The fictional hooligan Tom Sawyer once tricked his friends into whitewashing a fence for him, by making it out to be a fun and appealing task.
As practical jokes go, that’s an awfully kind-hearted one. Convincing people to enjoy something – how devilish!
“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”
But this is a double-edged sword – what happens when you become obliged to play?
Introducing Tom’s evil twin, Mot Reywas
Mot Reywas is the fictional hooligan who plagues pathfinders, heart-followers, and entrepreneurs who do what they love for a living.
Mot is the one who spies you joyously whitewashing the fence of your dreams, saunters over to you, and casually remarks, “You’re not supposed to enjoy whitewashing that fence. It’s work, you know.”
3… 2… 1… DOUBTSPLOSION!
Listen to Mot, and you’ll soon be overcome by doubt, drudgery, and dread.
You’ll become your own boss, but you’ll treat yourself like a lazy, selfish, untrustworthy employee. You’ll treat yourself so badly that yourself will want to quit.
How to stop Mot Reywas from sucking the joy out of things you used to love
Mot Reywas is the voice of our culture that says,
“Obligations are not fun. You must fulfill your duties, commitments, and obligations because it’s the right thing to do. Doing the right thing is not supposed to be fun.”
This is an insidious and dangerous voice. Luckily, it’s utterly false. You can disprove it yourself in one minute.
How to deny Mot Reywas in just one minute
Do these 4 steps right now. It’s fun and easy, and it’ll only take a minute.
Step 1: Think of something fun and easy, something that you could do right now. I’m thinking of eating a square of vegan dark chocolate.
Step 2: Publicly commit to doing it one minute from now. I’m writing this at 8:50pm, so I’m going to post on Facebook right now, “I hereby commit to eating a square of vegan dark chocolate at 8:51 today.”
Step 3: Notice how you feel during the minute of anticipating your obligation. You must follow through. You’re committed and publicly accountable. If you notice yourself dreading your commitment because you’re obligated to do it, remind yourself how much fun it will be. This helps break down the “obligations aren’t fun” block.
Step 4: Follow through on your commitment, and enjoy!
And in the future, when you find yourself dreading an obligation to do something you love, remind yourself that love trumps obligation.
To remind myself of this, I write “LOVE” next to every single appointment on my calendar and every single item on my to-do list that I will love doing.
Mot Reywas can go whitewash his own fence.