Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. ~ Galatians 6:9
Call it coincidence, but in the first week of the new year, a time that is infamous for vigorously begun and eventually retired resolutions, I've started both voice and piano lessons. Between lessons and practice time, that'll add up to roughly 12 hours of time each week spent sharpening those skills. I'm not starting from scratch on either front, and it's rewarding to already see some measurable progress! I'm hopeful that in a couple of months, I'll have made great strides...if I "do not grow weary."
What does it mean to lose heart? Why is motivation so often elusive?
Well, there's this quality called "discipline." And "diligence." And "perseverance." At the basic level, it's the ability to keep on with the course of action even when the "feels" aren't feeling it. To "for the joy set before us," (see Hebrews chapter 12) endure and push through the pain, soreness, brain overload, discouraging setbacks and mental blocks.
Motivation feeds off satisfaction and enjoyment. These two are sisters and best friends, so where the one is, you will not find the other far away. And while we often set goals to work toward, it is worth investing in our relish of the journey as well as the finish line.
That's why working out to music, and with a friend, helps me not give in to my sore muscles. Why treating each warm up exercise as a little song helps me not tense up from focusing too hard. Why playing a song I already love disguises the tedium of practicing chord progressions.
If it's like that for short-term pursuits, how much more for the long hauls!
Here are some ideas for keeping the mundane energized:
1. Partner up
Companionship is a surefire way to keep a task unboring. Whether unboring means irritating or fun depends on both your attitude and the person/s you are with--but at the very least monotony is held at bay! At best, you will be able to encourage each other and cheer each other on in a healthy, affirming way.
2. Eat soup with a side of chocolate (not that I don't like soup)
Incorporate an old hobby into your project, or combine the activity with another you like. Just be careful to not talk about the combo in the negative way you used to think about the less favorite of the two...or you may find the both of them demoted in your mind.
3. Write with your other hand
Stuck in a rut? Change it up! Dress up to go to the store, or turn kitchen clean up into a musical number. Figure your taxes while listening to a new soundtrack, or bake a foreign dessert to get in the patriotic spirit. Wait--what?!
4. Quit flapping and soar
Stop trying so hard to do it in your own strength. The Holy Spirit is working in us both to will (desire) and to act to fulfill his good purpose for us. We don't have to come up with our own plan. He's already got the perfect role for each of us. Have you asked the Director for his notes on this scene? Catch the right current and flow with it! Don't confuse being busy with being fruitful.
5. Measure twice, cut once
Some things are meant to fall away into oblivion, weights cast off in favor of more worthy treasures. The yardstick is not what pleases us in the moment, but what is pleasing to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. His pleasure is the foundation of any lasting success, and we find joy by honoring him in the process as well as the product of our efforts.
Those are some things that help me. What helps you keep going when the road is rough? Please comment below! Meanwhile, I think I'll go practice "Edelweiss" on the piano....