Doing it anyway is an exercise in mental fortitude.
I’ve had this George St. Pierre—the MMA/UFC fighter—quote in my head for quite a while. It’s about how not even he is immune to crappy training days. (He probably lifted it from someone else, but that’s beside the point.) The quote is:
You don’t get better on the days when you feel like going. You get better on the days when you don’t want to go, but you go anyway. If you can overcome the negative energy coming from your tired body or unmotivated mind, you will grow and become better. It won’t be the best workout you have, you won’t accomplish as much as what you usually do when you actually feel good, but that doesn’t matter. Growth is a long-term game, and the crappy days are more important.
I mean, what if most of your days are crappy days? I would argue that’s bound to happen at some point. And getting your reps in—I don’t care what you’re doing—is way more important, in the long run, than the quality of those reps.
Why a lot of crappy work is good, too.
Here’s a great example. I like to run. I’m almost always thinking about running a half-marathon (13.1 miles) or longer. Training for a half-marathon takes at least a couple months.
I also have small children. They get sick, a lot, so I do, too. The upshot is that, during any given training stretch, I’m likely to be sick for a week or more. I’m human, so, yeah, sometimes I end up just sitting around during a sick week.
But my good sick weeks are the ones where I’m able to convince myself to at least do something. OK, I’m not gonna get a nine-mile run in. But if I can run for one mile, or take a brisk walk for three, that’s way better than if I would have sat around eating Cheetos and watching TV.
This can go on for more than a week. Still—better than doing nothing at all.
Crappy work is by definition crappy. But it’s also by definition work.
Truly long-term crappy work is a problem. But a week? Two weeks? A month? That’s nothing in the grand scheme of a career or a life.
Do some crappy work. You’ll bounce back.