Back in the Saddle, On the Wagon – And All Sorts Of Other Horsey Metaphors
‘Habits are hard to break’ they say… except only BAD habits it seems.
Good habits, that take ages (and often hard bloody work) to create, are able to disappear almost overnight. Ugh! Why is that?!
I wrote a column for the Royal Gazette virtually every single week for five years. Some weeks it would come easily, I knew what I wanted to write about – I’d been rehearsing ideas in my head all week and when I sat down to it, it would simply pour out. Other weeks however, it was like squeezing blood from a stone… But I still did it! I sat there and thought and worked and fiddled until I had something – not always great, ‘they can’t all be winners’ I would console myself, but something.
What started as a good way to share coaching tools (and hopefully drum up some business) became something far more valuable to me. It forced me into a great writing habit: sticking to a deadline, being expected to produce something… and then sharing it. Admittedly I only imagined 3 people ever read it – one of them being my mother – but each week I still had to swallow the anxiety and ‘preciousness’ about putting my writing ‘out there’, and desensitize myself to those perfectionist fears of it not being finished or good enough etc. etc.… because either way, it had to be in.
Each week was practice, and on the whole, writing got easier and I got better at it (I think). The action I was taking spurred more action. The writing job literally made me a writer.
When the newspaper downsized, I told myself that regardless, I would continue the writing practice. Writing is what I want to do… love to do in many ways - not only this column/blog. There are creative projects that have been rattling around my head for years that are looking to come out. So now’s the time, right?! But see how much I’ve written in the past 2 weeks…? ZERO.
These past two Monday mornings – my dedicated 'writing time' – you’d have found me on the sofa watching Hallmark Christmas movies and eating chocolate… oh the shame! How did I fall off that good wagon so fast!
Quick aside: Back in the dark ages, I used to be a smoker… I know, gross! But I thought it was cool, until I didn’t, and then I decided to quit. It was before the days of the smoke-ban in bars and three moody but successful weeks into my smoking abstinence I was out for a drink with friends, someone offered me a fag and without thinking it was in my mouth, lit and I was dragging on it – before I could remember that I had given up!
Bad habits usually equal instant gratification… we know what we’re getting - the short-term gain of proven pleasure responses: ‘yum, ahh, ooh!’ make them so easy to fall back into.
‘Good’ habits on the other hand are usually to do with our long-term vision. They can feel more like ‘work’ than pleasure as they often take us out of our comfort zone. They’re rarely a quick fix serving to distract us/soothe us/medicate us from the bigger picture of ourselves. You have to keep your eye on the end-goal to get the benefits and satisfaction of them – and so for someone like me with poor impulse control, and a bit of a hedonistic streak let’s face it… good habits can be hard to hold onto.
I say I love writing, but it’s more that I love ‘having written’. The process itself can feel almost painful – there’s the constant battle of ‘why am I doing this? Who cares what I have to say? Who am I to think I’m a writer? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ Jeez – thinking about it makes me wonder if it’s worth it at all. But at the end of the day, when I’ve completed something, even though it’s not perfect – if it reads right in my head and I feel like I’ve shared something that might help or touch someone’s heart – inspire someone to some new thought or action, or better yet, bring a smile to their face… then it feels good.
So the question is – how do I motivate my reluctant-ass to sit in that chair and write, goddmamit?
I miss the threat of an editor sending a snarky reminder email if my copy was five minutes overdue. I miss pulling teeth for money – it’s not like it was a lot of money, but ‘no copy, no pay’ was enough to off-set the grind. I miss readers saying they’d enjoyed my piece, got something out of it… even if it was just my mom.
This is what I need. Plus a reminder of my long-term goal: what do I want to be getting from this? What will this practice give me? And maybe I need to revise this.
These are all vital keys to motivation… I write about these a lot (probably because I battle with them so much!).
So here’s what I’m going to do:
What about YOU, huh??
Is there a saddle you’ve slipped off of? Are there some good habits are you struggling to keep?
What can you do today to put these 4 motivation keys into practice?
Leave a comment here if you want to share and to get some great accountability – I’ll hold you to it! How will you celebrate your success of getting started again? What is your end goal and how will that benefit you?
Let’s hit the trail together, my friend! Tally ho!!
Julia is a trained Personal Development Coach, certified NLP Practitioner, writer and public speaker. Using coaching methods, tools and conversation, Julia helps her clients achieve the goals they set for themselves and transform their lives. Here she shares her own personal development journey on her life quest for authenticity, growth and having a good time!