In any project there comes a time when the motivation ebbs and belief in the work we are doing can go missing; it may even disappear altogether. This is the case whether we are working on ourselves, renovating the kitchen, writing a book, fixing a car, a relationship or a washing machine. This post is a reminder of that, offering words of encouragement to keep going.
Recent events connected to two projects I am currently working on caused me to doubt whether they will succeed. There have been setbacks. There will always be setbacks. Furthermore, my expectations distracted me, causing me to lose sight of my original goals. The doubt I experienced influenced my outlook and tainted my perspective, and it became difficult to maintain my belief in what I was doing. I became disillusioned and discouraged.
The first project is my current exercise routine, the second project is this blog. The setbacks came respectively in the form of physical pain and a lull in the traffic to the blog. The pain came from nowhere at a time when the exercises were going well. When that happens it is always a little difficult. At the same time I was struggling to write a new blog post and interest in the blog appeared to be on the wane.
It’s at this point that the mind usually takes over. Having waited in the wings for such a doubt to surface it takes centre stage and dictates my thoughts and feelings. If I let it, it would continue and eventually convince me that the exercise routine is a waste of time and the blog is of no interest to anyone.
In all of this I also lost sight of the time scales involved in the two projects. The exercise one has an initial phase of 14 months; and the blog’s is four years. The first is merely one tenth underway, whilst the second is only 20% complete. Now and again I find myself expecting results, when these projects are nowhere near fruition. Other times, like the last two weeks, there is a letup in the progress, a setback, or a feeling of stagnation.
It took me a couple of days but in due course I reminded myself of the respective durations and regained my perspective. I also looked back over my historical journal posts from the last three weeks (11 years ago) and found more useful advice:
- Consistency, Boundaries & Discipline. Regardless of what happens to us, we need to be consistent and disciplined.
- It’s possible that issues arise because we’re doing well. This is especially true when changing elements of our script.
- More than ‘important’. We are much more than just that. Irrespective of what we think might be going wrong, there is a whole lot more which is going right.
- Focus fully on whatever is in front of us. Give everything in each second, rather than waste time and energy questioning things and becoming distracted.
- Verbalise. Talk to someone. Share our situation. It will help us and it may even help them.
- Separate feelings and activities. Just as we need to practice non-attachment to results and positive feelings, so is it beneficial to remain unattached to our negative feelings too. That way we are able to observe them objectively and avoid being dragged down by them.
- Relax and be unreasonable. There is never any need to panic, so relax. But there is often a need to stand up to circumstances and change them, rather than have them dictate how we should be.
- Just as with the collaborative process, projects and tasks can run at their own pace. It’s knowing when to push and when to relax.
Perhaps the best advice I received relates to that last point and came from someone very close to me. ‘Accept it’, she said. In doing so I relaxed a little and determined to forge on, stick to my routine and, on a day-to-day basis, succeed. (Incidentally, she has had her own struggle over the last few weeks and on the eve of posting this entry, she cleared her pathway by passing a particularly tiresome exam.)
The final piece of my jigsaw came with the opportunity to help a friend renovate his new flat. Karaj always used to say that doing physical work quietens the mind. The chance to do so materialised at the end of last week. I helped a friend lay the floor in his new flat. For two days, four of us worked together to finish the project in time for him and his girlfriend to move in.
Firstly, it was a pleasure to be involved. Four skilled men, working in harmony to produce good work efficiently and within the deadline. Secondly, it enabled me to step out of the loop of doubt and diminishing belief, and gave me the chance to become energised by the contact and collaboration with the other men, returning with renewed application to my own projects. Just as with the list above, this very event is mirrored in two of the latest journal entries from 11 years ago: ‘A Day Like No Other’ and ‘I Can Do This’.
I am fortunate to be able to look back over my journal posts because there is always some good advice to be found there. Both projects, are now very close to being back on track. The energy, inspiration and motivation are not quite at the levels I’d like them to be, but the key is not to wait for them to appear. The key is to cajole, entice, invite, even compel them to return by doing whatever we can to keep things ticking over. Do that and eventually we will hit our stride again.