Why you can’t just do it, and what to do instead

When I was writing my PhD I didn’t have bad weeks. I had bad months. The kind when each day you wake up thinking, “Today I will actually do the thing” and then you… don’t. Somehow the day ticks by and then it’s 11 pm and you still haven’t done the thing and it feels like you might as well go to bed and start over tomorrow, but already you have a sinking horrible sense that you won’t do it then either. And lo, the cycle repeats.

It doesn’t…


It’s time to think about self-transformation in a different way

Several years ago, I was on an academic fellowship and pretty sure I was failing at it.

I’d envisioned myself getting to my office early every day, spending several hours virtuously writing, and then knocking off at 3 p.m. for a run. Instead, I was lying awake all night agonising over everything I’d said that day, sleeping until 11, and rolling into my office just in time for lunch.

By the time I got to my desk at around 2, I’d be drowning in self-recrimination. My office — this hard-won space I’d been so excited to occupy — now felt…


We don’t give up on our goals because we feel bad. We give up because of what we think feeling bad means. Here’s how to think differently.

Let’s say there’s a task that’s really important to you, but somehow you can’t seem to work on it. You’ve tried a lot of solutions, but nothing seems to help.

Then one day, you stumble across something that seems like it could actually make a difference. Maybe it’s my post on internal resistance. Maybe it’s someone else’s writing or podcast or whatever.

When this happens, we start to feel a tiny bit of…


Just because it’s not good at steering or navigating doesn’t mean you need to leave it by the side of the road.

Lately I’ve noticed my women clients saying things like “I know that’s just my ego talking” or “I know I shouldn’t care about the compliment, because that’s just ego…”.

And I get the impulse, because I share it. I’ve experienced first hand how unrewarding ego-driven accomplishment becomes in the long run, so I get why my overachieving clients are concerned about letting their egos steer. …


Everything we value in the lives we currently have rests in part on past bad decisions.

Is there anyone who doesn’t have a time or phase of their lives they regret? Something that they can’t quite forgive themselves for?

For me and many women I know, it’s stuff from our chaotic late teens and early 20s. A lot of us came into adulthood like an asteroid entering the atmosphere, burning up our own selves and everything in our path. …


Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

There’s a quote that makes the rounds on social media that asks something like, “Remember when you desperately wanted to be where you are right now?”

Although I get the point, I always found this question annoying. The implication seemed to be that as soon as we notice that we’ve gotten where we were trying to go, we will automatically know how to find the destination satisfying.

Maybe that works for some people, but to me it was more like a restatement of the problem than a solution. Like: yes, I thought being an academic and publishing books would make…


How do we measure the value of individual growth and aspiration in a moment of mass collective crisis?

By personal development, I don’t mean self-care or seeking support for your mental health. I think the point of those in the present is pretty obvious. Who couldn’t use some help just maintaining the status quo right now?

But unlike self-care or therapy, personal development is fundamentally aspirational. It’s not about making the status quo survivable; it’s about taking big leaps into something else or something more. For one person, it might mean going to a meditation retreat, for someone else it…


The best life coaches teach clients to accept the full range of human emotion. So why do we all show up with the same relentlessly positive tone?

Image by Lucija Rasonja from Pixabay

The tone of the mindset-coaching world is relentlessly upbeat. Which seems to make sense, given that mindset coaching promises to give you power over how you experience the world. Why would someone promise that they can help you feel better, and then turn around and also tell you that they feel fucking terrible? It wouldn’t exactly be good advertising.

But it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. In general mindset-coaching tools enable…


Because we could all use a reminder that dark times eventually end

Image by Mysticsartdesign

The first time I did something to mark the winter solstice, I wrote down everything I wanted to leave behind in 2016 on little sticky notes and burned them in my cast iron skillet. (This destroyed the skillet, by the way — definitely do NOT do that.) I am not a religious or spiritual person so I felt a bit awkward setting this up. Like I was playing Druid or something.

But living where it gets dark at 3:30 pm in December taught me to love the winter…


Here’s what to do instead

Most of us believe some version of the expression, “you catch more flies with honey” when it comes to other people.

We wouldn’t try to get a kid to work harder in school by telling them they’re stupid. We wouldn’t train a dog with smacks instead of treats. If we wanted someone to take on a project, we wouldn’t start by reminding them of all the ways they’ve failed at similar things in the past.

But when it comes to the inside of our own heads, this knowledge goes right out the fucking window. Because…

Jane Elliott PhD

Coach | Academic | Writer. There will be swearing.

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