“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” – EpictetusSometimes we wait until we “feel” like doing it. The problem is, we may never feel like it. Usually, the motivation to do something comes after we get started. The hardest part about working out at the gym is often just getting yourself to go to the gym. The hardest part about writing is just sitting down and getting started. If you can eliminate the barriers to getting started, then your chance of success is far greater than waiting for inspiration. Control One the most important factors though is what Epictetus reminds us:
“To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.” – EpictetusSometimes, we attach some kind of negative emotion to the task we’re trying to accomplish. The task may feel overwhelming, or just plain scary. We may be too focused on wanting a specific outcome and we’re afraid that we won’t be able to do it. By focusing on the things that we can control, then we can focus our time and energy on something that will actually have some impact, and not waste our time on things we can’t control Distractions Most people who are successful create a process for accomplishing what they want. They figure out what they have control over, then put down the steps to accomplish their task, and then they follow those steps every time. They create an environment where it’s easy for them to fall into that routine, and where there are limited distractions. Marcus Aurelius said,
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”If there is something that is distracting you, if it is something within your control, you find ways to either take care of it right then or plan time to take care of it later. If it is something you can’t control, you let go of it. For example, Stephen King sits down and writes 10 pages every day. He doesn’t care if they are good. He writes 10 pages while listening to the same Metallica album at a little desk in his office. He doesn’t wait to feel motivated. He removes all distractions and just does the task he set out for himself in his routine, and he does it every day. Create Your Plan You can start off by asking yourself some questions (I’d suggest writing the answers down):
- What are the things that I can control?
- What are the steps that I need to take?
- What are the tools I need to accomplish it?
- What are the obstacles in my way?
- Are there other potential obstacles that I can think of?
- What steps can I take to work through those obstacles?
- What can I do to create an environment that eliminates distractions and helps me focus?
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