I’ve been consistently writing on this blog since March 2020, and I’ve published at least one weekly article for the last 30 months. A critical aspect of that consistency, which I learned, is just showing up and starting.
Woody Allen even once said that 80% of success in life is just showing up, and the other 20% is following up.
Showing up means you are dedicated to doing your craft and ensuring that you will continuously do your work even if you don’t feel like it – whether you are tired, out-of-town, or just making excuses.
So, I want to share my writing journey and how it prepared me for something I never thought I would do full-time, which is freelance writing.
Why is showing up important?
When we discover new things that are very interesting to us, we become very excited and can’t wait to improve. We also become full of energy and extrinsic motivation, thinking it is enough to push us through.
However, extrinsic motivation is a scarce resource – meaning it can be depleted and is not sustainable in the long run. Once this motivation is exhausted, the excitement and energy we once had will be gone, and we will return to our old selves.
Think about a new hobby that you found. You start with enthusiasm and energy in the first few weeks or months. Then when a difficulty or change in schedule arrives, you set it aside, and it simply goes away from your system and is forgotten.
So, showing up means that regardless of what you do and what you feel (unless you’re sick), you will still do what you have to do – even if it means you’re not at your 100%.
You are not always at 100%
Showing up means not only being physically present but also mentally present. Though you may function at an optimal level on most days, some days will not go your way.
It is essential to be kind to yourself and know that you will not always be at 100%. You may be feeling down, you have received some bad news, or you just got busy.
So, it is also important to learn that you will not always produce your best output day in and day out, and that’s okay.
Start with something small.
That is why you need to start with a ridiculously small task. So small that you will have no excuse but to start.
For instance, when I am writing for a client, my current 100% is around 3,000 words per day, but I rarely achieve that number. However, I make sure that I can at least write the outline so that I know that I can continue it later the day or the next day.
I am also rebuilding my fitness habit, and I have to at least work out for 15 minutes, 3x a week. When I am reading, I have to read at least 5 minutes or one article for personal development per day. These minimum requirements are often just the starting point I need to jumpstart my day.
You can always start as low as 1%, but if you continue showing up, you will realize that your 1% will eventually increase.
Making excuses is easy, but is never productive.
It is easy to make excuses and procrastinate until the last day. However, procrastination is also a habit that we build.
There will be days when we don’t feel like doing anything, and we rationalize that we just lack motivation, but it is important to know that we will not always be motivated.
Since we don’t always have the motivation to move, we can compensate for it through discipline and avoiding making excuses beyond our control.
Improvement is inevitable
As long as you are showing up, improvement becomes inevitable.
I remember when I returned to writing this blog in March 2020 after almost two years of hiatus, there were only 56 views and 37 people who clicked the links during that month.
I could have stopped then and there because no one seemed interested, but I believe this blog can be much more and help others more, so I persevered.
When I started writing, I hoped to have at least one person visiting the blog read what I wrote daily. However, 30 months later, the viewership grew from less than 100 to thousands of monthly readers.
Though I had several times when I did not publish a post at the scheduled time, still, I pushed myself to write.
Look From a Longer Timeframe
There are many ways for us to improve in almost anything, and if we look at our daily output, we may be disheartened because it may look flat or even declining.
However, if we zoom out and look at our improvements from a longer timeframe, we will realize how much we have improved and how far we’ve gone.
When I started writing on this blog in 2017, I was nowhere near the writing skills I have today (though I still have a lot to learn). I was very insecure and wanted to hide what I wrote.
However, as the years went by and my skills improved, I also gained the self-confidence to share it on my social media accounts because I write with a purpose.
Showing up requires discipline – a lot of it. We need to understand that we will not always be at our best, but we can still do what we can.
Don’t give up when you’re just starting and it feels like nothing is happening. Remember that the positive things we do daily will add up, even if they are little, resulting in improvement.
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