Becoming a Christian Warrior means facing adversity head on. In a previous post I said that no matter how many tricks you have up your sleeve, at some point you need to buckle down and get some hard work done.
I’m a writer (by night). I really love writing. I want to be a disgustingly successful writer.
The internet will try to tell you that this is how writers write:
This caricature is pleasing to the eye and makes writing look fun. People look at it and think “yeah, totally I could write. That’s such a great idea” (I may or may not be writing this very post on a macbook pro with a drink bottle and my smart phone sitting to my left all mounted on a (imitation) wooden tabletop).
Most people who look at pictures like the one above and think it would be cool to be a writer don’t really want to write. They like the idea of being a writer, because they paint a pretty picture of it in their mind. Really these people just want to sit on a park bench under a big shady oak, flip out a macbook air and sip a caramel latte the size of their head. It looks trendy and hipster. It also looks pretty easy.
Except that it’s not. Not the actual writing part. It takes effort, persistence and concentration. It takes skill and prerequisite knowledge. In order to be a writer, you have to write. There’s no shortcuts. No one will be playing eye of the tiger in the background. You have to spend a lot of time straining your brain for creative inspiration, with your fingers to the keyboard, pounding away, simultaneously letting the creativity flow and pushing the self criticism monster to the back of your mind. Not just that but you have to learn how to write (Yeah I know. It’s on my to do list). You have to take writing courses, read books, study grammar and punctuation, syntax, language, passive and active voice, etc. This stuff is hard, and sometimes boring.
Same goes for anything that adds value to the universe. No one is going to pay you money for something they could have done by themselves in five minutes. If you want to add value to the universe, you have to give it something valuable, something that you can’t just pull out of a hat.
At some point you are required to exert a level of mental or physical effort that no amount of coffee or aesthetics can help you with. Most people will reach that critical point, and that’s where they stop.
The reason most people stop short of that critical moment, is because the source of your motivation to take action was most likely some fleeting inspiration. Some clever advertisement, a movie, a song, a new years resolution, even a simple ‘aha’ moment can give you this motivation.
Fleeting inspiration is motivation sugar and like real sugar, it gives you a quick burst of energy, but is very temporary. Without anything to sustain it, it will quickly spiral into an energy deficit.
Motivation sugar is not necessarily a bad thing. For some people motivation sugar can be just what they need to get them started.
Another reason you will quit is because the amount of effort required was grossly underestimated. You were expecting that motivation sugar to be the persistent fire pushing you through, then when the motivation sugar runs out, you have nothing else to get you through. It is here that most people will question the goal.
You will be told that if you have a clear plan, and you have clear, well defined goals, and you have a ‘why’, and do a bunch of other simple sounding steps, then you will be able to stay on track and stay focussed. But again these organizational/time management hacks, despite being very useful, will still only get you so far.
When you hit that wall, you’ll ask yourself why is this so hard? I mustn’t be good enough. Maybe this isn’t for me afterall.
Wrong. Maybe it’s not for you, but that is not because it’s hard, and it’s definitely not because you’re not good enough.
Everything is hard. You have to expect this. You will occasionally (often) not enjoy the hard parts. In other words…
You have to learn to do things that you hate, to be able to do things that you love.
Realistically there’s not much that can help you here except raw grit. You have to make the very conscious choice to see something through, and to put yourself on the line when it matters.
In my experience the only thing that is able to truly ensure persistence, is pressure. There’s a reason that uni students can produce exceptional quality work 24 hours before a deadline. They’re under huge amounts of pressure. They have (essentially) no choice.
When you’re an employee, you have work to do. If you don’t do it, you’ll lose your job. That’s pressure.
Besides this you’re on your own. When you don’t have a monkey on your back, doing hard things means making hard choices and being realistic about the effort required. If all you have to keep you going is motivation sugar, you’re almost certainly going to fail. You have to be deeply determined.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though.
I said previously that ‘almost anything worth doing, is really, really hard’. When I said ‘worth doing’, I meant that it really is worth doing, because the outcome will pay huge dividends in some practical way, but also to your sense of self worth.
Whether it’s losing 50kgs, or changing careers, or saving someone from eternal judgement. You have to make the choice to do something hard; you have to realise that you will spend a lot of time not necessarily enjoying yourself, at least not in the way you’re probably used to.
There is joy in salvation, and there is satisfaction in working hard for the Lord.
When you’re committed, when you push through, when you do things you hate, you will learn to appreciate not just the outcome, but you will come to find a satisfaction in the process. A satisfaction that runs deeper than the momentary taste of a hot cup of joe, or a quick scan of your Facebook feed. A satisfaction that can continue to push through the adversity, again, and again, and again.
Success builds upon success, so start with the small wins, but be ready for when it gets tough, and don’t let it take you by surprise.
So tell me men, what has been your greatest source of adversity? What’s the itch that you’ve always wanted to scratch.
Maybe you have a bunch of stuff you’ve always ‘wanted’ to do, and like the hipster latte junkies you’re realising that maybe you were never really into all of them in the first place.
Are you going to narrow it down? Are you going to start somewhere?
Think about what you’re really looking for and let me know in the comments what it is.