Over a year into the pandemic, many people are struggling with a form of existential ennui.
Languishing is the word of the moment.
Maybe things are fine, but you’ve lost enthusiasm. The novelty of the situation has worn off.
This is not a new feeling. In the course of any long term project or practice, we inevitably face times when we feel like we’re going through the motions but not getting anywhere.
Results, or at least a sense of progress, is one of the greatest drivers of action.
So how can we find the motivation to persist in our efforts when we don’t feel a sense of progress, or when we are not meeting the metrics of our plan?
To endure in our persistence we need to find the good moments — even when things feel far from good.
We must celebrate the wins — and when the situation doesn’t feel like a win, we must find the small wins hidden within the bigger story.
Building endurance, and cultivating persistence and perseverance, requires that we learn to find the joy in the process.
Admittedly, this is hard to do no matter where we are in the process. If it appears that we will hit our target we don’t want to celebrate prematurely. And if we feel stuck in a ditch, it’s hard to find a reason to celebrate.
Although measuring our progress can be helpful, often we use metrics that don’t measure what’s truly important.
When we look at our projects or our lives only through the lens of the plans we’ve made or the metrics we’ve established to measure our progress, we miss out on the beauty that exists all around us, the small moments of wonder and awe, synchronicity and transcendence, that give life a greater sense of meaning.
These magic moments are the moments that propel us through the tough times. And they are the moments we remember at the end of a year or a life.
So why don’t we recognize them more?
In my own experience, and with my clients, I have found that resistance to finding joy in the moment or celebrating even our smallest wins reflects a fear that we will “lose our edge”:
If I allow myself to experience this joy, then I will lose my motivation to continue to push forward.
This resistance to premature celebrating reflects a belief that we must delay our joy until the project is complete. As the old saying goes, we don’t want to “count our chickens before they’re hatched.”
Ironically many of the people who resist celebrating wins harbor a disdain for procrastination. And yet that’s exactly what they’re doing: procrastinating joy.
I’ve practiced a daily ritual of celebrating my wins and my magic moments for over 7 years. One important lesson I’ve learned through this practice is that, far from derailing motivation, finding joy in the process renews the energy that fuels persistence and perseverance.