We can all have days when we question our path, when we run our numbers and go uh oh, and when we start to doubt that we can actually do what we’ve set out to do.
At that point it’s easy to give into fear and reach toward other paths. It’s especially easy to reach backward to what was more familiar like returning to an old career or an old partner.
Even when we reach forward, if we are in fact reaching away from our focus, then we will lose momentum and maybe stall.
We might start contemplating a part-time job, let’s say, that looks good on paper but doesn’t pay a living wage (wages in many industries really are stuck in the 2000s) and would eat into our goal-execution time. We convince ourselves that we can still reach our goals while working that new job—that maybe it’s a safer way to go after all. Split the difference, right? Partway to making money, partway to hitting a goal?
But when we really crunch the numbers, they won’t add up because that job won’t pay the bills and it will take us away from our focus, which will extend the time it takes to reach our objectives.
When we throw in a new distraction, new responsibilities, hours we didn’t account for, and extra stress we didn’t anticipate, then we run the risk of completely straying from our path by pursuing this new detour.
We all have bills to pay. I’m not advocating that anyone max out their credit cards to launch a business or finish a creative project. I’m assuming if you’ve started working toward a new endeavor that you’ve already set a budget, time frame, and schedule that work for you. If so, stick to the plan. (If not, get going on the plan!)
Once you move forward with your plan, don’t get distracted by fear waving in your face and asking you if you really know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Fear will tell you to consider safer options to cover your bases, which sounds appealing until you realize you can’t cover your bases until you execute on your plan.
There was a reason why you decided to do what you did. Unless you find that you truly hate the work and do indeed want to abandon the goal for something that appeals much more to you, then you have to keep doubt and fear at bay because they are time and motivation killers.
When you start to look at job listings or pick up your phone to check something (news, social media, your photo roll) that you don’t really care about in the moment, realize it’s perfectly normal. We all do it. Then try to redirect attention back to the work at hand.
If it’s a day when you’re questioning everything and thinking about throwing in the towel, then it’s time to dig deep.
Look at the goals you set. Look at the time frame and budget you established. Evaluate whether anything has changed that necessitates you making changes to the plan. If it hasn’t, then chalk it up to an hour or hours or a day of self-doubt. It’s all right. It hasn’t derailed the plan.
On a digging deep day, just breathe and believe in your plan even if you can’t quite get back to believing in yourself.
That plan is like an assignment from your boss or a syllabus from your professor. You can and will tackle it—not because you have to, but because you want to. You’ve chosen to be here and to do the work.
It’s your life after all. Do you want to dawdle and doodle, hem and haw, check Instagram for the hundredth time, and continue sighing and running your hands through your hair? Or do you want to get back to the work of living a meaningful life?
Your plan might not work out in the way you want it to. You might not get the investor backing you needed for your business or the marathon finish time you wanted, for example. But you will learn a lot from the process, and that knowledge will help you on subsequent endeavors moving forward.
You won’t learn anything from the projects you didn’t do.
And you won’t grow by avoiding hard goals. We only know what we are capable of when we push ourselves to go, do, and be.
Would you rather say that you finished the screenplay you’ve always wanted to write and haven’t sold (at least not yet)? Or would you rather say that you pulled back from finishing it because it was hard and you weren’t sure you’d be successful and that you can always try again at some later date that you realize will just get later and later?
The path to being ourselves is a tough one, but it is hands down the most rewarding way of living. The lows can be low, but they build us up. They give us character and experience that we can apply to all aspects of our lives moving forward.
Have courage to do what you set out to do. While you won’t be able to control 100% of the outcome, you will grow deeper from the experience.
And that depth will allow you to reach greater depths moving forward.