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Guard Against “It Doesn’t Matter”

Guard Against “It Doesn’t Matter”


    I have been reading quite a few books and blogs about writing non-fiction articles recently, putting the styling techniques and grammar tips into practice. I have also been reading more novels to expand my imagination and hopefully, vocabulary, so I might aptly describe what I would like to. I was on a quest to become a more prolific writer.

    So as I drafted a few articles for newspapers, I applied the lessons I learnt and set about editing and re-writing my drafts. I was quite pleased with my efforts and satisfied I had done my best. I decided to leave one of the articles overnight and come back to it one last time the next day with a fresh eye before submitting it to the editor.

    The next morning, I turned on my computer again and expected to run quickly through the article, smile at myself, and attach it to the email to send off.

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    However, I was caught by deflated surprise. Suddenly, I found a number of flaws in the logic and argument. There were typos everywhere, and the writing sounded dull. The article didn’t sound too interesting anymore. I was almost on the verge of tears and was tempted to write to my editor and tell her my dog ate the draft.

    I said to myself, “It’s just an article and it doesn’t matter if I didn’t get printed this time.”

    Julia Cameron warns against this mentality in her book, The Artist’s Way, a book to guide others to discover their creativity.

    Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along in it, and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit. It’s no longer worth the trouble. To therapists, this surge of sudden disinterest (“It doesn’t matter”) is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.

    Indeed, it was my way of avoiding the disappointment I felt about my work. I also did not want to spend extra time and effort to further polishing the article. I didn’t want to deal with the perceived obstacle, nor admit that my confidence in the draft is shattered. Suddenly it seemed that the whole world could write better than me.

    I found as many excuses as I could:

    • There were more proficient writers
    • My topic was boring
    • Others could write the same topic so it didn’t matter if I submitted my draft or not
    • No one would read what I wrote
    • I won’t die if I didn’t write
    • There was no point in trying to become a writer

    Self-doubt blinded my passion for writing. The effort required to reach the goal I set for myself seemed too much for my psyche to bear.

    I consoled myself that even if I didn’t reach the goal, it doesn’t matter.

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    And with that, my enthusiasm and energy slowly dwindled away. I was establishing a defensive wall around my self-doubt.

    This is why many of us never write that book, or that guest post, or paint that picture or design that graphic.


    We think: it doesn’t matter. But it does – even if only for ourselves

    I finally picked up my weary soul and went about editing the article. It took me another 2 hours, but after I sent it off to the Editor, I felt good about myself, that I had conquered the self-doubt in me.

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    Next time you find yourself saying “it doesn’t matter” – stop yourself, and focus doubly hard on that exact task you think doesn’t matter. For it does, and each little step you spur yourself on will create all that difference in life.

    That article I submitted led to a subsequent invitation to write again, and again…and now I write regularly for that paper.

    It does matter.

    (Photo credit: Tower on Beach via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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