally in sync with Tom’s point of view. Here’s an example of what I mean: Just recently, for a project I’m working on, I had to analyze a complex article and write about it. I was feeling very resistant to the whole idea. Sluggish, tired, and feeling put upon — that was my mood.
Finally, I gave myself a deadline, sat on my butt at my writing desk, and got to work. The more I delved into the article, the more interesting it was — and the more intriguing the whole idea of capturing its key themes became to me. My feeling of resistance just melted away and was replaced by a kind of energized curiosity.
This mindset propelled me forward and words began flowing. I soon had several pages that were rough, but could be shaped into something substantial. Instead of feeling lousy, I felt enlivened and even proud of myself. I’d wrestled with some complex ideas and had reframed them in a way that was very satisfying.
Has that ever happened to you? So often, we let our moods master us. And yet, if we can just push through them and get to work, the work itself rewards us by becoming pleasurable and inspiring. Moods are really just paper tigers: we need to burst through their artificial barriers to get where we want to go.