Do you ever feel like you work hard all day, but have nothing to show for it?
You were busy, so surely you actually did something.
But there’s a disconnect.
Otherwise, you’d have already achieved at least half the goals you set for yourself a few months ago, right?
You claim to want these things, and you claim to do the things that will get you there…
Yet here you are, spinning your wheels day in and day out, with next to nothing to show for it.
“Why the hell haven’t I made more progress?” you wonder.
There’s probably a simple explanation:
You’re confusing your watchadoon.
That’s not a typo.
Let me explain…
What is a Watchadoon?
A watchadoon is a small creature with large, curious eyes, and carries a tiny notebook to write down their observations in.
You’ve probably never seen your watchadoon, because they’re incredibly shy (and can turn invisible if necessary). But it’s always looking over your shoulder and trying to understand what you’re doing.
See, watchadoon don’t understand humans. But they’re fascinated by us and have a deep curiosity about the world. So each watchadoon is assigned a human to observe, take notes on, and report back to its little village.
But since it’s so shy, it can’t just ask you what you’re doing. It can only observe your actions and draw conclusions based on your actions.
Think of it like a tiny anthropologist—it doesn’t interact, it only observes.
Despite its curious nature and love of understanding humans, we frequently do things that confuse our watchadoon—and this is why you’re not getting the results you want.
Here’s what I mean…
How You Confuse Your Watchadoon
Here’s how a watchadoon works:
- It watches what you do
- It tries to guess what you are
For example, let’s say you claim to be a writer. Based on its observations of your behaviors, would your watchadoon know you’re a writer? Or would it think you’re a professional Twitter-scroller?
Well Corey, I am a writer! I just…sometimes…throughout the day…for 20 minutes at a time…doomscroll when I know I should be writing.
Or maybe you claim to be a loving parent and partner. Does your watchadoon know this? Or does it think your job is to ignore your loved ones and take your frustrations out on them? Because that’s what your actions on a regular basis might suggest.
Listen Corey, I love my family. I just have a lot going on right now and, yeah I can snap sometimes, but they know I love them because I say it all the time. My words are more important than how I actually treat them.
Ok, let’s say you claim to be a health nut. Would your watchadoon write down “fitness enthusiast” in its notebook based on what it’s observed over the last week? Or would it jot down, “Couch-enthusiast and Cheeto-finger-licking Ding-Dong-inhaler?”
Corey, that’s not accurate! I’m a healthy person and love eating clean! I just…I’ve been stressed lately, and busy, and it’s just been hard to…”
You’re confusing your watchadoon.
Because what you claim to be doesn’t align with the actions you’re taking on a day-to-day basis.
This isn’t me being critical of you—I’ve confused my watchadoon many times. But any time I’ve felt like I’ve been working so hard, but have nothing to show for it, it’s because what I claimed to be didn’t align with the actions I was taking on a daily basis.
For example, I’d claim to be a writer and get frustrated I wasn’t bringing in more money. But then I thought about what my watchadoon would have jotted down in its tiny notebook:
Today, every 15 minutes or so, Corey cycled through refreshing his Twitter notifications, new newsletter subscriber total, and website analytics. Then he sipped coffee while clicking through the 100 tabs he has open on his computer. Then he spent 30 minutes in the bathroom. Then he got a snack. Then he came back to his office and refreshed his notifications all over again. Then he wrote for 10 minutes. Then he got distracted with something else, watched some YouTube videos, made lunch, watched more YouTube, listened to a podcast while scrolling the internet. Then he wrote for another hour (while stopping every 15 minutes to check notifications). Then he texted friends and answered emails. Then he quit for the day and lamented he didn’t get more done.
Corey must be a professional piddler, because he spent all day piddling and doing a whole lot of nothing.
How in the fuck did I expect to get real results from such half-assed effort?
So I made a change and started focusing on the 3 moats every successful creator builds first.
But I know I’m not alone.
Creating is incredibly hard. It’s no wonder there are so many productivity hacks marketed toward creators and entrepreneurs. There’s so much resistance to the creative process and existential angst, we unconsciously self-sabotage all the time.
But productivity isn’t our problem.
I hear so many creators struggle with the frustration of feeling like they’re busy all day long but have nothing to show for it.
It’s because we’re confusing our watchadoon.
So how can you stop confusing your watchadoon?
How to Stop Confusing Your Watchadoon
Align your actions with your intentions—it’s that simple and that difficult.
If you’re a writer—fucking write. Structure your routine so that your watchadoon knows exactly what you claim to be. It’ll know you’re a writer based on the fact you spend a set period of your day acting like a writer—doing what a writer does. Whether you have a set word count for the day or a set amount of time you write every day—do what a writer does if you claim to be a writer.
If you’re a family man/woman/person—show the love you have for your family through your actions, not just your words. Spend time with them, find healthier ways of de-stressing so you don’t scapegoat them, and be a source of support and compassion.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast—don’t just talk about it, be about it. Exercise, eat clean, prioritize your sleep, and whatever other actions you know align with being health-conscious.
Whatever you claim to be—do the work you need to do to be the thing you claim to be.
Because when what you claim to be aligns with the actions you take on a consistent basis—your watchadoon will know exactly what you are.
It won’t be confused anymore.
The metaphor of a watchadoon watching you may seem weird, but it’s actually based on a psychological concept called the Hawthorne Effect.
Basically, the Hawthorne Effect is when we alter our behaviors based on the knowledge we’re being observed.
Think about how you might exercise harder when others are at the gym, or how you’re more productive in a coworking environment than when you work alone. Simply knowing others are watching you causes you to change your behavior—typically improving your performance.
So literally just pretending a mythical tiny anthropologist creature-thing is watching you can boost your productivity and help you align your actions with your intentions.
So here’s a quick exercise to try out…
The next time you start to do something, ask yourself:
What would my watchadoon think I am based on my current behavior?
See how asking this simple question alters your behavior and (hopefully) helps you better align your actions with your intentions.
Remember, your watchadoon is watching.
Don’t confuse it.
I’m awful at drawing, so I tried my hand at Canva’s text-to-image feature to help me visualize a watchadoon for this piece.
Here’s what I came up with:
If you illustrate, or like experimenting with text-to-image AI stuff, reply with a picture of what your watchadoon looks like.
I’d love to see it!