I Know What I Need to Do — I Just Can’t Make Myself Do It

Here’s an example of the kind of letter I frequently receive from my clients:

I know what I need to do, I just can’t make myself do it. I watch endless YouTube videos, I play computer solitaire, I fool around on Facebook — I even scrub my kitchen floors — all just to avoid the work that I know is my destiny. I get so mad at myself. Am I chasing a shadow goal? What do I do? — Elizabeth

Here’s what I would say to Elizabeth, and to you, since chances are fairly high you are dealing with the same concerns:

Rest easy, honey — you are merely suffering from a biological imperative called “displacement activity.”

Displacement activity is what happens when an animal is in the grip of two conflicting instincts, and so it enacts a third, seemingly inappropriate behavior.

For example, you’ve probably seen a chimpanzee being challenged by another chimpanzee. When the first chimp doesn’t know whether to run away or fight, he might scratch his head. . .yawn. . . look away. . . start grooming himself.

Seems like a very passive response to aggression, but that chimp will do anything to deflect the energy, avoid making a decision, and otherwise make himself as invisible as possible.

When you have the instinct to create and you simultaneously have the instinct not to create, your fear says, “Don’t do it!” And so, confused by these two equally strong instincts, you shut down and get stuck playing an online word game for hours on end.Sometimes years.

It doesn’t mean you have low self-esteem, and it doesn’t mean your dream is impossible, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re lazy.

So the next time this happens, just recognize the dynamic without yelling at yourself.

“Ah,” you might say instead, “I appear to be having the instinct to create something. And I also find myself feeling afraid of what will happen if I create that thing.

Perfectly natural.

But my fear does not get to make my decisions for me.  So I will now set my kitchen timer for fifteen minutes and just play around with my creative idea in a light, fun, beta-testing sort of a way and then see what happens.”

Spend fifteen minutes right now playing around with your favorite project.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get a C

Don’t Be Afraid to Get a C

Some years ago I was suffering from some fairly extreme anxiety.

One of the ways the anxiety manifested was that I felt like I was being constantly graded.

During every meal I cooked, every parallel-parking job, every audition, every everything, I felt like someone, somewhere, was monitoring my every move and keeping track in a big notebook about how well or, more often, how poorly I was executing my life.


So I decided that if I could not disabuse myself of the idea that I was being graded, then I would just try to get a C — which is the grade you get for showing up and doing the work.

Not doing the work better than everyone else, not doing extra-credit work — just showing up and doing the work.

I was quite pleased with this idea, and I shared it with my sister during one of our almost-daily phone conversations. She agreed that it sounded like a jim-dandy strategy and wished me luck with it.

Then we went on to discuss the real topic of our conversation that day: our father had moved into a new apartment and we wanted to send him a housewarming gift. I said I would take care of it.

A day or two later we were on the phone again and she asked me if I’d sent anything to Dad yet.

“Well, no,” I explained, “because I want to get him something nice but still within our budget, and I was thinking about something for his kitchen although he already has quite a bit of kitchen stuff so maybe there ’s a better idea if we do some sheets or maybe towels, maybe monogrammed, or —”

“Sam!” my sister interrupted. “Get a C — send a plant.”

Ah, the pure ring of truth!

Ten minutes later I had spent less than fifty bucks at an online flower delivery website for a handsome dieffenbachia plant, and the next day my father called both of us to say thank you and to tell us how lucky he felt to have such thoughtful daughters.

Here’s the point: my desire to find the perfect thing for my father was preventing me from finding anything for my father.

My willingness to take the budget-friendly, obvious option (a houseplant) allowed me to do what we really wanted to do to begin with, which was just let our dad know that we loved him and hoped he was happy in his new digs.

There are two more reasons you can afford to get a C.

One, your version of a C is probably everybody else ’s version of an A.

Two, if you get your work out there and then find that it needs to be made more perfect, well, then, you’ll improve it, right?

That’s how you roll.

How is your desire to do the perfect thing getting in the way of your doing anything?

The What If…Workshop

The What If…Workshop

The What If…Workshop: where imagination meets practicality. It’s only $147 and it starts next week 11/18/13 — check it out here (link funky? try pasting this into your browser: https://sambennett.infusionsoft.com/app/orderForms/What-IfWorkshop )

And I’m so excited about this new class that I wrote you a poem…

What If…

This last year was the year
for sure
where you were
getting organized
getting the book done
getting the clutter cleared
starting yoga – again –
and really connecting with your
Inner Voice.
Really figuring out what you really want.
Really asking for it.
Really getting it.

But it seems like every time you tried to
make a move
someone needed you
there was a crisis
the dog got sick and
the roof broke open and
he lost his job and
those tests at the hospital what a
long night that was and
the money just wasn’t there – again –

And then
and then
and then
the voices in your head got started:

Who Do You Think You Are, Anyway?
Everyone’s Already Doing That.
You’re Not Qualified.
The Technology Is Too Hard.
You Never Finish Anything Anyway.

And so you stand there with the crumpled remains of a year in your hands.

Your hands that ache
to write
to play
to draw
to dance
to work
to share
to shape
to cut
to color
to create.

Your heart cries out.
Your hands cry out.
Please don’t let it be too late.


It’s not too late.
It’s never too late.
As long as you draw breath,
it cannot be too late.

Start now.
Write one sentence right now.
Keep one promise to yourself right now.
Do something just for you right now.
Be undistractible.

Because this is your year for sure.

©2013 Sam Bennett

The What If…Workshop

Where imagination meets practicality: dreaming, prioritizing and doing for creative wackadoodle geniuses like you and me.

4 sessions:
Monday, Nov. 18 – Monday, Dec. 9
5pm PT/8pm ET

– You do not have to be there in person.

– All sessions are recorded & available for download so you can listen again & again.

– Call in from wherever you are OR listen online.

– This ALL-NEW curriculum is perfect for you if:

You want to get clear about what you should do next & the “next steps” that will get you there.

You want to get out of your own way.

You are sick of perfectionism blocking your happiness & productivity.

You’re ready to quit doing things the same old way and try something new.

You’re in the mood to experiment.

You’ve been meaning to take a workshop with me, but it just hasn’t been the right time, right offer or right price up to now.

And of course, satisfaction is guaranteed or your tuition cheerfully refunded.

—> find out more about The What If…Workshop here

Did I mention that it’s only $147?

See, that’s because I know I’ve been offering a lot of higher-end stuff this year, and it was important to me to close out this year with a no-brainer offer that anyone, at any level, could participate in and get GREAT BENEFIT from.

Let me know what you think about it, hm? After all, YOU all are my “market research” : ) and your feedback really matters to me.

—> find out more about The What If…Workshop here (click now because it starts next week! EEEP!)

P.S. What’s YOUR “What If…”? I bet you could help a lot of people by sharing it in the comments below….

Big Wheel

Big Wheel

Zone of Genius.
Being in Flow.
Work That Doesn’t Feel Like Work.

Creative people have a special talent for getting into the groove of a project and surfing the energy of it for hours and hours.

In this state of creative flow, there is no such thing as fear, procrastination, anxiety or self-doubt — there is only the joy of the work.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could make money from that same joyful place?

How much money would you like to be bringing in?

How much time would you like to spend each week on your art?

How many people do you think you could help if you were to create this life?

I know it’s possible, because I’ve done it.

And I’d like to help you do it.

Join The 94th Percentile
    • Only 6% of entrepreneurs ever make it to six-figures. (I’m one of them.)

Less than 10% of actors ever earn more than $10,000/year acting. (I’m one of them.)

Selling over 200 copies of a book of poetry makes it a “best-seller.” (I’ve done well over that.)

Less than 2% of completed manuscripts ever get a publishing contract. (I’ve done that.)

Now, these statistics are debatable, but even so, if you read them the wrong way you might come to believe that I am some kind of superwoman.

Not so.

I succeeded at those things because I had an idea and didn’t stop working until I made that idea a reality.

I succeeded because I was undistractible.

I succeeded because I didn’t know what I was doing was impossible.

Luckily, impossible things happen every day.

The truth I see is this:

The Odds Have Nothing To Do With Your Probability of Success

Odds are important when it comes to things that involve mathematical certainty – not creative success.

Once you are actually getting your work out into the world, the idea of “odds” becomes completely immaterial.

Conventional wisdom matters when you are doing conventional things.

Creativity and entrepreneurship are, by definition, the opposite of conventional.

Logic applies to things that obey the rules of logic.

Art and love and creative success is anything but logical.

So get those negative voices OUT of your head.

You CAN succeed doing what you love.

You CAN make money doing what you love.

You CAN create a life that is perfect for you.

Reinventing the Wheel

The problem is that no one ever taught you how to take control of your creative power and use it to help people & make money.

Some of you may have even been taught that making art was “selfish” and a sure-fire way to become a “starving artist.” I say: HOOEY.

There is plenty of money and success and joy in the world for those who want to go get it.

And I think you might be one of those people.

What If I Gave You My System and We Customized It For You?

What if we could spend the day together here in Southern California (somewhere around Los Angeles or Santa Barbara) and together we could make a plan for you to:

– bring in at least $1,500/month doing work you love

– have a marketing plan that feels like a party

– schedule your time so you get plenty of rest, meditation and exercise

I’m opening up a few spaces in my calendar for some select individuals to join me for a Big Wheel VIP Day.

We’ll meet in a swanky hotel room (my treat and of course you’ll stay the night : ) and talk, work, have lunch, work some more and by the middle of the afternoon, we’ll have created a fun, workable plan for you to execute over the next 3 months.

I’ll also give you monthly follow-up calls plus email support.

Does this sound interesting to you?

I urge you to fill out the no-obligation application HERE

Even if you have no intention of ever doing this VIP day thing, the act of answering the quesions can be VERY ILLUMINATING. And I promise I won’t care if you fill it out and then never take another step. No worries.

Once my team gets your application, we’ll review it and if it seems like a good fit, we’ll invite you to have a 20-minute Big Wheel Evaluation Session with me.

MY PROMISE: I will not let you invest in this day with me unless I’m pretty confident we can create something at least as good as the plan I’ve outlined above. If I don’t think you’re ready, I won’t let you book it. Fair deal?

Willing to Take One Small Step?

I want you to fill out the no-obligation application HERE — and then, if you decide you’re really interested, we’ll talk about whether or not it’s the right move for you.

Thank you for reading.

And please leave a comment below to let me know how all this strikes you — I’m very interested in your reaction to this offer.

P.S. Here’s the reason I’m excited about offering the Big Wheel VIP Day experience:

I’m at my best when I can work intensively on one big project. Spending 4 hours with me all at once is better than a full year of monthly calls – I guarantee it.

I get more inspired, more intuitive and more genius-y when I get to spend the day focused on YOU.

So that’s why I’m offering this new format – because I think it will be more effective than anything else I’ve ever offered.

Fill out the application and see how it feels, why don’t you?

Thanks for being willing to experiment with me.