This is going to be one of those “gulp” blog posts that I’m sure I’ll regret writing but I feel like I probably should write.
People who are highly focused seem to be able to power through the darkest, greyist, loneliest, hardest times, fueled by a passion to excel at whatever they’re doing. I hate to admit it, but I’m not like that. I wish I was. There are times when I am but often it’s because I have to and don’t have an option to quit.
But what about those times when I do have the option to quit? If I were to be brutally honest with myself, I have to admit that when the going gets tough, I don’t get going as often as I’d like. I hate that about myself. Sometimes I can just keep going. But not as often as I’d like.
When I do get through, it’s often because of one of these three reasons:
- Sometimes I can look at what is still to come and I can push through. (For example, I’m doing a harsh circuit-training workout that consists of several one-minute exercises. By the end of the second or third circuit, I don’t want to continue but I can usually talk myself into pushing through because each exercise is only a minute long. “One more minute” I tell myself… and it’s sometimes enough to get going.
- And there are times when I rely on my memory to help me. I think back to some of the more difficult times in my life and I remind myself that whatever I’m pushing through now isn’t nearly as bad as what I’ve faced in the past.
- And there are times when I get inspired by the focus and resulting success that other people experience — sometimes people I know but more often than not it’s an athlete or a celebrity or something.
These three “tools” can often get me through the hardest pushes… when I remember them. But who can remember them every time when faced with those seemingly insurmountable obstacles? I wish I had some kind of mental trigger to remind me to access those tools.
Actually, I’d love to have enough of an internal drive that was so dedicated to my goal that I didn’t need these tools in the first place. I think part of the problem is that I’ve had a pretty comfortable middle-class life and I’ve been good in school and I’ve always landed on my feet during disruptions in life. So I wonder if I’ve dampened the flame.
As I write this, I think about the times when I did push through the dip and I achieved the focus to get what I wanted. The biggest thing was becoming a full-time professional writer. I always wanted to write and it took me a while to figure out how to make it happen. In that case, writing was something I burned for: I had a clear vision of what I wanted and I worked relentlessly for years through successes and setbacks to achieve it. So, if I want to achieve something else, how can I stoke those burning fires to push me through?
Now that I’ve shone the light on the underside of my rock and exposed all the dark crawly things, I throw out the same thoughts to you: How do you get through the dip when face it? What kind of “positive self talk” do you use to help you push through? What do you burn for? (And, what should you burn for that you honestly don’t yet?)