A few days ago, I got an idea for a book. I sat down at the computer and an outline flew out of me. It felt like this was the book I was born to write. In the process of writing the outline I entered that "flow state" where I felt totally in the creative zone. It was great.
However later that evening, the voices of doubt started to creep in: "Who's going to read this book?" "Who are YOU to write a book?" "How could you ever get this thing published?" "You're not even a good writer... " etc. So I stopped writing. A week went by and I did no work on my book. I abandoned this project that had given me a few hours of total joy and excitement. I believed the voices that said I wasn't good enough.
And then I had a realization: "Just write the damn book and worry about who's going to read it later. Write the book because right now your soul wants to create this book. Write it for YOU right now and trust that when the time is right this book will find it's audience... and if its audience is just you, that's okay."
Have you ever found yourself giving up on a goal that earlier had given you lots of joy?
Here are some tools for getting back on track:
- Don't believe everything you think. Most negative thoughts are fear-based and invented by our subconscious mind to protect ourselves from perceived danger. Your brain isn't trying to sabotage you; it's trying to protect you. However, in most creative endeavors, you don't need you brain's protection. Shine a light on the negative voice inside of you that is trying to stop you from creating. Thank this voice and show gratitude for its efforts in trying to protect you. Also let it know that it's not going to stop you from pursuing your goal and then carry on creating!
- Resolve to work on your goal every day. I've committed to working on my book for 20 minutes every day. Now this might not seem like a lot of time, but 20 minutes a day adds up to 10 hours a month. Committing to work on something every day actually increases your odds of working on it for longer. Often I'll do my 20 minutes in the morning and then later find myself inspired to go back to work on a section of the book. I'm getting new ideas because the book is constantly on my mind and so my brain is working on it even when I'm not actively "working on it."
- Have an accountability partner. Oftentimes setting goals on our own isn't enough to keep us on track. It can be helpful to buddy up with a friend who is working on a similar goal. You can connect weekly in person or via Skype and make sure that you're both staying on track with your goals. Break your goals down into manageable weekly "chunks" and then check in with your partner to see if you've both reached the week's goal.
- Reward yourself. This one works really well for me and I've used it throughout my life. (It's how I used to get myself to go to auditions.) Your reward for making progress towards your goal can be anything you want it to be (although I do encourage green juice over ice cream). I urge you to give yourself small rewards as you make positive steps toward your goal, rather than one large reward when you've succeeded - this way you're most likely to stay motivated.
- Let go of perfection. I'm aware that my book is not ready to be published in its current state. I'm writing from the heart first and then will go back and edit and polish, etc. Writing a book takes a lot of time, a lot of work and a lot of endurance. I'm giving myself permission at this stage for the book to be rough, for it to be "bad." I'm in this for the long haul. I'm allowing myself to be in the process of writing a book, without needing my book to be a product.
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