Can I really do this?

I like trains. Once they’re on the right track, they just run straight to their destination. Me… Not so much. Often, I’ll set out to start doing things — reading, exercising, you name it. Missing my goals a few times will shake my confidence. But miss more, and the fear of failure will start getting to me. Yesterday was one of those moments.

I was disappointed in myself. For fourteen days now, I’ve been trying to build a daily writing habit. And yesterday was already the third time I failed to publish.

You may be thinking, “So what, you failed to publish 3 times in a fortnight?”

I get that it may not sound like much. But 3 out of 14 times is actually 20%. How would you feel about a co-worker missing on 20% of the deadlines? Well, you’d probably think that he or she isn’t reliable.

But here’s why I really felt bad. My goal was to build a long-term habit. And most often that not, my motivation is the highest at the beginning of the journey. It decreases after that. Was I already on the decline?

Would I add “writing daily” to the list of things I left unfinished?

Nope. Not this time. I know how important this is to me. I already see results.

Okay — the motivation seems to be there. So how could I engineer my way to successfully building this habit?

Let’s start with the basics. When something is not working, we need to find the points of friction — find what makes it hard to do. After all, when things are easy, there’s less chance we fail to do them, right? So what brought me not to write on those days?

I reckon there was a mix of two things:

  • Breaking my routine and not writing in the morning
  • Not having topics ideas (that I think worth sharing)

Good — now I have clues on what I need to tackle. First, I need to schedule my time and design my environment to make sure I can write in the morning. And secondly, I need to come up with ways to generate new, and probably more, ideas.

Both of these topics could be articles of their own, so I will not linger — let me know if you’re interested though! But the key thing was: I found my points of friction. And this gave me objectives to work towards; I had a plan to help me build my daily habit.

Suddenly, I wasn’t fearing failure just as much. Now that I had a plan — a list of specific things to do — I was way less worried about the possibility of failure. Having a plan made me feel like I was in control. It was reassuring.

Preparation boosts confidence; and confidence helps fighting fear. To be honest, becoming a writer still feels like I have a mountain to climb. But at least now I know the route for a couple stages ahead. Onward — the journey continues!

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Last updated on March 25, 2021.