Living your fullest life doesn’t come without challenges. You need the courage to press on.
Even when you approach life with optimism and hope, something happens that rocks you to the core. A chiding voice swells up within your head to remind you of your imperfections.
Frozen in fear, you stop.
What can you do to summon the courage to press on? Three actions will help you out of the mire of self-doubt.
1. Fight Resistance
We listen to Resistance—the number one enemy of artists and anyone trying to create. Steven Pressfield describes Resistance as the invisible, but insidious monster whose “aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
Resistance has an uncanny way of showing up at your doorstep at the most inopportune times. When you tackle a new project, take a risk in reaching out to try something new, or are on the verge of a breakthrough.
“Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation: it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.
The enemy is Resistance.
The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we need to do.”
Don’t give in. Accept that you will never have all the answers. You will never write the perfect first draft. You will never identify the one right way.
Why? Because you will never have anything to improve until you do the work. Doing the work, gives us a product, an outcome, the thing we can now improve. But until we get it out there, we only have a wish.
2. Up Your Grit
What does it mean to have grit? According to Angela Duckworth, grit is “working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.” It is a mindset. Grit includes our interests, practice, overarching purpose, and hope for the future.
But without it, Resistance has an easy entry into our head. Grit builds our defenses.
“We all face limits—not just in talent, but in opportunity. But more often than we think, our limits are self-imposed. We try, fail, and conclude we’ve bumped our heads against the ceiling of possibility. Or maybe after taking just a few steps we change direction. In either case, we never venture as far as we might have.
To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year in challenging practice.”
Whether you call it a habit, a routine, or a process, you need a lifeline that keeps the path clear. Doubt, frustration, and perfectionism will rush in. They will convince you that the effort far outweighs the reward. You will obsess on the obstacles. You will think you are not enough.
Think of habits as a way to stay the course. Mountain climbers rope themselves together for safety to reach the summit. The lead climber anchors the rope at fixed points in the rock to guide the rest of the team and prevent falling.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear gives this definition. “A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly—and in many cases, automatically.” He also contends “habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
Why do habits matter?
“Building better habits isn’t about littering your day with life hacks…It’s not about achieving external measures of success like earning more money, losing weight, or reducing stress. Habits can help you achieve all of these things, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone.”
Who do you want to become? You may not know, and that’s okay. If you never take the first step, you will never know what lies inside you.
You Won’t Find Magic
Nothing magical dwells within these three actions. But each requires the courage to continue the climb to what matters most to you.
Fill your mind with words that give you strength and courage to be your best. But take action. Do the work. And never give up. Keep fighting Resistance. Build your grit. Create habits that keep you going. Press on.