Who Do You Think of While You Work?

Writing is something that I often find challenging.

I don't mean writing well - I mean writing at all.

How can that be possible? It's just putting thoughts on a page.

When I have a conversation with someone about topics I care about what I want to say flows freely without hesitation. When I sit down to write and start typing, it can often feel like I'm trying to run with a parachute strapped to my back.

What's the difference between a one on one conversation and putting out writing publicly?


A few moments ago I was exploring another article idea, happily typing away, when a vision came to my mind, totally out of my control:

I thought of a guy I know from my college days who is generally unimpressed by 'personal development' and was never particularly supportive of the direction I was going in my life.

My brain started thinking, "I wonder what he would think if he read this. He would probably think it's so stupid. Imagine if he read this and I saw him at a reunion or something..."

I barely realized I was thinking these things but my writing slowed down until I eventually stopped completely.

I became aware that something changed and asked myself, "What just happened, why don't I feel like writing anymore?"

"...Because I was thinking about that guy!"

Woah, WTF?

Logically it is completely insane that my pure imaginations of what a guy that I am not particularly close to might think about my writing would have any impact on my productivity.

But it did and more often than not, I don't even notice it happening.


When we do work that we care about, that we feel reflects who we are and that we know others will see, we think of those people as we go.

If I am really aware of my mind as I write or program I notice that there is often a stream of people that appear:

  • My parents excited to see what I'm thinking and up to
  • Clients I want to look good in front of
  • Friends I imagined motivated as they read my thoughts
  • My buddies from college who I imagine thinking I'm weird (even though they're generally really supportive)
  • People who thought I shouldn't have dropped out of school

These thoughts are often extremely motivating so my argument isn't that they are bad - simply that they are powerful, positive or negative, and often happen under the radar.

Use the Force

The beauty of discovering an under-the-radar force is that you become aware of a new tool you can use to control your mental state.

If who we think about influences how we feel while we work, what if we can actively think about those that are motivating forces as much as possible.

Imagine your excited reader - the person who really needs what you're writing about.

Imagine the once-naysayer who realizes you're the real deal and comes around to becoming a supporter.

Imagine the people who have had your back all these years, that love to see where you've been going with their support.

As I write this and think of all those people, I am literally getting pumped up - I'm going to go write some more.

This shit works.

(I just imagined my grandma reading my article with the word 'shit' in it).


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