Evidence of a “Force-Based” System of Working

Many of us engage in force-based systems of work and don’t even realize it.

In another video, I described an example: we have a report due at the end of the week, but then somehow, inadvertently we find ourselves doing just about anything else until the deadline approaches, at which point we kick into high gear. What’s going on?

While it seems that we could have started at any time, the entire system was not built for that.

Instead, it is one based in hope, fear, and then force.

Our hope might begin that we’ll get it done in time, well before the deadline. But many more hopes join. We can hope that:

  • We would “feel like” doing it
  • We’ll remember
  • We’ll finish on time
  • We won’t be distracted along the way
  • The deadline will kick us into gear
  • The deadline will be extended
  • The project/exam/whatever would be canceled or forgotten about
  • Other things won’t suddenly show up or be due as well

Each of these hopes, then have a corresponding fear. For example, we can fear that the deadline won’t be extended.

And especially with a history of the same process happening again and again, our fears are often justified.

In fact, in a force-based system, we often wind up using that fear to our advantage. We let it build until we can no longer contain it, at which point we work.

We often use some combination of:

“I need a deadline to work.” and “I’m fine.”

to describe it.

For example, when we say “I’m fine” or we tell ourselves that we can “relax, it’s not due yet,” we’re only applying a damper, a break pedal of sorts, that helps manage the feelings of anxiety until the damn bursts. At that point, the fears overwhelm everything else, and we begin.

Maybe we even use that fear as a stimulation to help find focus – we know what’s important to focus on. Everything else can be dropped for the time being.

When Something Feels Missing

That you resort to force through fear implies that you don’t have the confidence to make things happen by your own power, in your time.

Maybe you feel you don’t have the “willpower”, “discipline”, or maybe a brain chemical like dopamine to make things happen.

Whatever symbol or metaphor you want to use, it’s about a sense that you cannot make a decision and act from that decision.

Even if you are deliberately waiting until the deadline for that pressure, the implication is that you need an external source to engage, something to force you into action.

Either way, we are often left with a helpless feeling. And this helplessness is just the start of an exhausting cascade.

– Kourosh

PS If you haven’t checked it out yet, consider downloading the free PDF: “Your First Step to Breaking Free from Force-Based Work”