I am a writer.
It’s not a one-off, not a fluke, not a one-hit wonder. I got confirmation today of upcoming payment for my words by a “real” publisher. In a couple months I’ll get a small check from Simon & Schuster, and one of my stories will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, due out on Halloween.
While a short story submission like that doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, it represents the return on investment, the proof of growth and progress in this self-proclaimed writer status.
A second story published is a signal that I’ve done something with the last several years of “taking writing seriously.” It validates the advice and constructive criticism I’ve received over five years of participating in critique groups.
For most of us, nothing worth doing comes naturally or easy. Talent won’t make the difference; it’s what we do with our opportunities. Motivation doesn’t make magic happen; small, incremental efforts repeated daily or at least frequently will create results over time. We’re trading a little pain now for something important later.
Learning to play the piano took eight years of lessons, and over thirty years of ongoing effort… but it’s a skill I get paid for now. Becoming a Spin instructor wasn’t easy, but overcoming the challenge of each session gave me deep satisfaction… and also a paycheck.
A friend of mine fought his debt and financial status for the last few years, chipping away at the bills and pumping money little by little into savings. He’s getting ready to move, and we talked for a while at the grocery store while he picked up some lunchmeat, some cheese, and some wraps with which to make meals. He chooses to live comfortably yet below his means in order to manage his money better, and now he’s putting half his paycheck into investments every month. By the time he retires from the military, he’ll own a few properties with a plan to purchase more–his invested money earning enough to pay for all his expenses. It took time, discipline, and some pain… living like no one else now so he can live like no one else later, to quote Dave Ramsey.
I read a challenging quote from motivational speaker Jim Rohn yesterday which reaffirmed the thoughts behind this blog: “We all must suffer one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
After a long workday of chaos, I want nothing more than to log into Warcraft, rip open some bag of junk food, put something on the TV, and shut off my brain.
Instead, I came home and headed out the door for some sprints around the neighborhood and gradual climbs on nearby hills. I’ve got a PT test coming up in a month–probably my last one in the Air Force–and I can’t afford to fail. That means putting in the work now so I can see and enjoy the progress later.
Despite the ache and soreness in my knee.
Regardless of the arthritic throbbing in my fused ankles.
Despite the stabbing pain in my big toe for the last few days.
Regardless of what other things I could or should be doing with my time.
Effort leads to results… eventually.
What are the goals and aspirations that float through the void of “someday I’d like to” in your mind? What small steps can you take today to advance toward them?