How to Get Back on the Horse

I recently had to have my eyelid lanced.

For the sake of your gag reflex and the fact that the rest of this story might find you curled into a ball under your desk, muttering incomprehensibly to yourself, I won’t elaborate. Suffice it to say, I’d been looking like Frankenstein for many weeks and had not left the house out of fear of traumatizing small children for life. (And also because wearing sunglasses inside makes you look like a douche. Just sayin’).

The upside was that in the complete absence of a social life, I was reinvigorated to get hardcore into the unfuckwithable writing routine that I’d been talking about—but not actually making progress on—for pretty much all of time. I began writing every single day, working out on schedule and building other new habits with the help of my Habit Tracker Spreadsheet. And I was starting to feel pretty damn good about myself.

Then it happened.

I woke up one day and felt inexplicably bad.

Sort of like too-many-Gibsons-bad, but not, since I’m practicing gin abstinence at the moment. It was even worse. It was existentially bad.

I felt unmotivated, purposeless and lost. I felt like a giant imposter. Like I had no new ideas, like a gazillion people were doing what I wanted to do—*better*—and they all had a team in place to do the laundry list of things required to really be a “great” in the information age.

There was too much work to do and I would never get there, I told myself.

So I spent the morning journaling begrudgingly, fighting with WordPress plugins that wouldn’t work properly, and telling myself that I probably needed to buy a new course that would teach me how to do something, since the something I was currently doing would obviously never pan out. (I love to buy courses—they make me feel like I’m doing something to reach my goals when in fact I’m doing nothingThis blog cracked me up when it called this pattern “masturbatory self-improvement . . . all the pleasure, without the production of metaphorical progeny.” True that. *facepalm*).

I even read emails until there were no unread emails left in my inbox. (Yep, it was that bad).

NOTHING sounded appealing.

Why bother? I sighed.

Womp, womp, went the soundtrack of my life.

But after half a day of wallowing and flopping about like a she-walrus, the side of me that likes to wear rose-colored glasses (not indoors, mind you) spoke up.

Maybe it’s been done before, but it’s never been done your way, it said.

Aren’t you supposed to eat a whale (or a she-walrus) one bite at a time? (Cue she-walrus caterwauling).

Isn’t your goal simply to be better—even by just 1% each day?

And the answer to these questions was . . . yes. Obviously. Duh.

Dreaming big is bound to feel overwhelming sometimes. But that doesn’t mean we should downsize our dreams. Our inner critic is always going to show up right when she’s not welcome, but we don’t have to let her call the shots. Finding our power is about pushing forward when we feel resistance because it’s a fact (in my life, anyway) that the things we resist doing are the very things we need the most.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “You must never surrender . . . miraculous turns of fate can happen to those who insist on showing up.”

So when the going gets tough, and your insides are screaming at you to crawl back into bed, take a deep breath, steady yourself and . . . 

Just show up.

To the page, to the project, to the dream.

Even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Not only does it build fortitude, but it prevents the self-loathing that can lead to more inaction tomorrow and the day after that.

And when you show up and do the thing against all odds, something strange happens.

You feel powerful. You get to cross something off your To-Do List. You have a little win to celebrate.


And getting a little hit of the juice makes doing the thing tomorrow that much easier.

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