One of the most important things that determine your success is whether you show up on the days you feel like quitting.
Making an effort
Making a beginning is worthy of praise. If you are in the habit of striving for things you want, you have a lot more courage than than those who just dream. You are way more likely to succeed. But, praiseworthy though it is, making an effort does not guarantee success. It is just a beginning. When you start, there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. As you move on this journey, the initial enthusiasm wears away and the effort becomes routine. Once this happens, the real test starts.
When the effort loses its novelty, it is not, in fact, a bad thing. I see this as nature’s way of helping us on our journey. We get to know whether we really want what we want? Past the initial enthusiasm, the only reason you can continue is if you genuinely want what you are after. If you don’t want it, there is really no point continuing. It was most probably a passing attraction, not something you want from your heart.
Are you ready for all the effort required?
There can be another reason for losing enthusiasm, maybe it is only now that you realize the amount of effort required and feel overwhelmed by it. If you leave because of overwhelm, that is OK too. Don’t beat yourself up for it. You probably are not ready for it yet. The time will come, have faith.
The above reasons apart, if you really want to have the object of your desire and are not intimidated by the effort, you will have to learn showing up on bad days. If you think you can give in once and then continue later, you are deceiving yourself. It will not be the same again. When you slip once, it opens the floodgates for more such instances. Your resolve and confidence crumble before your very eyes.
Learn to show up. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. It’s OK to not do your best every time. Success requires you to show up, not to give the same performance every time. We are humans, not machines. We have ups and downs in performance. It may be good to strive for consistency but obsessing over it can leave you with frequent feelings of guilt.
While there is a sense of achievement in planning for something and being successful at it, life is also an adventure in which we have to be ready to let go and take things as they are. Just show up every time, make your best effort and then let things be.
2. Shift focus. Make your bad day a ‘change day’. Shift your focus from achievement to enjoyment. Focus on enjoying what you are doing. It will be a pleasant change and it may also give you some new insights about the way you approach your work. You will see things from a different perspective. Sometimes, this helps people break a plateau in their performance and enthusiasm.
3. Allow yourself more frequent breaks. Try taking more frequent breaks. Usually, I work with Pomodoro blocks, that is 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest. On the days I am not in the mood, I start off without a clock and may do 10-15 minutes blocks with 20 minutes breaks between them. I do way less than my capacity but I don’t give in to the urge to leave either.
4. Once in a while, let go totally. Once in a while, I think it is good to leave your work totally for a day or few days. This is not the same as leaving because of lack of desire or overwhelm. Here you only let go temporarily to allow for replenishing of your energy reserves and enthusiasm. Such ‘total let gos’ add balance to life, they are the ‘yin’ to the ‘yang’ of hard work. When you work too hard on some days, it makes sense to go to the other end and allow yourself big surprise adventures once in a while.
Show up, tire yourself out regularly. You will see the limit of your potential and can plan accordingly for optimal performance. Not only that, when you regularly push yourself to the limit, you start stretching your limits further, your potential starts growing!