It often happens with any (side)project that, sooner or later, enthusiasm wanes, and what used to be exciting and fun starts becoming a drag. This will often manifest as tiredness, difficulty to focus, a strong tendency to procrastination and a nagging feeling of lost opportunity as you slowly recount in your head all the other things and projects you could be pursuing with your time.
In my experience, there’s two ways to break this evil cycle:
- Just doing the thing even when you don’t feel like it
The thing that helps me the most to break away from the shackles of apathy is the practice of visualization. Whenever I start losing faith I visualize (imagine) how awesome the attained goal is going to look like and that gives me the energy, motivation and enthusiasm to keep creating. I don’t compromise nor am I realistic when visualizing. I just let my imagination go and think about the most awesome outcome.
In the case of Wizards Use Vim, my current side-project, I imagine a beautiful leather bound book completely finished, with lots of great and clear imparted knowledge, entertaining and delightful prose, gorgeous images and illustrations. I imagine a reader thoroughly enjoying the book and even laughing once or twice as they read and learn the intricacies of Vim.
The second thing that helps me a lot is just doing it. It is such a cliché but it is useful. It works. Whenever I recognize the signs of me procrastinating or being too distracted I push myself to just, fracking, do it. Perhaps the creative output won’t be stellar, but I’ll push the project forward. More often though, I’ll find that doing the thing will give me more energy and get me into the right mood.
The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance.
This second, we can sit down and do our work. Steve Pressfield - The War of Art
We often underestimate how much we can get done with small consistent effort over time. But that’s how I’ve learnt lots of things, written numerous articles and published 2 books. Putting a little effort in a consistent way over long periods of time produces awesome results.
Then there’s also self-criticism, that little voice in your head that never forgets to remind you how much you suck. I just don’t listen to that one. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts. Create some distance between yourself and the thoughts that pop in and out of your mind from time to time and you’ll live a better and happier life.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” Steve Pressfield - The War of Art
When all else fails, you can always turn to Shiawalker:
Written by Jaime González García , dad, husband, software engineer, ux designer, amateur pixel artist, tinkerer and master of the arcane arts. You can also find him on Twitter jabbering about random stuff.