We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand — and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late.” ~Marie Beynon Ray
As snow falls here in the Northeast, blanketing us with white so deep we have no choice but to stay inside, it’s a good time to ponder our goals. Back in January, when the year was new and shiny, many of us made resolutions. Often by now, we’re off track, and all those promises we made to ourselves seem even farther from reach because we’ve also lost our motivation. The passion that birthed those resolutions has long since died. And that makes it easy to forget our dreams and plans, to let the pressing details of everyday life keep us stuck.
We have so many commitments, we have little time to squeeze in the things that are dear to our hearts. Perhaps an emotional or physical crisis is draining our time and energy. Once this is over, we tell ourselves we’ll make time for writing. But before that difficulty passes, another takes its place, and soon we’re spending all our time dealing with emergencies. We shelve our dreams, but it’s “only for now,” we promise ourselves. We’ll get back to it someday, but soon a few days stretches into weeks, months, or even years.
So how do we stay motivated once reality has set in, and we’re not finding time for our writing or other important projects?
One of my favorite pieces of advice is to look back for motivation and forward for inspiration. Planning and dreaming can inspire us to move ahead, but looking back can be valuable to see how far we’ve come. I’ve found it’s often the perfect solution to getting unstuck.
The key to looking back is not to beat yourself up over uncompleted projects, but to remember your past successes. Even if it seems these have been few or nonexistent, reframe your past from a positive perspective.
For many years, my only progress consisted of stacks of rejection letters, half-finished manuscripts, and a brain full of ideas. Although I put in work, I didn’t feel a real sense of accomplishment. Now I wish I could go back and appreciate those achievements, because if it weren’t for those years of drudgery and disappointment, I wouldn’t be published today.
So wherever you are on your journey (whether in writing or other pursuits), honor the hard work you’ve put in — even if it didn’t bring the rewards you hoped. Find a way to keep track of what you’ve done and celebrate the small milestones along the way. Rejection letters indicate you’ve been submitting, partially finished manuscripts prove you’ve been writing, doodles in your sketchbook show you’ve been drawing. Yes, you may not have gotten as far as you’d hoped, but rather than looking at where you expected to be, rejoice in how far you’ve come. You’ve made progress, and that’s the most important thing.
Another way to look back is to ask yourself what you wish you’d accomplished at the end of your life. So many times, we forgo the important things for the petty. How valuable are the activities taking up your time each day? Would you rather spend your time sweeping dust bunnies in the guest bedroom or touching lives with an important message? Thinking in terms of an eternal perspective can also be motivating.
And as the quote (and the Bible) reminds us, we have no guarantee of tomorrow; the only time we have allotted is now. This point was driven home to me this week when a beloved writer I know lost her battle with cancer. Although those of us who knew her mourn her loss, we’re grateful for the books she’s left behind – books that still have the power to change lives for years or even generations to come. What about you? Are you waiting for someday? If God has given you a message to share, do it now. Don’t put it off until it’s too late.
Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of several Amish series in print or forthcoming – Sisters & Friends series, Hearts of Amish Country series, and Love & Promises series – as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Books. She also writes the contemporary inspirational series, Hope Chapel, and the first novella in that series, Angels Unaware, recently released. Her March release, Buried Secrets, is on blog tour with Celebrate Lit. You can connect with Rachel on Facebook and her website.