Beginnings have their own momentum. The middle of a project can bring the doldrums. During my two and a half years in grad school, my first year was skateboard ride down a hill. So exciting! New faculty! New friends! New projects! It was all exclamations points!!! Then came the third semester, the middle of five semesters total for me before graduation.
Due dates seemed too soon. The workload seemed too heavy. The glamour of the beginning had worn off. The syllabus seemed like a hard boss with no mercy. The exclamation points were gone. It was one | wall | after | another |.
Do you know that feeling? The initial thrill is gone, but you’re still far from completion.
Here are 7 ways I used to keep myself motivated.
Accept that you’re not in control
Sometimes you can’t pick the work that needs to be done. The syllabus or your job demand what they need, not what you want to do. As the serenity prayer suggests, accept what is out of your control with as much grace as you can. With any meaningful project, you will have to slog through some unpleasant parts. I love having a pony. Do I love mucking? But pony poop is part of pony having, so every weekend, I grab my rake.
Accept that you’re in control
This is like the second part of the serenity prayer. What can you own about the project you’re doing? Even in tight deadline situations, you can choose little things to make your work easier. Is there a photo you can post next to the computer that cheers you up? Do you have a favorite color rake?
Bribe yourself to get through short tasks
I broke my project into tiny tasks that could be completed in 10 or 20 minutes, and thought up prizes for myself as rewards. It might be having a cup of tea, making toast with extra butter and jam, painting my nails, calling a friend, watching TV or taking a bath.
Pick prizes that will bolster you, but not take too much work or money.
It helps to bring back a sense of play to your work. Put on energizing music and dance around. When I was building my web portfolio for grad school, I also built a spoof website in parallel.
Find someone who is doing the same thing that you are, and make a friendly competition of it. Who will do it first?
Realize the desire to quit will not last
I once read that hunger pains only last 20 minutes. If someone was dieting and could wait the 20 minutes, the discomfort would go away.
I think this is true of many of our desires. Our desire to quit is a short-term discomfort. If you can remind yourself that you will feel better about the project soon, it helps propel you past the sticking point.
Ask for help
Tell your loved ones that you are glum and need motivation. They will remind you what a good job you’re doing, and shower you with attention. You can ask them with help staying on track.
Remember, you can always tell God you’re struggling and ask for guidance.
Keep praying, keep working and keep looking to the day when you accomplish your goal!
But, Gen, what about the memoir?
Speaking of being in the middle of projects, thank you for those who have stopped me to ask how the memoir is going. I love you for asking. It means the world to me that I will have supportive readers when I have it finished.
As I looked over my memoir this summer, and prayed about it, I recognized a hard truth. My memoir in its current written form isn’t honest enough, funny enough or well written enough for my liking. I left my childhood with chronic emotional pain that took me years to heal. I don’t want to impose my story on others so the end result is depressing. For the moment, I’m letting the memoir rest until I decide whether I want to try writing it a third time from a completely fresh start, or rewrite the draft I have with more honesty and humor.
Update on the newest writing project
Meanwhile, my new project continues, and I would love your feedback as I flesh it out!!! (Still in the exclamation phase!)
Here’s my pitch.
My book, the Creative Women’s Devotional, helps women who are doing crafts to transform their hobby into a spiritual practice. An uplifting gift for moms and grandmas who are Christian crafters, it offers stories, blessings and suggestions all looped together with God’s love.
This will be a book that I build through blogging. The final book will have additional content not found on the blog, and offer the convenience of one place for 40 devotionals.
How does this sound to you as a book idea?
Do you think I should open it up for more types of craft? Originally I was thinking knitting and crochet, plus quilting and possibly scrapbooking. I am most familiar with knitting and crochet. I would need to use others’ expertise to speak about quilting and scrap booking.
What do you think would make it more interesting, more entertaining, stronger or more inspiring?
Lord, thank you for staying with us when
we lose our way.
You are the tree giving us shade when
we need to rest.
You are the mountain calling us higher when
we need to stand back up and keep climbing.
May our work be done for your glory.
Energize us, focus us and guide us
on your way.
Tell me your thoughts!
What projects have you had that started strong but lagged in the middle?