The Most Powerful Way to Get Unstuck

Have you ever thought about why you get stuck?

I’m sure you have. There are entire industries built around productivity. There are multitudes of books, seminars, webinars, podcasts, blog posts, desktop apps, email apps, mobile apps, and physical products centered around helping you get things done. They are supposed to help you get unstuck, right? Because if you weren’t stuck, you wouldn’t need any of those things to keep you going.

But what if you didn’t need any of those things? What if you could solve all of your “problems” with getting things done with one simple question?

So the question is: Do I care?

Sure, sometimes you may have to do things you don’t really care to do. You probably don’t care much for cleaning litter boxes and filing your taxes. That’s a given. But we’re talking about the big things here, like the work you devote your life to.

Do you care about it? Be honest with yourself. Do you really care?

If you don’t care, allow that to be okay. At least you’re acknowledging the fact that you don’t care. Now you know that it’s not a water-tight productivity system you need to get you motivated. What you need is work that you give a damn about.

The first step is allowing yourself to not care and being honest with what you do care about it. That’s where most people get stuck. A lot of people spend their lives working on things they don’t care about, because they think it doesn’t matter that they don’t care. They think they’re supposed to suck it up and deal with it. Are you one of these people that believes it doesn’t matter if you don’t care about your work? It’s okay if you are. I used to be this way, too.

Then I realized something.


I discovered that not only is it valid to care about the work you do, it’s absolutely necessary. I used to think that you didn’t have a choice, or that doing work you love was some kind of luxury for the retired or gifted. And you know why? Because we’re taught that we can’t get paid to be ourselves. We’re taught that we need to become something in order to earn a paycheck.

Here’s some refreshing news: That’s an assumption.

More refreshing still: Just because a huge number of people believe in an assumption, doesn’t mean it’s true.

A lot of people once assumed the world was flat. And a lot of people now assume that work and play are not meant to coexist, that life must be a struggle. But the simple fact is, your life is a gift. To spend that gift in drudgery and grim duty is a waste.

So here’s the question you might want to ask now: How can I do what I care about?

Here are a few suggestions:

If you allow yourself to stop caring about the things you don’t really care about, something amazing will start to happen. Once you move out all that attentional garbage, you finally create room for the things you love to take up residence in your life.

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind.  For more unconventional ideas, grab a subscription to Illuminated Mind.