Yesterday I felt like giving up.
I felt lethargic, unmotivated and when I looked at the drivel I was producing I really began to question why exactly I was waking up at an ungodly hour each morning to churn out such tripe.
I slowly came to a very important realization.
My focus had shifted. Instead of focusing on the process. I had become obsessed with the outcome. This is a slippery slope that can lead all the way down to Quittersville*.
I had been seduced by the annoying yet persistent compulsion to constantly check my statistics, followers, and engagement on Medium. If my writing received little in the way of virtual love I allowed it to affect me on a personal level. Even worse, I let it affect my writing. How disappointing.
Once I became aware of this I knew I need to reshift my focus back to the process rather than the end result.
I really wanted to throw in the towel, but I didn’t.
Netflix called out to me the same way a siren can lure sailors from the sea with their enchanting voices. There was nothing I wanted more than to adopt the fetal position and binge watch really, really crappy shows on Netflix, but I didn’t.
Here is what I did instead
I knuckled down and tried to write something that was actually decent. For myself and also to create something of value for the reader who takes the time to read what I have written.
‘ In the real world, no one is waiting to read what you’ve written ‘
Sorry, but it is true.
‘ This is not because people are cruel but simply because they are busy ‘
Steven Pressfield suggests that a writer should view writing
‘ as a transaction between the writer and the reader. The reader donates his time and attention to reading what you have written which are extremely valuable commodities. In return you the writer must give something of value ‘
If a reader is willing to devote some of their precious time to actually read what I have written then it is my duty as a writer to try to make it as good as I possibly can.
What happened next surprised me and taught me a valuable lesson
When I shifted my focus from the end result back to the process a wondrous thing happened. What I wrote received more followers, claps, and engagement than any article I have previously written.
The irony of this made me laugh.
I was also quite proud of the fact that I had not given up. By persevering, I learned a valuable lesson.
When I feel like giving up it is a pivotal moment. I am right on the cusp of self-improvement, personal growth and poised to take a giant leap towards self-mastery.
Yet it is so easy to pause, stop and lose the will to keep persevering.
So how exactly can I put measures in place that ensure I keep persisting?
A shift in focus is required
Where I focus my energy is crucial.
Focusing on the outcome is detrimental. I do not have any control over the end result.
Of course, I can work towards a goal but the outcome and results along can fluctuate wildly and will not always be to my liking. If I focus on the outcome, there is an extremely high chance that I chuck in the towel when I perceive that I am not doing well or failing.
What I can control is the process. I can repeatedly show up and do the work required. When the focus becomes my primary concern, I can make great strides towards mastering my craft.
This is not to say that comments, followers and engagement are not important, of course, they are. I really appreciate it when readers take the time to comment and engage with me and always reply to each and every comment.
However, I cannot make anyone praise my writing. If what I have written truly resonates with readers then they will reach out to me.
If I write merely as a way to attract more followers, then chances are that it will be pure and utter drivel. However, if I write with authenticity and be vulnerable there is a high chance that my writing will not be so bad, it might even be good.
However, if I focus on creating genuinely good content with the intention of creating something of value it generates genuine engagement.
This shift in focus is necessary to sustain momentum and continually strive towards mastering the craft. It allows me to be fully absorbed with the process. Everything else is secondary.
Take Elon Musk for example who knows a thing or two about achieving goals and is perhaps best known for revolutionizing two completely unrelated industries simultaneously.
In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future a book authored by Ashley Vance chronicle the history of failures which occurred at both of his companies Tesla and SpaceX in their battle for dominance in their respective fields.
Yet, quitting was never an option for either company despite the recurring public failures and the fact that they were both at one point hemorrhaging money to the extent that Elon was on the brink of bankruptcy. This seems to be a testament to Musk’s unrelenting perseverance and deep-rooted desire to solve problems for the future of humanity.
‘ For me, it was never about money, but solving problems for the future of humanity. ‘
It is important to know what is your why
If I do not know why I am doing something there is a high chance that I will quit.
When I feel like giving up if I do not have a good reason to keep going then it is easy to throw in the towel.
Why do I write?
I write because I have a compulsion to write.
I write in order to better understand myself, my place in the world and others.
I write because I view words as one of the most powerful and magical things in this world. When I read a well-written passage it has the power to evoke emotion and stay in my memory only to be resurrected at a time when I need it the most.
More importantly, I write because I want to excel and master the craft. This is why I will continue to wake at an ungodly hour each morning.
Knowing my why will sustain my dedication and instills in me a deep desire to keep learning. When doubt creeps into my mind and I question what I am doing — I will have an answer.
Change how I view the struggle
When I feel like giving up, what does it feel like?
There is this intense invisible resistance.
A sort of force field that is trying to prevent me from moving forward and disrupt my momentum.
It feels uncomfortable. This is a sign that I am leaving my comfort zone and venturing towards unknown territory.
I have changed how I perceive this form of struggle.
I now view it as a test. It determines if I really want the thing that I am chasing and how bad do I want it.
If I don’t really want it I will merely give up whenever an obstacle blocks my path.
However, if I desire something with a burning intensity I will not let anything stop me.
This is why I will keep persisting and never give up. I will succeed and slowly but surely edge towards mastery.
Socrates demonstrated long ago that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own mastery.
I choose the path towards mastery, whatever difficulties it may bring. I choose to be free.
What is your view on not giving up or quitting? If you have the time I would love to read your comment below.
- Quittersville is a place which may be perceived as imaginary yet it is all too real. A region where broken dreams and unfulfilled goals go to die and not somewhere a driven, passionate and curious being should ever venture.