Life often tends to get in the way of the pursuit of our dreams. You may have encountered a roadblock, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your journey. In this article, I will share some thoughts on how to stay motivated during trying times.
Bad things happen and we all face our own challenges. Perhaps you’ve recently lost a loved one, or you have bills that are piling up, or you’ve fallen ill, or any number of a series of unfortunate incidents have taken place. In these dire circumstances, it would be easy to put your writing efforts (or any other dream that you may be pursuing) on hold. Once you’ve made that decision, it will become increasingly more difficult with each passing day to resume your efforts.
Habits, good or bad, form quickly and a difficult to break. If you make a habit of finding excuses not to write (or pursue your dreams), then you will always be able to find an excuse. Likewise, if you make a habit out of writing (or pursuing your dreams) every single day, then you will grow accustomed to working regardless of the obstacles life presents.
Motivation is the key to success and an indispensable tool in unlocking your dreams to make them a reality. Traditional jobs come with inherent forms of motivation. If you don’t show up for work, you might get fired. If you slack off on your productivity, a boss or manager might pay you an unpleasant visit.
With creative work where you serve as your own boss, motivation becomes a bit more challenging. Accountability rests solely upon your shoulders. You decide if you’re going to work, when you will do it, and how much time you will put into the process. When life throws you a curveball, you can simply choose to walk away from the game. We have all done it before and we will all do it again.
Motivation is defined as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. Desire comes naturally. We all desire to be rich or famous or do something special with our lives. Willingness, however, is entirely subjective. Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices and put in the hard work to achieve your goals? That’s the real question. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way even if you feel the deck is stacked against you.
Here are my suggestions on how you can stay motivated when the sky seems to be falling around you:
1. Treat your craft as your job!
Establish a set schedule and stick to it regardless of what is going on in your life. When disaster inevitably strikes, respond in the same fashion that you would with a traditional employer. For example, if you fall ill, take a few days off, but keep it reasonable.
2. Leave your worries at home!
When you are working, even if it is inside your home, focus on the task at hand, not the problems you may be facing. Imagine a doctor performing heart surgery on you while allowing herself to be distracted by an impending foreclosure or a death in the family. That’s just not something that they can afford to do. Instead, they leave their problems at home to be dealt with at a later time. That is exactly what you should do when you sit down at your computer or in front of your canvas.
3. Resist the urge to quit!
When serious things are going on, it can be difficult to maintain your focus. You may feel the urge to quit for the day and come back to it the next. Resist that urge. If you have scheduled five hours of writing (or creating) each day, then stay committed for the duration. Even if you are not productive during the allotted period, you’ll be reinforcing the habit of working set hours. Our minds do not like being unproductive; after a day or two, your creativity will return.
4. Set realistic goals!
Achieving a goal is cathartic while failing to achieve a goal can be debilitating. Set some realistic and easily achievable goals to boost your motivation. For example, as an author, I may set a goal of editing two chapters today, writing ten pages of a new novel, or posting a couple of new blogs to my website. Even in times of strife, those goals can be easily achieved and will provide a sense of accomplishment.
5. Remind yourself why you are doing it!
Whatever creative path you are on, there is a reason that you chose to take this journey. In my case, I write books in hopes that they will provide entertainment and a form of escape for my readers. I post articles on my blog to share my experiences and offer advice. Both of those efforts provide me with a sense of accomplishment and purpose which are more significant than any challenges I may face. In troubled times, that is what keeps me going. When you are feeling low, ask yourself why it is that you do what you do and why you were willing to put in the work and make the necessary sacrifices to make your dreams a reality. If that doesn’t motivate you to continue your efforts, then perhaps you should rethink your goals and dreams.
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