Category Archives: Creative Journey

How to Build and Gain Momentum When Pushing Through a Long-Term Project

How to Build and Gain Momentum When Pushing Through a Long-Term Project – by Rachelle Fordyce
… [Photo by Matheus Bandoch]

As I’ve previously mentioned in some of my posts from earlier this year, I’ve been working on a giant editing project for the past several months. And I gotta say, at times it’s seemed overwhelming. It’s such a huge mountain of work, and I’ve encountered a number of setbacks and delays along the way.

Mind you, I haven’t been working it on it consistently. I’ve paused it for travel, or to work on and attend to other shorter-term projects that were more time sensitive. And sometimes, I’ve also paused working on the project for a much needed break. But each time I step away from the project for any notable length of time (and sometimes even not-so-notable lengths of time, like a weekend), I lose a lot of momentum, and then it may take me quite a while to get back into the swing of working on this Everest of an editing project again.

I want to push through and complete my involvement in this project within the next three weeks. That should be a completely reasonable and doable goal, as long as I can keep up a reasonable work pace over these next three weeks. And, you’d think with the end in sight, I should be naturally motivated to push through. But for some reason, I think I’ve been feeling the opposite.

Instead of feeling motivated to press on, I feel like it’s taking even more effort than usual to continue, as if I’m pushing through some thick sludge and exerting a lot of effort just to get myself to make a nominal amount of progress. Ugh. (Remember that Swamp of Sadness scene from The Neverending Story? Not that I’ve been sad, it’s just that trudging through this last quarter of the project has felt like trudging through some thick and heavy swamp – and the longer you stand still, the harder it is to rebuild and gain momentum.)

So I’ve been thinking: I need some little trick or mental hack to help myself push through the final quarter of this project. And, I think I’ve some across something that will do the trick!

Gaining Momentum from Quick and Small Wins

Since I want to push through and complete this project ASAP so that I’ll be done it once and for all, I’ve had the tendency to sometimes put off other tasks or commitments so that they won’t drain energy that I could otherwise be putting towards the project. This approach seems to make sense logically, but in my case, it also seems to have the opposite effect: It’ll make it seem even harder to push through. But why?

I wasn’t sure at first, but then I think I figured it out: Without faster and readily-evident wins, it’s harder to maintain energy and forward momentum; and as time progresses without those wins, the energy and forward momentum will continue to dwindle more and more. Therefore, if I want to build and regain momentum, I need to find a way to create a real (i.e. readily evident) sense of accomplishment (i.e. a win) in a short period of time.

So I’ve come up with a list of some tasks and activities that I can do to quickly build and renew my sense of accomplishment, building moment and creating a ‘win’ effect:

  • Make the bed as soon as you get up. (I’ve been in this habit for a while.)
  • Take a shower and/or get ready as if I’ll be going out even if I’m actually just staying in.
  • Cook a meal – and be sure to completely clean up afterwards.
  • Load and run the dishwasher.
  • Empty the dishwasher and put away all the dishes.
  • Wash any extra items (large pots, etc) by hand and put them away.
  • Keep the kitchen in a clean state.
  • Wipe and polish a kitchen countertop.
  • Tidy bathroom countertops and keep them clutter-free.
  • Clean a toilet.
  • Clean a bathroom sink.
  • Keep my closet orderly.
  • Stay on top of laundry.
  • Fold laundry and put it away in a timely manner.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Do some cardio, even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes.
  • Hold a 2-minute plank or do some push-ups.
  • Read a chapter of a book.
  • Write and publish a blog post.

All of the actions above aren’t particularly laborious or time consuming – they can be done rather quickly – and the completion of these small tasks will likely provide me with a small burst of energy that can then be directed towards moving that big project forward. Woot!

Another way to gain a sense of accomplishment from a quick and small win is to break up a larger task into much smaller segments. Make a list of these smaller segments, and as as you complete each small step, cross it out or check it off. Often, that feeling you get from simply crossing out or checking off something from your to-do list will build momentum propel you forward to keep making progress and taking successive actions.

Creating Positive Momentum and Work Flow

Sometimes I’ve found that I don’t need to resort to non-project-oriented quick and small wins to help me build and gain momentum. Sometimes, the project-work in and of itself will create this kind of flow. When this happens, I know I’m in a place of positive momentum and work flow. What does that look like?

A positive momentum and work flow isn’t draining. In fact, it’s almost energizing – or at the very least, you’ll maintain your energy throughout. It’s self-perpetuating: As you make progress, that progress in and of itself fuels you to keep going and keeping making progress.

One way to help get your mind in this mode is to create that ‘quick-and-small-wins’ effect – not from the actual completion of a task, but from the completion of a time-block. This can be particularly helpful if the task in and of itself is somewhat large, lengthy, and overwhelming.

A common approach to the time-block method is called the Pomodoro Technique, which involves 25-minute increments or time-blocks of focused work. Completing each time-block would equate to a small win. However, you can use any length of time-block that works best for you. Maybe that’s only 5 or 10 minutes, or maybe it’s 45 minutes or 60 minutes. It could change day to day or week to week.

Be flexible in your approach, and don’t be afraid to experiment to find which approaches and tactics work best for you. And remember, depending on your energy levels and what’s going on in your life, what works best for you might change from day to day. Be adventurous and try different approaches.

“Whatever beginning goals you set for yourself, following through on them will build momentum and a sense of achievement and those small successes will point the way to bigger ones.” 

— Pamela Glass Kelly

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

— Conrad Hilton

“When you find yourself in the thickness of pursuing a goal or dream, stop only to rest. Momentum builds success.”

— Suzy Kassem

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I’m going to consider the completion of this blog post as a timely small win. I already feel so much lighter after writing it! In fact, while writing this, I took a break to load up the dishwasher. Ha! It looks like taking my own advice is proving to be quite helpful after all. 😉

In the upcoming weeks as I focus on pushing through and completing that mega long-term editing project, I’m definitely going to be keeping these tactics in mind. And you can be certain that I’ll implement them, too! I’m already feeling so much more positively motivated to crush this project.

What types of long-term projects have you had to push through before? Have you used these tactics to help you through? If not, keep this article in mind for the future. I’m certain these tactics will also help me to tackle that screenplay project that I’ll be doing later this year, too. 🙂

xox

Learning to Use My Intuition and Inner-Guidance System

Learning to Use My Intuition and Inner-Guidance System – by Rachelle Fordyce … [Photo by Jari Hytönen]

This morning I was sitting outside in our backyard enjoying breakfast and listening to an audiobook. The narrator-author had just spoken a sentence about using our inner-guidance system versus solely relying on our physical senses for guidance, and as that sentence literally hit my ears, I observed something that perfectly summed up what the author was talking about – a perfect synchronicity, if you will.

What I saw was this: A somewhat large insect, presumably a fly or large bee, whizzed by and – bam – flew right into the living room window! Not to be deterred, it promptly recovered, turned around, and whizzed right back the way it came.

I’ve seen birds fly into windows before, and on occasion I’ve seen insects do this too. But I thought it was especially synchronistic that that would happen right as I was listening to that very sentence about navigating using our inner-guidance senses in addition to our physical (aka outer-guidance) senses.

An Inner-Guidance System

What is an inner-guidance system? Basically, it refers to our intuition, our ‘gut’, our inner sense, or our feelings. It’s when we feel or somehow know something is right or not right, or off (or whatever the case may be), but yet we can’t necessarily use logic or reason to explain why or how we feel or know this to be.

Although some might be drawn to write off intuition as some “woo-woo” airy-fairy thing, on some level or another, it seems to be a very real phenomenon. There are countless examples of intuition stepping in to veer people away from trouble or perhaps even guiding them towards a positive experience. I don’t think it’s logical to discount all anecdotes and personal testimonies.

The instance of the bug slamming into the window made me wonder about intuition as a guidance system. Clearly, that insect was relying solely on its physical perceptions to guide it. But our physical perceptions can misguide us from time to time. I’d imagine that insect somehow perceived the reflection on the window as equating to more sky and air and such. Birds often do the same thing too. Similarly, and under the right circumstances, humans may witnesses mirages with their physical eyes… and yet, we can’t always trust what we see.

Do insects posses the ability to exercise intuition? I have no idea. I would guess not, but who really knows? Maybe some do and some don’t. Maybe it depends on the species. But either way, if that insect did have some sense of an inner-guidance system, I wonder if it might’ve kicked in and told it, “Hey, don’t fly this way! That’s not actually air and sky over there… that’s a glass surface! It’s a reflection – an illusion of sorts! Don’t go that way! It’ll just waste your time in the long run, and you might even hurt yourself!”

Learning to Trust My Intuition

When it comes to my own intuition, I’m sure it’d serve me well to lean into trusting it a lot more than I currently do. There have been way too many instances where some tiny voice in the back of my mind wonders something, almost as if to warn me of what could go wrong… but then the logical part of my mind takes over and says that other thought is simply paranoia, that I shouldn’t worry and just carry-on and continue as planned.

But then, somehow, of course – it turns out that that little, tiny voice was actually right. And had I listened to it, I would’ve avoided some sort of annoyance or delay or mishap or whatever / fill-in-the-blank. And then, I invariably kick myself for not having realized that that was my intuition/inner-guidance system trying to speak up and that I should have listened to it.

Story Time: How NOT Listening To My Intuition Almost Turned Out REALLY Badly!

Let me tell you an amusing story about intuition and the consequences of not listening to it.

A number of years ago, when Steve and I were still in the midst of our long distance relationship, we had bought tickets to see a Depeche Mode concert together in Las Vegas. (They’re pretty much Steve’s favorite band.) We had purchased the tickets far in advance, but I had yet to purchase my travel from Canada (Winnipeg) to Vegas for the concert date.

When booking travel, I tend to book tickets that are the least cost while also being the most convenient in terms of layovers/connecting flights, length of travel, arrival and departure times, etc. I also take into consideration the airports/cities of connecting flights.

I had noticed that some airports’ border patrols tended to grill me a lot harder than others when going through border security, so I tended to avoid those airports if possible since I rather dislike being grilled as though my innocent travel was some impending threat to civilization. For this reason, one of my favorite departure airports for flying into the US was the Calgary airport – they rarely gave me any issues. So if I could, I’d always favor flights that had a layover in Calgary before heading to the US. That way, it was likely to cause me the least of amount stress – and less stress is a good thing!

In terms of making travel plans for the concert, I had determined my best flight would be to fly from Winnipeg to Calgary, which then had another brief stop in Denver before flying into Vegas. Sure, it was an extra stop-over, but the itinerary had my ideal Calgary departure airport heading into the US, and it would still have me arriving in Vegas 2.5 hours before the concert, which seemed like plenty enough time – especially given that I was planning to fly with only carry-on luggage. (The second-best option had me arriving sometime around midnight the night before, but Steve likes going to bed on the early side, so I thought it best to avoid that flight.)

Even though the flight I described above seemed like a good plan, I had a little voice in the back of my mind wonder about it.

Little voice: “Are you sure that flight’s a good idea? What if there’s a delay? More stop-overs equate to more possibilities for delay. I dunnnoooo…”

Ego/Logic voice: “What? It’ll be fine. I’ve never experienced a notable delay before when traveling to Vegas, and I’ve flown a lot. So it’s super unlikely. I’ll only have carry-on baggage too, so that reduces extra time waiting for baggage arrival. Plus, I’d really prefer to go through border security in Calgary. I think you’re being overly paranoid.”

Little voice: “I dunno… something feels off.”

Logic voice: “It’ll be fine! 2.5 hours is plenty of time to get to the concert after arrival. Even if there was an hour delay, there’d still be enough time. Heck, even if there was a two hour delay, there’d probably still be just enough time!! The concert isn’t far from the airport, and it’ll be a Sunday so it’s not like there will be any rush hour traffic to worry about. …So, shut up!”

With a little hesitation, I went ahead and booked that flight. At the time, the concert was still more than two months away.

When I shared my itinerary with Steve, he was concerned too. He thought maybe I should change the flight. I just told him the same thing I had previously told that little voice (minus the “shut up” part).

On the travel day, everything for the first flight from Winnipeg to Calgary went smoothly. Going through security went fine. …Then, I arrived at the gate for my next flight.

Shit.

It turned out there was a major storm causing significant delays. My flight was going to be delayed by several hours. I would end up arriving after the concert. WHAT?! This kind of delay had never happened to me before in my life!

I wondered if there was any way I could get myself to Vegas in time for the concert. Then I noticed a flight to L.A. was getting ready to board and take off shortly thereafter. I guess the storm wasn’t going to affect their flight path. I did some quick thinking…I figured if I could take that flight to L.A., I should be able to land with just enough time to quickly rent a car and drive from L.A. to Las Vegas, making it to the concert right on time.

I talked to an airline rep at the counter and explained to her my predicament about missing the concert if I couldn’t figure out an alternate plan. I asked her could I please transfer my existing flight to that L.A. flight instead. Also, since I was traveling with carry-on luggage only, that made this new plan even more practical.

The airline rep did what she could, and thankfully, she was able to carry out my request. YAY! I sent off a message to Steve to let him know what was going on and that I’d meet him at the concert.

And so that’s what I did… I flew to L.A., rented a car, then drove to Vegas (with a little bit of speeding along the way). I got there ever so slightly early with just enough time to change my clothes in the venue’s bathroom to something a bit more appropriate for a concert. And then I pretty much got to my seat and met up with Steve right as the concert was starting.

Isn’t that insane?

In retrospect, it seems that this insane re-route adventure could have been avoided all together had I listened to that little voice after all. But then again, if I had, I wouldn’t have this crazy story to tell and share with you. 😉

Practice, Time, and Patience

I’m starting to get better at recognizing that little voice, and sometimes I even carry through with its advice. But I’m still not 100% great at recognizing it and then following through on whatever it has to say. At least I’m improving in that area, and I expect to keep improving over time as I lean more and more into practicing recognizing that little voice and separating it from the other voice in my mind that says, “Oh, that’s just paranoia talking.”

Experience tells me that this intuition “thing” is a real phenomenon. It could probably be logically explained away as something else, and that’s fine. But even so, using the word or label intuition – or inner-guidance system, or maybe even subconscious – is probably more succinct than any other lengthy label or explanation.

Whatever it is, I think it’s worth paying attention to. All it wants to do is help us along our path, getting from A to B in the most efficient way. Just like any guidance system, there’s a calibration and learning process to go through.

Learning to make sense of my intuition takes practice, so I try to be patient with myself and my learning curve.

“Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect.”
You have to trust in something: Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

– Steve Jobs

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.”
All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”

– Albert Einstein

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Have you ever encountered interesting circumstances as a result of not listening to your intuition? Or from actually listening to it? If you have, I’d love to hear about it! I welcome you to share your story in the comments. <3