Conceiving a new idea is like falling in love. Thinking of it makes your heart race and skin tingle. Your mind drifts off, daydreaming about 10 years down the road when you’re with each other everyday and it’s magic. Then reality sets in and your beautiful daydream has warts. Or setbacks. Whatever. Here’s how to keep going.
1. Setbacks say nothing about your worthiness
You are worthy. So worthy. Let’s get that out of the way first.
Setbacks are nothing against you personally. They’re part of stepping out of your comfort zone and are a sign that you’re doing cool things. Before success comes setbacks. That’s just how it is. Keep going.
Even if someone rejects your work, they’re not rejecting you. Whether you’re a chef, artist, businessperson or other type of creator, not everybody is going to like what you produce, but that’s ok. People have different tastes and that’s what makes the world go ’round.
While it’s important to keep improving and consider all constructive criticism, it’s also important to stay true to you and not make changes that don’t feel right. Trying to please everyone will only make you bland and boring. Keep going. Be you.
Plus, two different people might tell you two different things. One may say you’re too tall and another too short. It’s impossible to reconcile all feedback, so consider people’s opinions carefully and make only those changes that resonate with your heart.
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If you continue for months or years with no result, then maybe you need to switch up your game plan a little, but otherwise, keep trucking. The process of doing will refine both you and your talent, so keep going.
2. Setbacks happen to everybody
There is no path leading anywhere meaningful without setbacks. It’s really easy to look at others’ triumphs with envy, not seeing all the behind-the-scenes effort. Keep going.
People often work for years before enjoying success on a grand scale. That’s not to say quicker progress isn’t possible, but most of the time, results appear after sustained, long-term effort. Many times people grow frustrated during the setback phase and give up, never working consistently enough to see results.
The thing is, setbacks aren’t a popular topic of conversation. Troubled times involve people hiding their heads into pillows while safely ensconced in their bedroom comforter. This can make it seem like success is effortless for others, but it never is. Keep going.
3. Setbacks say nothing about destiny
There’s a dangerous idea sometimes perpetuated that the waters will part and the road will clear for things that are meant to be. What’s that saying? Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
That implies all we need to do is wish for magic in our lives and poof! It’s granted. And life is just not like that. You have to — and should — put in the work. Otherwise, it’s like wanting a six-pack (of abs, not beer) but eating cake for dinner every night and chanting in your room, visualizing muscle definition instead of hitting the gym and working for it.
I don’t mean to say that magical things don’t happen. They do sometimes. But you have to put in the work. Think of these days as the early days, that time when hopes and big dreams fanned the fire of desire, before you got big.
Setbacks serve an important function. They help you learn, strengthen your resolve and compel you to practice your craft. Keep going.
4. Conserve energy
The beginning stages of any endeavor require an incredible amount of energy. It may feel like all your efforts are falling into a bottomless hole, with no visible results or life changes despite the immense amount of resources you’re devoting to realizing the dream.
But to create change, we must first create inertia. Inertia takes time to build. As you put energy into the world, things start to happen. Many times, those initial movements are behind the scenes and unbeknownst to you. Then, you wake up one day, an opportunity appears, and your heart soars as you realize it was all worthwhile.
I saw this in my freelance writing business that I started a few years ago. It took about two solid months of cold calls, emails, and networking to find work. At first, all the effort seemed useless because nothing seemed to be happening. Then, gradually, I started signing clients. Offers were made, contracts signed, and I smiled to myself, laughing that I knew success was inevitable the whole time. (I didn’t.)
My first full year of freelancing, I earned more money than I did during my last staff writing job. It was hard work, but that’s how I know the principles behind inertia and continued effort.
Any day could be the day. Keep going.
When we’re exerting so much energy with little coming back, it’s easy to exhaust our reserves and become burned out. Avoid this by taking breaks, exercising, eating healthy and enjoying other self-care activities. Don’t drive yourself into the ground. Building momentum takes time and you need the energy to continue for the long haul.
5. Live in the moment with perspective
We talk a lot about living in the moment, and that’s important. But sometimes, the moment can take on the glow of eternity, like the reality of right now will be the reality forever.
The tricky thing when you’re trying to live in the moment is keeping everything in perspective, finding that balance between knowing that this moment is all there is while maintaining the awareness that future moments will be different.
Many of us work to realize that this moment is all we have, and so it can be frustrating when our goals are not realized in this moment.
Maybe right now, in this moment, you’re not where you want to be, but that’s ok because there’s a lot of other goodness going on. And tomorrow is a new day, next week is a new week, and next month brings 30 more days of possibility.
So right now, try to be happy to have the opportunity to work on your dream, create something from nothing, and maybe one day all your dreams will come true.
How do you stay motivated to keep going despite obstacles along the path?
Image by Mike Bean via Flickr