An interview on NPR* brought to mind that some of the best advice often at first blush seems to be so ridiculous. The advice bites, but there is a nugget of truth that grabs the attention.
The interviewee is an author who was describing that the best way to keep writing was to…not stop. He has taught creative writing for over a decade and of the hundreds of students he has had only a few student that today continue to write. He does not care if they have published yet or not, but he wants them to keep going because for him that is the only way to be successful in writing. Writing is too personal, too tedious, too hard…to try and do in fits and starts.
The author is talking about writing (which is a unique animal), but I think successful people in any field would agree that simply not quitting is key. His method to teach writing then was to focus on the “inner resources” that people need to keep going and in persisting in something new and difficult.
The book author’s advice is similar to advice my friend got in the tough business of financial advisors. The question is how do you stay in the business? Answer: you stay in the business. You just make it happen.
“Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” Dean Karnazes
If the key then is not stopping, what are some of the resources we can tap into to keep going? Here are some that come to mind:
- Check if your why is big enough. A big why is essential fuel to keep going when the going gets tough. It will get tough.
- Stay a learner. Put aside the perfect and stay in that state of “I’m learning and growing.”
- Get fired up. Closely related to your why, always strive be in an enthusiastic state about what you are aspiring to achieve or be. Does the term tranquil inertia resonate with you? Recheck and get excited about why this is important to you.
- Keep it visible. People forget things so fast, even things they say are “so” important to them. Read any old New year’s resolutions lately? Sticky notes are your friend. (Tattoos too, but only if you are REALLY REALLY committed.)
What resources have worked for you to not quit?
* The author is Jonathon Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and his insights come near the end of the interview. https://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2016-09-08/jonathan-safran-foer-on-his-latest-novel-here-i-am