In the beginning, it was easy. There was no pressure. There were no outside eyes. There were no expectations.When I started writing, I wrote in a private document for over a year before I published my first article on JamesClear.com. I wrote about what I wanted to write about. I wrote because I wanted to get my thoughts down. I wrote because I felt like I needed to write.After a few months of sharing my work publicly, things began to change.
As I developed an audience, I noticed that I began judging my work. In the beginning, I was just happy to get my ideas down on paper, but now I felt like they had to be “good” ideas. I began comparing new articles to my most popular ones. I was constantly measuring everything I wrote against my internal standard of good and bad—even though I didn’t know exactly what that meant.
Thankfully, I didn’t let my self-doubt stop me from writing. I figured this was part of the creative process for anyone who created things consistently. I told myself that judgment and self-doubt was just a toll that I had to pay to continue the journey and create better work.In a way, this is true. Everyone deals with self-doubt—artists, creators, entrepreneurs, athletes, parents. But in a way, I was wrong. Self-doubt is not a cost you have to pay to become better. Let’s talk about why.Before we talk about how to get started, I wanted to let you know I researched and compiled science-backed ways to stick to good habits and stop procrastinating. Want to check out my insights? Download my free PDF guide “Transform Your Habits” here.
I just finished reading a book that has been on my reading list for quite some time, The Inner Game of Tennis (audiobook) by Timothy Gallwey. It is a book about life, not just tennis.n particular, there was one quote from Gallwey that made me pause and rethink my early months of writing and self-doubt.“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”
Ambition and contentment are not opposites, but we often make the mistake of thinking that they are incompatible. On the one hand, experts tell us that we should be mindful, focused on the present, and content with our lives regardless of the results. On the other hand, coaches and champions tell us that successful people out work everyone else, that we must never be satisfied, and that complacency is undesirable.As Gallwey says, at no point are we dissatisfied with the current state of the rose seed. It is perfectly all right at each moment. Yet, it is also incredibly ambitious. The rose seed never stops growing. It is constantly seeking to get to the next level. Every day it is moving forward, and yet, every day it is just as it should be.Deliberate practice is what makes you better.
Putting in your reps is what makes you better.
Falling in love with boredom is what makes you better.
Those tasks are easier said than done, of course. When I find myself falling into the trap of judging my work, here’s a strategy I use to pull myself back on track: I try to remember that each outcome is simply a point along the spectrum of repetitions.
Point C is showing your work in your first gallery.Every outcome you can achieve is simply a point along the spectrum of repetitions and time. The number of repetitions you need to put in for a particular goal is dependent on your circumstances, your experiences, your training, and many other factors. Everyone’s spectrum of repetitions is unique: your spectrum is different than mine.It is important to realize is that just because you are at Point A and someone else is at Point C that does not mean you are doing bad work. In fact, there is no bad work or good work. Just as there is no such thing as a rose seed that is a bad rose bush. There are just points in time and repetitions completed.Release the desire to define yourself as good or bad. Release the attachment to any individual outcome. If you haven’t reached a particular point yet, there is no need to judge yourself because of it. You can’t make time go faster and you can’t change the number of repetitions you have put in before today. The only thing you can control is the next repetition.
nteresting articles. Read my best articles on topics like habits, productivity, and more.
Online course. Master your habits with my best-selling course, The Habits Academy.
Keynote speaking. Hire me to speak to your organization or team about habits.
You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.