Whatever you love to do, aspire to be, or dream of creating, keep at it.
Keep at it every day. Even if for just a bit. Think of it as your craft, something you need to stay close to, something that requires nurturing, like gardening or singing or cooking. If you don’t attend to it, you’ll lose your place, and lose your rhythm.
I went to boot camp this morning. It’s an exercise class I go to with my wife in the middle of the night at 5:15am. Or I used to go to. I haven’t been in weeks, and after I rubbed my eyes, and looked around during the warm-up I felt like I didn’t know half the people there. I turned to my friend Karen and whispered, “I haven’t been here for so long the clientele has turned over.” Even the warm-up routine was different. It’s called a routine, and it felt entirely new to me. That’s how long it had been. I had lost touch a little.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, says she writes a little bit every day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. The novelist John Updike once said the best novels in the world were written less than an hour at a time. The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. was commissioned in 1907, and completed 83 years later in 1990. Which means it was started, and then completed over multiple professional lifetimes. To work on something that won’t be finished in your lifetime takes vision, and patience.
Think of your work, your dream, your aspiration as a verb, not a noun. In an interview we had recently with Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy, he talked about understanding our purpose as not a noun, but instead a verb. It’s an act of constantly becoming, not a destination.
It’s the same with all of our goals. If we want to become an athlete (noun), it happens through the constant, and diligent practice of exercising. If we want to write a book (noun), it happens through regular writing. And if we want to help build our communities, it happens one conversation at a time.
As we have learned from studies with Harvard researchers, making progress in work we find meaningful is the most powerful motivator of all. Money, praise, support, recognition, and vision are all important, but making progress has the biggest likelihood of triggering a feeling of a “great day.” The most common event triggering a “worst day” was a setback.
Focus on making incremental progress, identifying catalysts around you, and nourishing the progress of others. Uplifting others is also positive progress.
We just released our new micro-learning series Small Acts of Leadership which focuses on how to make small, incremental progress, each, and every, day. Message us if you’re interested and we’ll send you a preview. Enjoy!