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As I sit here staring into this white void, patiently waiting for some sort of other-worldly jolt of electric inspiration, I can’t help but think about how often so many of us must find ourselves in this precarious situation.
We all know what I’m talking about.
We’re waiting for… the feeling.
Call it what you want — the insight, the creativity, the vision, the expression, the energy, the motivation, the muse, the forethought, the perspective, the scope, the finger oil, a good old fashioned brain-tickle, or maybe it’s just the desperate pleas of another amateur artist with their hands out, waiting for that heavenly grease to drip into the joints of their rusty knuckles to get their fingers an excuse to do something other than atrophy.
Embellishments aside, we all know the feeling I’m talking about and we all know the cost of sitting around waiting to feel motivated enough to actually get something done.
As so many of us know, the cost of waiting to feel good enough to actually create, is that, well, we never actually create.
One of the biggest obstacles to maneuver around when navigating your life and the plans and goals you lay out for yourself is simply pressing forward when you don’t want to.
When we sit around and wait for things to feel “good”, we’ll find that the majority of our time is spent waiting instead of not only making progress, but making anything.
The fleeting nature of new ideas.
Like any relationship, there’s nothing quite like the rush of a new idea. The initial excitement of something so fresh and interesting is enough to hypnotize your intentions and distract you from other, more pressing matters in your life. A new idea is its own living entity, gestating and growing inside your mind until it starts to kick the inside of your skull like an impatient newborn who’s antsy to get a head start on this whole living life business.
The problem with this sort of fixation on fresh ideas and the excitement that comes along with this sort of mental pregnancy, is that once we birth our idea into the world, we’re faced with the timeless responsibility of every new mother, which is that we have to actually raise the damn thing.
We can’t just expect to pop out a helpless blob of original artistry and expect it to already have its sea legs. It needs nurturing and care. It needs attention and most importantly, it needs you to show up even when you don’t want to. Like any neglected child, it will suffer and, in the worst cases, cease to exist if you choose to not show up every day to feed and raise it despite how you may be feeling.
Your ideas and plans will simply not grow into the fully formed real-world manifestations you wish them to be if you expect them to live on their own without your continual maintenance and attention.
The hard part to understand about this is that it means that your feelings about them don’t actually mean much after that initial spark that created them. Your destination doesn’t care how you feel about it after you’ve already set off on the journey. If you don’t keep taking steps forward despite your reluctance to carry on, you’re not going to make it there, simple as that.
This is all obviously a roundabout way of saying, “Keep pursuing your dreams, even when you don’t feel like it,” but sometimes it helps to look at cliché advice through a more visual lens than simply trying to understand another tired phrase at face value.
Just look at me right now. I started this article from a place of wanting to do anything but write. The white void of an empty Word Doc, or blank canvas, or any other open space for untethered creation is like looking into the eye of God, equally terrifying and awe-inspiring. It’s equal parts love of potential and fear of the unknown. It comes with the territory and can’t be avoided. But here I am, another article in the bag and more growing trust in my ability to shake off the reluctancy to start and just get shit done.
We can’t wait for things to feel good before we start doing them. It’s the problem of so many people who wish to have the reward without the work. They want to feel the excitement they felt at the start of their journey the entire time and that’s just not going to be the case. Not every day is going to start with a stretch and a smile and the anxious jitters to get crackin’ on your favorite project like you’re a rabid kid on Christmas foaming at the mouth at the thought of tearing into your presents.
Pressing forward in the face of your own hesitancy is such an important skill to develop as you learn how to better understand yourself and your own motivations for continuing on your path.
Consistently showing up to care for your newborn idea despite how you may be feeling about it is the only way it’s going to survive long enough to fulfill the potential you know it has.
Show up, sit down, stare at this white mirror and even give your eyes a good roll if you have to.
Just keep going.