To Create Change, Simply Start and Put in the Time
For anyone who is struggling to do something they believe in and care about, to pursue a path towards who they want to become or do the work of creating a change they desire — whether that be learning a language, mastering a new professional skill, developing a project to benefit their community — the effort alone is worth it. I promise.
Why the Juice is Worth the Squeeze
Because what happens even if you don’t finish what you started or resumed working on (at least not today, but hopefully eventually) is that you showed up. You proved to yourself that you at least care enough to attend your shift.
And while on your shift, if you put in the work to create a change you care about, you are proving you can be a professional and follow through. Even if there is no reward from others — whether that reward is reading what you wrote, buying what you built, or following your Soundcloud for more of your music — you have given yourself the gift of reinforcing and internalizing an identity: that you are someone who doesn’t need to feel like working and that the only reason you need to do the work is because you care.
You don’t need to know how to do what you’re trying to do.
Because if you simply start, you can continue to cultivate the habit and skill of putting in the time, which you can then invest that time to eventually learn what you are trying to do.
What you’re trying to do doesn’t need to work on the first try.
Because if you just tried, you proved that you can at least do that, which means you are capable of trying again. It is through the subsequent tries that we eventually figure out how to make what we are trying to do work and create the change we seek.
A Simple Tactic to Finally Start and Put in the Work
Set a timer.
Set a timer and let the time pass without distraction or switching to do something else.
Set a timer, clock in for your shift, and put in the time. And during that time, put in the work. Do that because that’s all we can really promise ourselves to do. We can’t promise that it will be good or guarantee that it will produce everything you want in your life — whether wealth, love, praise, or recognition — but we can promise that we won’t give ourselves absolutely zero possibility by hiding and never showing up.
Holding Myself Accountable
I’ve published something everyday since 9 April 2021, which makes this post lucky number 13. For some writers, that achievement can be evaluated as significant as a baby giggling — adorable, but not admirable or noteworthy. But for those still aspiring to create art, to do the work they believe in and care about, they might still be hoping to simply get to publishing just one to three things they made.
Simply starting liberates us from the struggle of only wanting.
Setting a timer, clocking in for my shift, is a pre-requisite to putting in the work.
If the timer I set didn’t create a deadline of “publish whatever you wrote in the past 60 minutes,” I’m not sure you would have read what you are reading now. And when I started, I wasn’t entirely sure what I would write about or if it would be good.
But the important part about writing, the bare minimum of it as a process, isn’t thinking about what I want to write, that I found a good idea, or if anybody even reads it. At least, those goals and outcomes are not necessary.
The most important part about writing and what’s needed is that I wrote, that even if I didn’t finish what I started working on, I gave myself a fighting chance. Giving ourselves a fighting chance is something we can choose to do. Everyday even.
As my day led up to deciding to write this, I struggled with what to and how to write it. But I don’t have to struggle with when to write and for how long to write.
Because if I show up and simply start, then I can eventually trust myself to figure it out. Overcoming inertia, gaining momentum, picking up speed, finding direction, and then finally crossing the finish line all starts with simply starting, and starting starts with agreeing to be led by yourself on this unknown journey despite its uncertainty, adventuring through a path paved with possibility.
Holding Yourself Accountable to Putting in the Time and Work
Don’t you deserve it?
Don’t you deserve your own time and effort to do what you believe in, to work on what matters to you, to live a life of that is interesting and important to you?
You do. All you need to do is just show up to put in the time and work.