Defying the twitchy-twitch — modification for the right reasons (Archived)
Why am I doing this? Why bother? Maybe I should just…
Whether it’s an exercise routine, a healthy eating plan, quitting something that’s bad for us or investing ourselves in a new project we all get ambushed by the twitchy-twitch urge to give up. It sneaks in as a wavering of determination, a flag in our energy, a shift in our thoughts. Its that perfectly reasonable voice posing that easier, more pleasant alternative. Our minds are very good at rationalising: we can talk ourselves into thinking the decision we are making is for all the right reasons.
Is it? How do we know?
Its six months since I hit the ‘publish’ key on this website, catapulting myself into a public space for the first time. It has been a dramatically steep learning curve, forcing me to learn new skills and be brave, focused and consistent. It’s time to review my social media and communications strategy: what I am doing, why, and what value it’s bringing into my life.
Any modifications we make to a lifestyle change need to be for the right reason. Throwing in the towel because a project is hard or getting boring may not be bringing you closer to your goals. When the urge to change up your systems or routines hits you like a shovel in the face, its worth taking a few moments to properly evaluate what we are looking to change and why.
We need to give any plan or routine sufficient time before we surge in to change it up.
Giving a plan sufficient time before review ensures:
1. We are not being reactive. You don’t want to whiplash about dramatically, reacting to something someone said or a bad week. You should take time to reflect on why you are considering a change, whether you are changing for the right reasons, toward a higher purpose.
2. You’ve given it a red hot go. New tasks are awkward. You fumble. You learn. Things feel clunky and awkward at first and we need to push past that.
3. Self-discipline and staying power. This is an important skill in a world where people are becoming easily distracted and avoidant of discomfort, slinking off down the path of least resistance. Working through challenges and leaning into discomfort prevents us from giving up the moment things get hard, or we get distracted, or something prettier winks at us.
4. We’ve worked past the end of the honey-moon phase. Once we’ve been doing something for a time the joy and gloss slides off and it begins to feel like hard work. This isn’t a bad thing — this is reality. Ensure you’re not stopping out of laziness.
5. You’ve given it time to work. Don’t give up too soon!
Ideally, we set a plan to review our strategy in advance so it’s a planned thing, not a result of having a bad week or someone giving you some negative feedback that makes you question everything. For me, six months was a reasonable length of time. A lot needed to happen in those six months — I had a huge amount of learning, research and practice to do
We can assess a process or strategy by:
1. Identifying what you doing, and why. I am very visual so I like to map things out on a sheet of paper or in a table
2. What are you investing in each aspect (time, money, energy)
3. What are you getting out of it? What value is it bringing into your world? This may be complex. For instance my Fortnight Features do not have a broad reach audience-wise BUT they pressure me to create more new pieces then I need to send out into the world and force me to confirm my determination to be brave by pushing the ‘publish’ key every fortnight
4. How does it make you feel? What emotions does it bring to play? You may need to unpack this, as again it can be complex: for example, my Fortnight Features is a huge amount of stress and pressure for me, BUT this makes me produce more then ends up as a Fortnight Feature. Its very uncomfortable putting my work into a pubic space BUT I am still constantly fighting the desire to dive back under a rock like I did for the first 20 plus years of my writing so going toe to toe with my fear and eyeballing discomfort keeps me brave!
It’s important any new plan you create:
1. Is for the right reasons (not reactive, not taking a path of least resistance)
2. Is clearly defined — what, when, how
3. Is actioned — for me this is putting reminders through my diary right up until the next review date
4. Has a review date, again ensuring time and space to give it a red hot go and preventing you tossing in the towel for the wrong reason.
A note on being kind to ourselves:
We can only predict the predictable. I can, for instance, predict periods of being very discouraged and ready to give up. I can predict I will get busy and distracted and want to modify things to take an easier path.
We can predict patterns in our energy, creativity, enthusiasm and faith in ourselves and the project. These things should be balanced out by self-discipline, planning and raw grit and determination.
There are other things that will flare up in our lives like significant health or mental health issues or personal tragedies which cannot be predicted. Taking time out of anything for the right reasons is being kind to ourselves. Energy is a finite resource. When the world changes, our plans need to change too.
Where to from here for me:
I commit to continuing to post short stories fortnightly. My blog will shift to once a week and my newsletter will become once every four weeks.
(Posted 23 May 2020. Follow me at: https://nicolewalshauthor.com/)