Friday, June 16, 2017
Have Gumption — Will Travel
If you have the gumption to start something and get the job done, you will go places. At least, that's the prevailing opinion. Perhaps it applies well to those one-shot deals. But when it comes to "jobs" which require repeated effort, day after day, it takes more than that initial spark of gumption. It takes persistent follow-through.
That's one thing I've noticed while knocking out posts, day after day, on A Family Tapestry—and, apparently, so have some of you, if comments like one shared by Gayle from Family Research and Me a few days ago are any indication. Whether you've chosen to blog once a month, once weekly, or spring for the overly-ambitious once a day—what were we thinking?—it takes a lot more than that initial spurt of gumption to come back, time and time again, and crank out something not only coherent, but useful (or at least inspiring).
So it's persistence that we need to add to our arsenal of character traits if we wish to show up, no matter what, the next time. And granted, persistence is no second-class quality. It is indeed a rare commodity, in the realm of the human condition.
Why would I say that? Because I know. I suffer terribly with that writer's disease known as procrastination. My self-talk is a skill finely honed to talk me out of anything—as long as I can convince myself I can do it later.
That, as you can imagine, doesn't work when you've committed to a once-a-day schedule. "Later" becomes a no-show when it's a daily schedule you've promised yourself.
Fortunately for me, I've long ago learned to promise myself one thing: the task I commit to doing daily, I'll get done, even if it means hauling myself out of bed at midnight because I forgot to follow through.
I didn't learn it with blogging, of course. I learned it with a tiny project I started, years ago: a promise to myself to do one specific task every day, no matter what. Granted, it was a task that took all of five minutes to complete, but sometimes I forgot my promise—hence those post-midnight episodes of laying my weary head down on my pillow, only to realize with a start that I couldn't sleep...yet.
Habits always start small, and so do changes to habits. That's why I've never been a champion of New Year's resolutions. Or even to-do lists. I already know I won't do them, so why try? Each time I fail only ingrains that sinking-pit-of-the-stomach feeling even more deeply. I don't want to entrench that groove of failure more deeply. I want to learn success, not failure.
Of course, that was a mind trick which worked for me: choosing something small to do every day without fail, because choosing an incredibly fail-safe smallness, when completed successfully, day after day, builds the confidence to win. Again.
What works for you may be a different approach. That is likely why GeneaBloggers was first formed. And why, despite Thomas MacEntee's recent take on business prospects for blogs, GeneaBloggers still fills a need in encouraging bloggers and has morphed into the new GeneaBloggersTribe. There, a host of prompts and encouragements served up by the new Tribe team should suffice for encouragement to keep that blogging inspiration going.
However, only you can determine what works—for you. Hence the need to experiment. Perhaps even cast an eye on reports of what works for others, as long as you remember that each one of us is different, and what works for your best friend—or even your worst enemy—may not make the slightest dent in your own will power.
With the gumption to start, the willingness to experiment in growing a new aspect of "you" and the commitment to keep at it, time after time, you will eventually build that persistence muscle which will power you through bigger, more demanding tasks. Like keeping at your blogging project.
Gumption, after all, is what provides the spark to get going. Once you've lit that fire, you need to provide the fuel it needs to keep burning, and fan the flames to supply what it needs to continue operating. That's persistence—the regularly scheduled follow-through that insures your spark of genius will continue to thrive and, eventually, to go places it's never been before, encounter people who will be glad to meet you, thanks to the project you and your gumption have birthed and nurtured.