When we face hard shit, it’s like climbing a mountain: you can’t do it all at once. It has to start with a single step. That’s all you can do right now: the next step in front of you. Lots of people give up because they think it’s too much work, it’s too hard, they’ll never get there. The people who actually climb the mountain just take the first step, and get on with it.
When faced with doing the small step, many people will decide whether to do the task based on how they feel: We feel overwhelmed or stressed, so we procrastinate & seek distraction. We feel tired, so we put it off. We feel unmotivated, so we wait until motivation comes. We feel uncertainty, so we do something that feels easier. We feel self-doubt, so we decide it’s not worth doing. We feel bad that we haven’t been doing it, so we avoid even thinking about it.
A big goal for a lot of people is to get better at focus. And this is a worthwhile skill to practice. But more important than that is to learn to focus on the /right/ things. If you got really good at focusing, but you focused on unimportant stuff, you’d finish a year without anything meaningful accomplished. This is what a lot of people do: they learn to focus, but don’t take on the hard or scary things.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of setting up the right environment for yourself, if you want to find focus and do hard shit. Humans are more influenced by our environment than we’d like to admit to ourselves: if there’s a lot of junk food around, we’ll be likely to eat it. If there are a lot of distractions, we’re likely to lose focus. On the other side, we can create an environment that makes it more likely that we’ll be focused and stick with something for the long term.
OK, you’ve set up your environment and you are ready to focus on the right thing … the problem now is that you might not feel motivated to do it! How to deal with the problem of motivation? It’s helpful here to talk about the distinction between “empowered” & “disempowered”: Empowered is when you feel energized & inspired to take action. You feel you have something you can do to change things.