It’s been a while. I can’t explain what’s gone on in my life but I haven’t been focused or much interested in writing for months. For me, that is a long time. Perhaps it’s the absence of inspiration or creativity. Or the limited time and the self-imposed pressure to draft memorable articles.
But the longer I went without writing, the harder it became to start again.
This pattern plays out in other areas of my life. Like Bible reading, exercising, healthy eating; I’ll stop there because I think you get the point. And because it’s kind of depressing. I find a good rhythm and start to feel the positive effects of whichever habit I’ve persisted with and just as things are getting easier to maintain, I stop.
Surely I’m not alone.
In the midst of those lulls, it sure feels like I am though. I can’t discern which is more depressing: stopping a good thing at its peak, or feeling like I can’t get started again. The perceived failure makes it difficult to start again and the stark contrast from the highs make the lows seem unbearable. The sadness of stopping mid-flow sneaks up quietly, almost unexpected even though I know it’s coming.
Perhaps that makes it worse.
I recall the time I frequented the gym–and yes, time is singular; exercise is rarely on my list of commitments. Alongside a good friend, I worked out regularly gaining more muscle in those few months than I have in the years since. And then it happened. I looked in the mirror and thought, “I am jacked. I can take a few days off.” That was 2008 and nearly 10 years later I still haven’t returned.
I made the mistake of breaking habit, thinking I had done enough and by the time I realized my time off was too long, it was too late. I lost momentum and breaking inertia became increasingly difficult with each passing day. Before long, the bulk shifted from my arms to my thighs and have since set up permanent residence.
It’s hard to get started again.
Not just with exercise, but with any habit I forget to enforce. I fall victim to my own laziness or rationalizations that make me complacent. Perhaps I need to set goals. Or maybe I need someone to hold me accountable. I don’t have the answer, just the realization that getting started again is harder than starting for the first time.
It could be fear of failure since I’ve experienced that often in my pursuit of discipline. There’s also a lingering sadness resulting from losing great momentum, as well as feeling hopelessly stuck. There is an obstacle I can’t quite identify or conquer.
Lately, I’ve been feeling the guilt of not writing more.
I love writing but I stopped mid-flow. Again. So here it goes. Again. I think the key to regaining momentum is forgiving myself for times I’ve fallen short, then adjusting and resetting my expectations. Persistence is important in this process because the stops are near guaranteed.
I can choose how it affects me though. I can choose how I respond to setbacks. I can allow those down times to extinguish the smoldering remains of habit or accept the ebbs of life in stride. I can choose to view life as beyond my control or I can take hold of the few things I can control and use them to lead me forward. I can choose differently.
I can choose to get started again.
Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash