As we near the end of the month, I know I can’t be the only one who has already begun to feel doubt plague my plans. You see, I think we all come into each new year with very high hopes (shout out to my PATD fans) and feel the motivation to take the next 365 days into a new direction. January 1st is always a brand-new start for most people, much like I considered it to be for me, but what happens when the reality begins to set in that these plans require work?
The truth is, it’s easy to dream. What’s hard is making those dreams a reality. They require work. A lot of it most times. But something else they require is patience.
On my Dream Board, I posted a lot of different writing challenges and plans that I had for myself. The idea that fueled most of them was that the idea of having a goal to work toward would give me motivation, but even this early into the year, I’ve found that motivation beginning to slowly dwindle down as I realize the actual work it’s going to take to make each thing happen.
Don’t get me wrong. When making my goals for the year, one of the driving forces was to remember to make them achievable. The last thing you want to do with any sort of challenge or goal is to start off with something that will be barely possible. You don’t want to lowball and give yourself room to be MIA for most of the year, but you do want to set reasonable things to strive for, which I did. The ‘365k in 365 Days’ is completely achievable, seeing as I tend to write 2k each day when working on a novel, and now that I’m also writing blog posts (or trying), I have a new avenue to use for writing as well. Yet, at the 15th of this month, I was already falling behind.
The easy thing to do would be to get down and go ahead and call it quits. But that’s the easy way, not the way to do exactly what I set out to do at the beginning of the month and had begun preparing for even before then.
I’m no expert by any means, but I did read something a while back that has opened my eyes in terms of figuring out what’s actually holding me back when it comes to situations like this. It’s very easy for us as people to call ourselves lazy and feel bad about it, thus continuing not to do anything because we feel bad. But, I read a post by someone who said that their therapist said they didn’t like to use the word lazy because no one’s really lazy, just demotivated. The vocabulary we use to explain, or behavior is important. Lazy ends the conversation and promotes self-hate. Demotivated suggests there’s a source and it can be fixed.
As a person that often gets inspired by the smallest things, hearing that really helped change my outlook. In the past, I have referred to times I didn’t write or try to query out for agents or submit short stories, I would just account it to laziness and make myself feel lousy for not doing the things I wanted. Every bout I’ve had with procrastinating, it always ended with me making myself feel worse. Never did I stop to ask myself why I wasn’t motivated to write, or edit, or submit in the first place.
Finding the root of the problem should always be the first priority. Because often times, it is just fear that’s holding you back. Fear of “What if I fail?” or “What if I don’t?”. I don’t think people realize how much fear can come from wondering in either direction. None of us want to fail and let down the people supporting us or give those who don’t something to talk about, but there is a huge amount of fear and doubt that also comes with the idea of succeeding. What if I do? After I get that dream, then what? What will be expected from me then? How will I continue?
Pressure. Success comes with pressure and that can be nearly as difficult to deal with as disappointment. We don’t even have to succeed to feel that pressure, so we chicken out and hold back. We hold back because that’s easier.
No matter which idea keeps you from going forward, learning to fight against that has been one struggle I’m still learning to overcome. But I do know that it’s okay to fail as long as you try. It’s okay to fall a hundred times as long as you stand back up one hundred and one. It’s even okay to fail. Failure isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s something to learn from.
With all of this in mind, I do fall back on a support system. A key point for me to remain motivated is to be surrounded by people who want me to persevere. It doesn’t have to be an entire army, but even one person that’s there to remind you, be it a family, friend, someone you’ve never met, even a pet, that you can talk to and know they want you to do better can be a huge help.
Another tip I have for staying motivated is deadlines. Realistic deadlines. Often, the reason I stopped working so diligently on a book, whether it be editing or writing, is because I gave myself the room to take my time, thereby taking away the importance of whatever project I was working on. In writing, I think it’s very easy to forget to treat it as a job. Perhaps with any business that doesn’t have a set work schedule, especially when self-employed, it’s extremely easy to say, “It’s okay. It’ll get done tomorrow,” but then use the same excuse when tomorrow comes. I struggle a lot with that idea, but I‘ve found my own middle ground. Because on the bad days, or the busy days, there is tomorrow. Just because you didn’t do everything you would have liked today doesn’t mean that it still can’t be done. Because there is a tomorrow, and tomorrow is a brand-new day. But when tomorrow comes, you have to remind yourself that it’s time to start. Learning that balance between working and not beating yourself up for a bad day is crucial. Without that balance, it’s easy to fall right back into that rut of feeling lazy and not getting down to the rut of the problem.
Wanna know how to stay motivated?
Because they wouldn’t be dreams if you didn’t want them in the first place. A very famous young woman once said, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”
That woman was indeed Cinderella, but guess what? The words are true.
So keep trying. Remember the goal each time you want to give up. Remember the feeling. Remember the joy.