Always concentrate on how far you have come, rather than how far you have left to go. The difference in how easy it seems will amaze you. ~ Heidi Johnson
Given the source of this quote, it is likely referring to fitness and strength training. But I find it equally applies to other aspirations and life goals, too. Whether it is a relationship in need of repair, or a career milestone you’re striving to attain, sometimes the best motivation to keep trying is to look back at what you’ve already accomplished.
Most of the time, I measure myself by results. Did I pass the bar exam? Did I get the job? Did I close the deal? Am I a good mom (jury is still out on this one!)? You get the picture; it is always about the outcome. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking can destroy enthusiasm during the process, especially when the undertaking is extremely challenging. Once you lose your inspiration, it is unlikely you will ever meet your goal. Even if you do succeed, you probably won’t enjoy the process.
There are days now when I become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the process, the competition, the social media piece, and other aspects of trying to become a published author. At times it seems it would be more productive to simply bang my head against the keyboard than to type another paragraph. And, two plus years into the process, I still haven’t found and agent or inked a publishing contract [insert self-pity here].
But then I take stock of what I’ve achieved so far. My first manuscript was a great learning experience and ignited this passion in me. My second has had some positive feedback (third place contest finalist and an offer from a small press publisher). My third (a second place contest finalist) might just be the book that lands me an agent and a more traditional publishing contract. When I look in the rearview mirror, the past two years look a lot more productive, and I find the mettle to keep trying, to face more rejection, and to dig deep and revise those manuscripts yet again!
I think it is, in fact, this “looking back” that helped me make the difficult decision to decline the publishing offer. Why did I do something that runs counter to my goal? Well, there are several reasons, but the most significant was my gut telling me that, despite the offer, the book isn’t quite ready. I took stock of my long-term goals and weighed them against the short-term gain of saying “I’m published”…and decided to wait and work harder. If I’d focused only on the result, then I might be able to say “I’m published,” but I might not ultimately be proud of the book that readers would purchase.
In any case, it would all be moot if I thought too much about the difficulty of my challenges instead of focusing on taking one step at a time. Maybe you are considering a career change, getting married or divorced, starting a family, losing weight, or caring for a sick family member. In any of those circumstances, projecting to far ahead could be self-defeating. When you find yourself being weighed down by the obstacles, start humming the tune the Winter Warlock in Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town likes to sing, and do as he suggests: “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door!”
Have a great weekend!