So why bother? Why indeed.
If something gets your goat, why not give up? If you can’t be arsed, why get out of bed at all? Easy to play high and mighty about this but I bet there’s not a person alive who hasn’t felt like that at some point. We are only human – stress and anxiety make us want to crawl away to some dark place and never come out, let alone come back fighting for even more punishment. Yet, like a punch-drunk fighter at the 15th bell, more by instinct than judgement, there we are.
In my case, coming to the last week of a client assignment in Warwick was hard work. The expectation of making any material difference to how things were done had long since evaporated. The hopes and dreams of the early days had been replaced by a longing to get the 12 weeks work over and done with, and to get home and move on to the next life event. But this week, here I am looking for the next client work, simply because I need to keep earning and to sound bright and breezy.
Nobody wants just to go through the motions either – it would be far better to do something for the love of it than struggle against the odds doing something you hate. If you don’t see the point of doing something you won’t be motivated to do it at all, let alone do it well, yet so often we are obliged to play silly games by doing tasks in a set way at the behest of someone, possibly but not necessarily an employer, because that’s what expected. Money might keep you there, though there are many elaborate rituals we follow for many reasons.
So while you may normally be motivated, wake bright-eyed an bushy-tailed, there are days when you wake up stressed, anxious and miserable. You have to face your fears head-on but can barely drag yourself out of bed, let alone look the devil in the eye. Then again there may be no stress at all, you generally feel so down about the status quo that you really struggle to get anything done – not unrelated to the torpor that comes through ennui, though it could also be argued that you were being too lazy to bother. And let’s face it, there is strong evidence that we are all becoming far more sedentary than we were in years past. We have convenience gadgets to do tasks we used to complete by hand, and constant distractions like TV, games machines, computers, music boxes and what not. By rights we ought to be more active.
Of course, the Why Bother? argument can be applied to anything you like, and if we did apply it to everything we would do nothing ever – we wouldn’t get out of bed. I’m quite sure there are people who genuinely can’t be bothered, but unlike the government I really don’t believe it is true of 99% of benefit claimants; that is a myth propagated by the Daily Mail and others.
At the other end of the scale are those whose energy and metabolism is non-stop, and who generally find it tough to stop their dynamo revolving. My problem is always shutting off my constantly active mind, which maybe contributes to the fact that I find some drudge jobs mundane, though on other occasions I am inspired and do work hard on stuff. My argument was always that even if you can force yourself to do the least desirable jobs, you will still tend to do first those things that give you the greatest pleasure – which is why there are some household jobs that get left to the last minute, while I seldom if ever neglect my writing.
I’m not one of life’s gardeners, for instance, though I recognise that others get endless pleasure from so doing, and indeed I do like the finished results of home-grown veg, so if the time is available I do often plant stuff to reap the benefits. I do tend to save up ironing to watch while there is a good DVD on – but then at least I do it, unlike many people, most of whom would probably argue “why bother?” My answer would be twofold: I do it because it was instilled in me as a teenager by my parents that you always iron clothes in order to look neat, presentable and professional; and because I take pride in the job, even if it gives no pleasure.
But even if there are some people who generally achieve more through sheer application and self-discipline, the people with the strongest work ethic have their can’t-be-bothered moments too. But then, should you really force yourself because jobs need to be done? There is a happy medium – a work-life balance, but procrastinating continuously is bad bad bad. You choose the right job for the right moment, but then do it with all your heart. I will admit my moment of terror is often reserved for contacting HMRC, and I doubt if I am alone in that regard!
So what’s the antidote to Why Bother?, other than sheer force of will? Does there have to be a reward or can you gain the necessary sense of satisfaction merely from having done the work? It’s about being positive and can-do, not finding reasons to be negative. And since you will ultimately feel far better and get more endorphins flowing in your brain from positive action than negative inaction, I can think of no better reason to care and make an effort – even if that means overcoming the negative reactions of others in the process. That is the most rewarding conversion of all!