motivation (5)

AES71 Advice for Beginners

Nobody tells people who are beginners, is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.

But there’s a gap.

For the first couple of years what you’re making isn’t so good, it’s trying to be good, it has the ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.

And your taste is good enough that you can tell what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you.

A lot of people never get past that phase, a lot of people at that point… They quit.

 

Everybody that does interesting, creative work, went through a phase of years where they had really good taste but they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be.

They knew it fell short, it didn’t have this special thing that we wanted it to have.

Everybody goes through that, it’s totally normal.

 

And the most important possible thing you can do is a lot of work, do a huge volume of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story.

Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap.

And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

 

It’s going to take you a while

It’s normal to take a while.

You just have to fight your way through.

 

-Ira Glass-

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AES55 No More Zero Days

We all have those days when it’s hard to get motivation to do the things we need to do, and at the end of the day you look back and realize you haven’t really done much of anything. Especially in this seemingly never-ending pandemic where we’re all stuck inside our homes, it’s easy to fall back to old habits and unhealthy patterns. I’ve come across 4 rules that have helped me build a better routine and mindset each day, and it might help you too!

 

So the first and most important rule we’re going to establish is no more zero days. What is a zero day? A zero day is when you have done nothing to progress your goals or dreams, it’s when you end the day being the exact same as when you started it. It sucks when you realize you haven’t done the things you need to be doing, and the non-zero day rule will help you achieve that goal bit by bit. A non-zero day is when you’ve achieved something, no matter how small, that will make you into a better person and gets you closer to your goals. 

We can’t instantly learn to become super productive and disciplined, so the purpose here is starting small and slowly building our way up. No matter what, we want to end up with a net positive. If it’s 11.58 P.M. and you haven’t done anything, just do one push-up, or learn one new word, write a paragraph, read one chapter of a book, because one is still infinitely better than zero. What we’re trying to build is consistency in growth, if you accumulate all the non-zero days together you’ll see some real tangible change. And soon your progress will start to snowball, one push-up becomes 5, becomes 10, 20, and eventually 50. You can be capable of achieving so much more than you thought possible at the start.

The second rule is being grateful to the 3 you’s. The past, present and future you. These are the people you should care about the most. We should be grateful to our past selves for all the positive things they’ve done for us, because without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. The present you is the accumulation of everything you went through so far. If we focus too much on the past and the future, life will soon pass us by, so take a deep breath and look around, be grateful for all that you have, and the mind-blowing fact that we’re all alive right now.

And lastly you should base your actions by keeping future you in mind. Think of it as doing favours for a good friend. Conflicted between choosing between a burger or salad? Well I’m gonna do future me a favour and choose the healthier option. Too lazy to get up and exercise? Too bad, I’m doing it for future me. This cycle of doing something for someone else (future you) and thanking someone for the good in your life (past you) is key to building gratitude and productivity in the present. And this attitude will also make you seem more positive to others as well.

 

The third rule is learning to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, not everything is under our control. I’ve dwelt on my own mistakes for far too long, self-pity and regret will not get you anywhere. Accept that everything, good or bad, has happened. And there’s nothing we can do to change the past. But we do have the power to change who we are today, and we can choose to keep moving forward to a brighter future. It’s never too late to change. It won’t be easy, you will trip and fall more than a few times, it’s okay to falter and regress, as long as you eventually push yourself to take the next step again. There will be good days and bad days, that is just a fact of life, be grateful for the good days and learn from the bad days.

 

The last rule is simple: exercise and books. Exercise is simply magical, it makes your body grow stronger, keeps you fit and in good shape, it clears your mind and releases endorphins, which is a happiness chemical in your brain! Go for jogs in the morning, do some push-ups and squats. Trust me, with regular exercise your future self will thank you profusely. For books, almost everything we've all ever thought of, or felt, or gone through, or wanted to know how to do, has been figured out by someone else and written down in a book somewhere. Everytime I finish a new book, I feel like the horizon of my knowledge has expanded significantly. I used to be an avid reader, and I’m looking forward to actually picking up some new books and getting myself lost in the experience again. 

 

So that’s it! Four simple rules that I’m trying to apply to my everyday life. I really feel like this way of thinking can make me into a better person, and every day I shall strive to be better than I was yesterday. And slowly but surely, I shall keep moving forward to achieve my dreams.

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AES#12 Change

It’s easy to get bogged down thinking about all the mistakes you made, wishing you did things differently. But wallowing in the past is not going to change anything, it’s what you do now that matters. I have felt stuck for a long time, drowning myself in self pity, comparing myself to others, thinking that it’s already too late to move forward, that it’s hopeless and that I shouldn’t even try. But it’s not too late, there’s no such thing as too late. Your mistakes are just lessons you can learn from, and your best days are still ahead.

It’s important to remind ourselves that there is nothing inherently wrong with who we are, we just have bad patterns to unlearn, new healthier behaviours to embody, and wounds to heal. Remember that momentum works both ways, it’s hard to get out of a slump, sometimes it might seem impossible, but when you keep taking steps forward, you will build up momentum and get back on track.

It’s important to forgive the mistakes of your past selves, believe you can do better with your current self, and create a future self you can be proud of. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be. And I didn’t come this far to only come this far. We all got through today, and we will get through tomorrow as well, and the day after that. I’ll see you then.

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AES#9 Step by Step

When I have a new goal in mind, it’s difficult for me to start taking the steps necessary to achieve it. I often get bogged down in the details, afraid of the risks that might not happen, and worrying about results that may not be perfect. And this cycle of overthinking prevents me from progressing in the first place. What I needed to realize is that it takes time and effort to achieve your goals, there’s no instant perfect solution that can be applied to every situation, sometimes you just have to work at it until it’s done, step by step. Because remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built eventually.

When we feel down and unmotivated, sometimes even the simplest things seem impossible to do. What's important to remember in those moments is that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. You just need to keep taking that next step, even if you start small, the work you put in will build up into something substantial. Running 1 kilometer a day is 365 kilometers per year,  reading just 20 pages a day means you can finish 30 books in a year, writing 250 words a day is 90.000 words a year, which is actually the full length of most books! Becoming 1% better every day than the day before, means that you can become 37 times better at the end of the year than you were before. 

While taking these little steps you’re building good habits that become the foundation for bigger ambitions. You can’t expect to achieve great things when your daily life is still out of order. So take a deep breath, start small, and stick with it no matter what. Keep taking that next step forward, and one day you’ll look back and be proud of the person you’ve become.

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AES#2 Get Disciplined

One of the most important skills to have, whatever you may do in life, is discipline. And it’s definitely the number one thing I need to work on for myself. All my life I’ve relied on spur of the moment motivation to help me complete tasks and responsibilities, and to say it’s inconsistent is an understatement. Another thing about relying on motivation is that it doesn’t last long, and when you run out of motivation you can be stuck for a long time before you get it back.

If I keep relying on motivation, I’ll spend my whole life starting and stopping, never progressing in a meaningfully consistent way, so I have to find a better way. I’ve been talking with my father a lot about designing a better daily schedule and building better habits, it takes 21 days for a habit to begin forming, but 90 days for you to completely embody it. By building better habits you slowly change how you perceive yourself, and your outlook on life in general. You can’t completely change yourself in one day, so do it little by little, day by day, step by step, but make sure you keep progressing, no matter how slow.

“It gets easier, you have to do it every day, that’s the hard part, but it does get easier.”

In the end, we’re faced with a simple choice, experience the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret. Discipline is actually one of the strongest forms of self-love, it’s putting aside the temptations of current pleasures in order for bigger rewards to come, it’s loving yourself enough to give yourself everything you’ve ever wanted.

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