The honeymoon period is over. It’s time to start getting serious about this years goals. If you are reading this and made some big goals for for 2014, the reality of how hard it’s going to be to accomplish said goals is probably just starting to sink in. It’s natural. My best piece of advice to you is this: put your head down and work like a mother fucker, or in my case I'll take this piece of advice from The Rumpus and:
I don't know any other way to put it. Somedays you are going to get up and absolutely not want to put in the work necessary to improve as a writer, runner, worker, lover, whatever it may be that you are trying to get better at. You just have to work. There are going to be days when you are sick, or your kids are sick, and the 20 minutes of running will feel like a Baton Death March, but do it anyways.
When I woke up this morning I felt like complete death. Just getting out of bed, showering and shaving was a chore: let alone sitting in front of my computer and writing down something meaningful. But it's showing up on the hardest days that prepares us for facing challenges down the road.
The harder we push ourselves, the more comfortable we become when confronted with physical and mental obstacles. I know that this week is going to be a rough one in my running routine. Yet I'm looking forward to start bumping up against my own limitations. I feel this way because for the last couple of years I've grown comfortable bumping up against my limits. There's a hump that every person has to get over, and the only way that's going to happen is to show up and give it the best you have. I know that sounds like a cliche, but when you are up against the barriers of self-doubt, pain, and frustration, it's often the confidence that comes with experience that pushes us through.
I can run put the work in it takes to run a 5K, because I have put the work in to achieve similar goals. I know how to find a plan that works for me, I know I have to show up to the gym on every training day, and that even one missed session will put me back weeks. I know these things because I have the knowledge of pasts success and failure. No matter how many times I heard the exact same things from other people, it didn't sink in until I was the person having the experiences. You have to make the challenges personal, internalize what it takes to accomplish something that is difficult, because it's the best advice you'll get.
As far as writing, I have not yet earned that kind of experience, and I'm still working on instilling the work habits needed to be able to show up every day and put in work. I find it a lot harder to sit down and write 750 words than showing up at the gym and working my ass off. These are new muscles that need just as much attention as my other muscles needed my first couple of weeks of strength training two years ago.
When it comes to writing there is the extra pressure of having days where you put in the time but do not succeed is saying something that is true or relevant to your vision. There is an extra fear element that makes creative work really hard. The fear that what I am doing is irrelevant and a waste of time. Every day I don't write these fears compound, until eventually I will go into complete creative shut-down. This happened to me last year, and it wasn't pretty. I didn't keep showing up. The fear of having a "bad day" became so large that I would rather not show up at all than struggle.
There's always going to be an excuse to not do the things that are hard. So many people I know that have kids tell me they would love to write or read more, but just don't have the time. I completely understand what they are saying, but if you can not find 20-30 minutes in a day to try to better yourself then it's on you, not the kids. If you are working at a stressful, time consuming job, I think it is that much more important you find a way to better your life outside of work. Find that time by any means necessary. Wake up half an hour earlier. Work late into the night. Do whatever it takes. Because the inconvenience is worth it.
For me, the failure to show up every day and improve, has become a burden on the soul. I can feel the weight of my combined failures of effort pull on me everyday. When you make a habit of doing nothing it makes it really, really, hard to do anything. The harder I work on myself, I find the inverse is true. The more often I go to the gym the harder it is for me not to go to the gym. The more often I write, the harder it is to stay away from my keyboard.
I've learned to accept that some days are going to be a pain in the ass. There will be days where I'll have to ice my knees for an hour after I get done training. There will be days where I delete 1,000's of words and feel like throwing my laptop out of a window Guess what? You are going to have these days too. For all of us trying to improve, some days are just going to suck. We have to learn to take an ass-kicking every once in a while. Once you learn how to take a punch, you can start fighting back. Once we learn that the work isn't going to kill us, we can start to live.
Let's all kick some ass this year.
Let's live - and love - and create.