Peace family, when was the last time you managed to finish something that was really difficult to accomplish? Has there been anything lately that you are confident God helped you to do, because you couldn’t do it on your own?
I just wanted to share how encouraged I am, and some tips that got me through a very difficult project! After a year of working on a draft for a friend who wanted to have an autobiography, it is finally finished! This was one of the most difficult, long-term projects I’ve had in a long time. I went through various stages of not wanting to do it, feeling very frustrated, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I needed to do, and several deadlines I made for myself that I failed to achieve. However, after lots of prayer (by myself and my friends), several tall, mocha frappuccinos, and hours of just focusing on one small step at a time, it finally got finished!
Do you have an overwhelming project today? These are some of the things that helped me!
Each session that I worked on the draft, I started praying before I began. I confessed my frustrations and (at times) bad attitude, and prayed for his blessing on the work, and that he would help my mind to work well as I attempted to sort the information. Doing this first step each time helped me to remember that God was with me, helping me to fulfill the promise I had made, even though it had turned out to be a lot more difficult and time-consuming than I thought when I agreed with my friend that I’d do it.
It was also extremely helpful to just focus on one step at a time. I got overwhelmed whenever I would think about the whole project, and how much work I needed to do, sometimes to the point of being immobilized. Focus on one step at a time helped me to attack small, specific things that resulted in successes that further encouraged me, while actually getting the project done. Some things just take a long time to do, but they are still worth doing! When I reached a point in the manuscript where I didn’t know what to do with what I had, I skipped ahead and worked on another part. Bit by bit, as it all came together, I was able to use my time productively, then go back to the passages that gave me trouble. I was better equipped, and things were usually much easier the second time I went to them, because I was farther along in the project and could see better what directions the draft developed.
I also tried to take an experience I had begun to dread, and added things to it to make it more positive. What’s something you enjoy, that you can reward yourself with a few times as you really press into doing your project? We often reward a dog with a treat as we teach him to sit or stay. There’s something to be said for the effectiveness of treats to take some of the dread away from your experience! The first few days that I really began to seriously push myself, I would get a frappuccino as a reward for just doing it! I also ordered some cookbooks that I really wanted off of Amazon, but that takes me to my next point: negative consequences.
Because my gracious friend didn’t really put any time line on me, I found that negative consequences were a key factor in helping myself to complete the project. Although I ordered some cookbooks as a reward, I was not allowed to open any Amazon packages until I had finished my project. Meanwhile, I told several friends that if I didn’t finish by the due date, I would send a $20 check to a specific politician whose policies I greatly dislike. As I worked late hours on the draft, ready to go to bed and not caring any more whether or not I got to open my Amazon packages, I did still care about writing that check to that politician!
Anyway, Peace family, you might not need to do all of these steps, but I hope that they help you to succeed in any of your endeavors! 1) Pray and dedicate, 2) Focus on small steps, 3) Positive rewards, 4) Negative consequences. I really think God helped me to get these ideas, and I’m so glad the draft is finished! Best wishes in all that you do! Let’s make this a productive month!