The Power of Trudging

"To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on. " — The Character "Chaucer" in the movie A Knight's Tale

Sometimes clients talk to me about being completely stuck when they are in the middle, or even towards the end of a project. They feel completely unmotivated and find numerous ways to stall on making progress.

They ask me for ways to get inspiration so they can carry on. I do answer their question about inspiration and I also remind them of the power of trudging.

Here are five ways for trudging to help in the times that inspiration is failing.

  • Leap to the end. Oh, how often we have found a way to makes things more complex than they need to be? Try leaping to the end. Ask yourself what the key thing that really needs to be done is. Do that as simply as possible. Tomorrow you can look to see if more is needed. (Even in a long, larger project, you can leap to the end and do key thing that will be needed. This is energizing!)
  • Get a running partner for a specific hour. When I have committed to doing a run with someone else at 6:00 AM, I have never missed it. No matter how miserable I felt or how miserable the weather was. In other words, commit to doing some piece of what has to be done with someone who can help. They can at least sit there staring at you until it is done!
  • Break it into pieces. Do pieces. Sometimes even tasks as small as "two hours" can seem overwhelming. I find that people can do almost anything for 15 minutes. So instead of, for example, writing the whole essay, leap to the end and just write the conclusion. Or write the middle key paragraph. You get the idea. Make a small commitment and do it.
  • Create a "trudge music playlist." I have one of these for some of the types of work I find especially difficult to focus on. The playlist is designed to be 15 minutes long with very familiar music with a driving beat. Whenever I play this list it helps me get in the zone. I am almost always surprised when the last song plays.
  • Practice the art of simply trudging. As Chaucer did, just put one foot in front of the other.

Inspiration is a gift that can power your days. The better one gets at trudging, the more often that gift of inspiration is bestowed.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT