Apathy is a slow rot.
The thing with apathy is that you don’t really notice it setting in (until you do).
In the meantime, it’s like unknowingly self-administering a regular low dose anaesthetic and sleepwalking through life.
Apathy is often the result of busy-ness, lesser goals masquerading as something in your urgent quadrant.
It might look like this:
I have a dream to write a book.
But before I write today, I’ll just do those breakfast dishes and that load of laundry.
I’ll just check for any stray eyebrows in the high magnification mirror.
I have no inspiration. I wonder what’s come up on FaceBook since I checked an hour ago? OMG that dancing Chihuahua is adorable.
I should call my mother. Family is so important.
Oh darn, a hangnail.
I’m feeling peckish. Lunchtime already? Can’t work on an empty tank now, can I?
I can’t really get into this till I’ve had a shower.
I should really tidy up my office – look at the state of this desk! Outer order creates inner order.
Post lunch coma. Coffee. Must. Have. Coffee.
Before you know it, the workday is over. Yes, you’ve been “busy” all day, but the big stuff doesn’t budge. Spending precious time getting ready to do the real work is like falling off a log. Easy. Stupid-easy…
And this is not just a dilemma of the self-employed.
Most of us have a goal that’s slowly making its way to the dream graveyard, dragged along by apathy. It’s so much easier to be reactive.
I love this quote by Robert Brault: ‘We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.’
Apathy requires these things to keep its life-support switched on: no clear goal; no deadline or accountability; and no (or low) self-belief.
It thrives on excuses and defensiveness (‘I just don’t have the headspace – look at my day for heaven’s sakes!’).
It loves over-analysis (which feels like getting started, but there’s no traction once the overwhelm kicks in).
Apathy also requires Pollyanna thinking about how circumstances will be favourable in the promised land that is ‘someday’ – the land of lottery wins, good hair days and care-free existence.
Dr. Piers Steel, a procrastination expert, suggests using the concept of mental contrast. Consider the reality of where you are with your dream – the reality that includes watching dancing Chihuahuas – and contrast it to where you would like it to be.
How would your day need to look to get what you want?
Get really, really honest about all the slow leaks that are smothering your dream.
It’s not rocket science, but it is powerful.
Getting clear on how you’re farting around can really help to flip the toggle switch in your brain to ‘Committed.’
Am I in, or not in? Am I a hell-yes, or a maybe-someday?
Yoda says, ‘Do or do not do. There is no try.’
I’m with the little guy.