I’ve always considered myself to be a disciplined, hardworking person. And I am, on some things. On others, however, I can be incredibly lazy. I discovered this recently, and, honestly, it terrifies me! What a slash to the ego, right?
Now that my pride has been taken down a necessary few inches, though, I’m faced with the reality that I am not always a go-getter. I lack initiative and discipline, and, frankly, the prospect of hard work makes me want to drop certain ideas as soon as I get them. But that doesn’t help me grow in any way. I need to learn diligence. According to dictionary.com, “diligence” is “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.” In other words, it requires work.
It takes diligence to blog consistently. When I started The Ink Loft, I held grand and expansive dreams about it. The reality of it has been a little difficult to realize, however. Blogging is hard. It can be a lot of fun, but it’s not as easy as I originally thought it would be. Nonetheless, this is one area that I’m excited to do better at. Raiders’ Rise is something I’ve plugged away at for over a year and a half, but I haven’t established a disciplined regimen for finishing it. I’ve relied on inspiration a bit too much. That has to stop. I need to write consistently, with goals and deadlines. That’s why I’ve established a loose schedule for the completion of my rough draft and the start of editing. Those dates are physically on my calendar now. Diligence is necessary in everything from job hunting to my spiritual life. But how can I establish a habit of diligence in my life?
- Hear God’s thoughts on the subject – The Bible contains many verses on hard work and perseverance: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ” [Romans 5:3-4] This one reminds me that diligence brings hope and joy to life. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-2] This verse is an excellent reminder that we’re following the example of Jesus, who was diligent through a trial the likes of which we may never see. God knows how hard it can be to persevere, but He also knows it’s good for us. The other side of hearing God’s thoughts is, of course, prayer. I need to consistently reevaluate what I’m being diligent about in light of what God says I should be focusing on. Maybe my goals don’t belong in His plans. I won’t know unless I spend time with Him.
- Set goals – I’m not great at following through on plans, but I’m even worse at finishing things when I don’t have a plan at all. Thus, I intend to actually use my calendar this year. I have weakly deadlines for each chapter and I’ll get a reminder when I’m ready to start editing. During that quiet period, I have world building to do and a novella to write. All of those things are going on my calendar. And I’m hoping that those visible markers will help me stay focused.
- Don’t take every break you want to – I’m notorious for working on something for an hour and then “taking a break.” The problem is that I don’t come back to that job after my break, or I extend my break too long. Breaks are essential, and, in some cases, I don’t take enough. (Which lead to neck pain…) But, sometimes, when I’m dealing with a boring or hard task, I need to push aside my brain’s initial plea to do something else. Maybe that break can happen the next time I think I should stop instead.
- Reward yourself – Along with those goals you set, rewards can be extremely helpful. Even tiny ones, like a piece of candy for a finished page, are motivating at times when your inspiration is lacking. The other day, I put a frozen chicken pot pie, which takes about an hour to cook, in the oven and wrote until it was done. My lunch acted as my reward in that case. And it worked fantastically. Sometimes we think we should force ourselves through things. And, of course, there are times when willpower has to come into play. But let yourself enjoy the journey and the satisfaction of reaching your goals.