7 Top Tips for Getting the Tough Stuff Done


In Mindful Mondays we show up at the beginning of every week with the intention of actively creating the week ahead. We make plans and we choose a guiding principle to keep us grounded. We celebrate our joys and achievements and we wrestle with the stuff that gets in the way.

A couple of weeks ago someone asked how I handle that moment when you simply need to get something done, something tough, something you really don’t want to face or do. You know that thing – that thing you put on your list week after week after week but just never manage to tackle. We all have those things.

Every project, every dream, every life is rich with things to do. Some of those things are wonderful (like the joy of packaging up the #first100 yearbooks) and some, well, some are tough. When facing those tough tasks I think of the season of Journal Club when Horse was our animal guide. We quickly discovered that Horse was often very direct. If you were facing something challenging, Horse was likely to nudge you in the back with a clear message: “Get to it.”

But how do you get to it?

Here are my 7 Top Tips for Getting the Tough Stuff Done

1. Do Every Little Thing

In almost any situation there are lots of little and easy things you can do before you tackle the big one. You can find the phone number. You can print the application. You can turn on the computer. Any little thing related to the main task counts.

Taking care of the relevant little things is not avoidance or procrastination. It is the on ramp. It gives you the opportunity to build momentum, gain confidence and it makes the tough thing itself a little lighter because before you know it so much of the task is already done.

2. Make It Easier

Everything you can possibly do to make the task easier, do it. Ask for help. Get a friend to drive. Book it first thing in the morning. Get extra sleep. Break it into baby steps. Do anything and everything you can to make this tough task easier.

3. Envision Yourself on the Other Side

You’ve done tough stuff before. You know from experience how much better you will feel when you’ve got this done. Imagine yourself there, sleeping better, feeling freer, crossing this helluva to-do off your list.

4. Get It Over With

You’ve done every little thing. You’ve made it as easy as it can be. There’s only one thing left to do and that’s to get it done. Make it fast. Get it over with. End the cycle of worry and avoidance. It undermines your confidence and keeps you suffering. Now is the time to listen to Horse. Do it.

5. Rest and Recover

You did some heavy lifting there. Maybe it wasn’t as hard as you expected. Maybe it was harder. One thing is for sure it took a lot of effort on your part. Breathe. Nap. Take some quiet time. Let your energy find equilibrium again.

6. Acknowledge/Celebrate

Give yourself some kudos. That was a big deal. And, by the way, it doesn’t have to look like a big deal to anyone else. Only you know what it took to get that thing done – and you did it. Gold star for you! Do a happy dance. Have a hot chocolate. Play a song you love and look at the stars. You did good. Celebrate!

7. Remember

Don’t just go on to the next thing on your list. Take a moment to notice how it feels to get the tough stuff done. Feel it in your body. Notice the energy that’s been freed. Remember this for next time, the way it feels on the other side of tough. And remember too (because you have given yourself direct proof of this fact) that you, Jamie are capable of hard things.

Creativity, Money & Time

On Tuesday & Friday mornings I invite you Behind the Scenes at my studio.

Today: Well, I thought I’d tackle some light topics today – creativity, money and time. What happens when you put money-making pressure on your art too soon? What can support you in getting there healthily and well?

Mentioned in Today’s Show

The Power of Discontent

I try to start each day with some writing. Sometimes I pour my heart into my journal pages. Sometimes, with the clickety-clack of the keyboard, I get my ideas flowing out of my head and onto the screen.

Sometimes these words are wonderings about life, art, the universe.

Sometimes they are gatherings of memories, inspirations and to-dos.

Sometimes they are celebrations of moments, achievements and joy.

Sometimes (more often than I care to admit) they are grumblings about worries, challenges and discontent.

This morning, it was discontent: “Look at all the things I want to be doing that I’m not doing! Look at all the things I need to do that aren’t getting done!! Why does time move so fast?!! What am I doing with my time??!”

GRRRAAARRRGGGGHHH!!!

It would be so easy to close the document and walk away, so easy to grab some chocolate and put on Netflix instead. Honestly? I’ve done that plenty of times. It’s only human to want distraction or soothing when we’re feeling grumbley. But this time I did something different: I made lists. I let my discontent spur me on.

Lists of Desires & Discontent*

  • Things I want to be doing more of – big and small
  • Things I’m not doing that I know would be good for me, even if they are uncomfortable or hard at the outset
  • Dreamy things (i.e. things that would be ​so awesome​ but seem ​out of reach)
  • Things I could be doing less of to make room for the above

Seeing my discontent, my desires and my choices laid out so clearly was both illuminating and energizing! I literally found myself sitting up taller and taller as I wrote. That GRRRAAARRRGGGHHH energy was channeled into information – information that I could use to make changes. Which led to another uncomfortable moment…

I ​have to make changes? What? 

GRRRAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

The thing is, when we feel discontent, we are usually very clear that we want/need ​something ​to change but that’s very different from wanting to make changes ourselves. In fact, there are inevitably things on our list that seem or are unchangeable. There are things we have little or no control over. For those things, I recommend having a conversation with the Universe, “Hey, U, do you see all this? Can you give me a hand here? I would so appreciate it.” (You can talk more reverently to the Universe. This is the just the way we are chatting these days.)

Once you’ve done that, start doing what you ​can ​do. ​Pick something, anything. Pick the first thing, the easiest thing, the hardest thing, the smallest thing, a random thing. Pick any thing and make a start. Don’t fret about what you can’t do until you’ve done all you can. Remember, you’ve already enlisted the Universe’s help for that stuff and she doesn’t like it when you micro-manage, especially when you’ve already admitted you don’t know how to do the job! Focus on your own work. Make a change. You will be surprised how much becomes clearer along the way.