As entrepreneurs, bloggers… content creators of all types, we tend to get so wrapped up in the creation process that when it doesn't just flow out of us and into whatever format we're trying to will into existence, we feel like we didn't get enough done.
Phew… talk about a run-on sentence, huh? Maybe I should stop there… good progress on managing to get that out without becoming a jumbled mess. 😉
In all seriousness, we can't make any progress at all if we don't permit ourselves to make it. We have to recognize that the work will take time and that if we want to see the results of our efforts, we need to let the work happen reasonably.
I don't need this.
How many times have you told yourself that? I know I have… too many to count. If you're anything like me, then you've been guilty of "not needing this" in your projects. You do a little of something that doesn't make an impact, and you decide that you don't need to work on it anymore — a bit of time wasted.
That's a perfectly good choice to make, by the way, that doesn't make you a bad person if you choose it. You'll likely learn something along the way — but progress will be slower. I've learned that when I tell myself that I don't "need" something, it's usually because I'm feeling overwhelmed.
Are you a writer? Did you write?
Writers write. It's just what they do. If you're a writer and you only muster a few words today -- at least you made some progress. Chances are you not only wrote a few words, but you spent some time researching what you wanted to write about.
Or at the very least thought about it. Remember, even the best writers had days they didn't write much if anything at all.
Ask yourself why you didn't write. If it was something you can control, then do something about it. Set yourself up for success tomorrow. Don't let the failure compound. Bounce back like a champ.
Did you write today? Excellent. Even if it wasn't as many words as you wanted to get done, you made progress. Good enough is good enough. Don't beat yourself up.
🚀 Got a second? Because I'm curious -- as someone seeking inspiration during the content creation process, what would you search for in Google to learn about it?
Are you a designer? Did you design?
Designers design. If you're a designer and today you can only tweak the font ligature on the new poster you're working on -- at least you made some progress. Chances are, you not only made the perfect ligature changes, but you iterated on the idea several times before crafting the smoothest glyph.
Did you design today? Excellent. Even if it wasn't as much of the illustration you hoped to get done, at least you made some progress. Good enough is good enough.
Set realistic goals you can actually reach
Setting goals is an interesting thing. Quick to-do lists work well for short bursts of productivity. But the moment the list is too long, it becomes a burden.
Goals have a similar limiter -- realism. If you set a goal of, say, 300 blog posts in the next three months, you're probably not going to reach it -- not even close (unless you can spend a ton of money and hire an army of writers).
The hidden trick to creating goals is to make just at the edge of your capability. If you usually write 500 words in one sitting, maybe set a goal for 550. While it's more than you typically finish, the extra 50 words aren't so far out of the realm of possibility you can push yourself to reach it.
And then maybe next time, you can set 600 words as your new goal.
Set goals you think you can reach. Even if it's just a little bit more, give yourself something to strive for that you never thought possible.
Don't let the lack of productivity slow you down.
There will be days when you're significantly less productive than you want to be. For instance, today for me. I hoped this guide would be done by now. But I fell asleep at the keyboard, woke up with a crick in my neck, took some painkillers, a hot shower, and passed out…
A few hours later, I should have completed the guide, but instead, I'm waking up for a late, late dinner and trying to decide if I should drink some coffee and power through this guide -- or go back to sleep and make tomorrow the day.
I chose tomorrow. Which meant I went a day without hitting publish on a guide! But I managed to get 500-ish words done before passing out, so I just thought "good enough" to myself and realized that perhaps sometimes sleep is more important.
The fact you're now reading this guide means tomorrow was a better day for me.
Just because you have an off day, or even two or three, doesn't mean all is lost, and you can't make a comeback. Of course, you can. And besides, the world can wait an extra day or two to discover your creation. There's no good reason to get worked up about it.
Review your sources of inspiration.
Here's a trick that can get you going. First, start with "why." Why are you creating what you are creating? Who are you making it for? What inspired you to do this?
Is it a person? An outcome? Maybe you can daydream real quick what it would be like when your creation is alive, and you can reap the rewards.
Or maybe it's a YouTube video with amazing high-energy music and visuals. I guess my point is, whatever your inspiration is, think about it -- revisit it. Gain some energy from it. Let it fuel your next move.
If you're a writer, take a look through some of the blogs you admire and see what kind of writing they do.
Relish in the discomfort, use the energy
Do you feel shitty when you can't reach the goal you set? Does it give you a nagging feeling that you have to break away from whatever non-productive thing your doing and get some work done?
It's a strange feeling, isn't it? It's not pain, but it almost hurts. It's not an illness, but it does make you a little sick to your stomach. It makes you restless even after you've slept.
All good signs to run and create right now.
This is why your goal needs to be realistic. You can harness this discomfort and use it to drive you toward your goal. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when you reach the goal and get what you wanted to be done is fantastic.
And avoids the discomfort.
Build your character and self-esteem.
This probably seems like an odd thing to discuss in a guide about making some progress -- but it's also about good enough. It means don't beat yourself up when you only get some of what you hoped done.
Be the stronger person than that person you feel like you are today because you failed to create (phew, that's a tongue twister).
You are the person who you make yourself when it gets hard. The real you is somewhere in there. And so, even though you might not have gotten as much done today -- that's OK. It means tomorrow will be a better day.
The more you learn to get over this, the easier it becomes to the point where it won't bother you anymore. You'll realize that the days you don't get much done are just days you don't get as much done.
Chances are you are not in a field where your work absolutely must be done, or else there are dire consequences. A writer must write. A designer must design.
Be strong. Get even just a tiny bit of something done each day. Good enough. Don't let the fear of failure stop you in your tracks. Take no guilt. It's life.
Productivity will come and go, but you'll always be there -- doing what you do.
Remember to love the process, not the outcome.
Don't forget when you're going through all this and your project takes time to complete -- love the process. Enjoy the time you spend writing or designing. Relish in the research and thinking you do to make this yours.
Because if the process is right, and you love doing it, the outcome you seek will inevitably become true for you -- just like the process that inspired you.
Good enough, no matter how long it takes, is good enough. You have to learn to ship, and the only way to ship is by making progress until your project is ready.
You've got this. I know you do. Get it.