The Lack Of Progress May Be a Progress If You Need a Break

I’m not okay, and it’s okay

Photo by Gratisography

Have you ever hated the thing you love?

When I thought about writing, I wanted to puke. I did everything to avoid it. Another success story would be nice, but here is the truth: Success is mostly failure.

Even when I have a dream of writing, I procrastinate.

No amount of discipline will eradicate the days when I won’t do the work. When I’ll resist doing anything. I’m no David Goggins.

In life, you can be certain not only of death and taxes but also of failure.

For all of you who are not yet Goggins-like machines, here is a story of finding success in the inevitable failure to deliver on your expectations.

The Struggle Is Real

We all have an image of ourselves we hold dear.

Too dear.

We do crazy shit to protect it, including lying, hurting, and shouting. The funny thing is it doesn’t exist outside. It’s only inside of our minds.

Defending it is crazy.

And the image I have of myself is of a disciplined, well-organized, and intelligent man. I finish what I start. When I plan to work, I do the work.

The image is quite heroic.

People like to see discipline. I love discipline. So, when I don’t deliver, I suffer. Because my image of myself is not in sync with my actions. That’s the price of sticking to it too much.

Sometimes, I’m the opposite of disciplined and organized.

I watch Netflix, and I condemn it so often. In addition, I snack. The fact my actions diverged from my self-image made me loathe myself. The harder I fight the crisis, the longer it lasts. That’s because I attached value to what I think I am.

The truth is I’m what I’m doing the most.

When I sit down, watch something, and eat salty chips without judgment — I feel fine. Because I’m still a writer, and I’m still disciplined.

If you think you’re doing something wrong because you took a day off, you struggle, too. The last thing you need is self-loathing, which will show up if you hold your image too dear. Give yourself some breathing room. Judging yourself is useful only to find solutions to your problems. One step too far, and you end up with shame.

Get Out of Motivational Limbo

Why on earth would you not do what you dreamt of doing?

A story is as old as the world. Because doing that seems painful and hard. When it comes to writing, I see no significant success. Article after article, I get a couple of views. Slow growth has been killing me.

The truth is I write for the result, not for the pleasure.

I’m waiting for exponential growth and all the money flowing into my pocket. That’s why it was so hard to sit down and write. There were little to no results, so I got demotivated. Demotivated to do the thing that makes me feel alive.

I have faced the issue before.

In the past, I fought against the limbo. I tried every way out:

  • coffee,
  • going for a walk,
  • sleeping,
  • meditating,
  • running,
  • walking.

Those helped my mood, but I didn’t write.

Motivation hates being pursued.

When you desire it, you scare it away. It shows up when your work aligns with your wants. To escape the limbo, know what you want and why. Stop lying to yourself to look good. If you focus on the result, admit it yourself.

The truth will set you free.

Deal With The Guilt

Whenever I deliver less than I expect, I feel guilty.

I avoided writing either way. And, you guessed it, I felt guilt. But this time, it was different.

I also felt free.

The reason for my inaction was the mismatch between my self-image and reality. When it comes to writing, I thought I did it for pleasure. I did it for results: for the comments under the article, engagement, and money.

So, I was lying.

You could feel it in my writing. I wrote what I guessed people would like instead of what I thought. It’s tiring. People who connected with my writing might get hooked because of my guessing. They might’ve been attracted to the thing I came up with. I’d have to keep the alter ego alive to keep them engaged.

That’s why, over the last week, I did everything not to write.

It was peak procrastination. The lack of huge success made me think I needed to publish a masterpiece now. That one article that will change everything. I’ve sent a candidate to a Better Humans publication. When I read it the next day, I understood it was okay, nothing more.

I’m afraid of failing.

That article will probably flop, like all the rest of my creations. And that’s okay only if I can enjoy the process, not the results. None of my creations will ever be perfect.

Maybe none of them will earn money. Why not do it either way? Why not lower the cost of failure so low that it’s a sin not to try?

Accepting the fact I wrote for results got me back on track.

The guilt comes from delivering less than what you think you should deliver. You need to understand where it is coming from. You may feel guilt when you act for the wrong reasons. And you may feel it when you don’t do enough. It’s on you to know.

When the feeling of freedom accompanies the guilt, you must check if your motivation aligns with your actions. Do you do it because you enjoy it, or do you care only about the result?

I’m Not Okay, And It’s Okay

Justifying inaction never helped me.

Finding excuses makes me stuck. Some think it’s self-care to justify not doing what you planned. For me, self-care is accepting what happened to learn for the future. The excuses are procrastination.

I can’t force myself to do the work.

If there is an underlying issue I’m unaware of, I have to find it first. And that might require doing nothing. When I rested, I understood what I was chasing — results. My motivation was not sustainable.

No progress was a progress.

There is no reason to despair after not following your plans. That happens. It doesn’t mean it’s okay. It means you have to get over it. The goal is to minimize the time between failure and another try.

The only way is forward.

But not in a way you have to deliver everything now. No. There is time for reflection. There is time for working all day. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But for today, I know that patting myself on the back when I fail is not what I need.

I also don’t need to judge myself as worthless.

I need to:

  • Accept that I failed.
  • find a reason for failure.
  • look for solutions to my problem
  • Act on fixing the problem

If nothing works, I might have been solving the wrong problem.

My problem was not writing too little. I was writing for reasons misaligned with my dream of being a writer.

Final Thoughts

All of us have an ego we hold too dear at times. It’s okay, too. Let’s not stick to it so much. Maybe it’s here to stay forever, but nothing forces us to defend it at all costs. Then, the guilt of not being enough gets a bit more acceptable.

It’s okay to lose the way. What’s not okay is denying we lost it. We can learn nothing when we assume we already know. And we can improve anything when we know there is more to discover.

You are never finished. There is always something wrong with you. You’re not okay. But that’s okay. You can become better. We all can.

When you fail, treat your failure as progress. You found another way not to do it. Find success in failures.

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