Workable #29: Goal-orientation Leads to Work Feeling Like WORK

Sometimes, when we are goal-oriented, writing starts to feel like work, an obligation: it’s pressure instead of pleasure.

Workable #29: Goal-orientation Leads to Work Feeling Like WORK
Photo by Kumiko SHIMIZU / Unsplash

Last week, I wrote about focusing on the work and letting the results take care of themselves. I want to think about that a bit more this week, and offer up more reason for us to be mindful about our work.

When I’m goal-oriented, the works starts to feel like…well…work. Writing starts to feel like something I have to do rather than something I get to do. It starts to become an obligation: it’s pressure instead of pleasure.

For me, this is where my meditation practice comes in handy. As someone dedicated to daily practice in meditation, more and more I’m learning to let go of future, goal-oriented thinking. Instead, I’m focusing on the now, focusing on this moment. If I find a meaningful identity in the word “writer” or “artist,” then it stands to reason that I should be fully present during these acts of creation. To do otherwise, after all, would be to sublimate the writing in favor of something else: word count, blog posts, book pages, etc.

Our culture is setup toward these markers of productivity. We tend to operate on an ethic that looks like this: I produced something; therefore, I am.

When this becomes our guiding principle, we tend to think of an artist not as someone who is creating art but as someone who has created and sold or published art. The difference is important because it means that we can’t truly be a writer until we’ve published some writing.

Art, then, becomes a job that we do rather than a creative act of self-expression.

Personally, I reject that idea. What makes me a writer? Well, the fact that I am writing!

Put your focus there, on the writing, and see where that leads you. This is what distinguishes you from non-writers and non-artists: the act of creation.

(Of course, I’m guessing we all, in one way or another, create something. But that’s a different conversation.)


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