It’s February. How we doin’ fellow artists? If you are losing steam, don’t lay down your goals and ambitions just yet – especially if you feel like God has placed these things in your heart. If you are feeling a little discouraged don’t give up. In this post I’ll be sharing three helpful ways to get back on track with keeping resolutions.
- Embrace the funk – Fear and doubt are powerful forces. Forces we all experience. When we let ourselves down a few times on scheduled goals that we’ve set for ourselves we let fear and doubt drive us towards something more comfortable, something safe. That something more comfortable is known as the status quo – the way things have always been. We’d rather not improve our situation than deal with all of the internal conflict we experience while trying to change. Know that fear and doubt will always be companions, and that none of us are alone in experiencing these thoughts and emotions. Embrace them as friends. Without them we could never learn to exercise faith. They are letting us know that we are reaching outside of ourselves, and telling us to look to God as our help and guide.
- Replace guilt with grace – Guilt tells us we’ve missed our chance. Grace tells us mercies are new each day. Guilt tells us we’ll never get it right. Grace tells us it might take us a little longer than we thought. When left to my own devices, I am the king of guilt motivation. It can drive my wife Joanna crazy. If I fall short of my own expectations I can be hard on myself and others. Thankfully, over time I’ve learned that guilt is a terrible motivator. Wanting to impress or reach some self-imposed standard may lend itself to some success, but it is not the type of success we want. Grace gives us both the freedom to try, and freedom to fail. Grace teaches us that our value is not in our accomplishments, but in the value Christ placed on us through His work. Grace spurs us on to the things God has prepared in advance for us to do, while guilt spurs us on to what we think we are supposed to do to feel good about ourselves or make others feel good about us. Just being aware of this may be enough to keep us from falling into this trap.
- Adjust your goals – Maybe your goals are a little too ambitious. The self-improvement buffet looks great at the beginning of the year, but our eyes are often bigger than what we can stomach. Make some adjustments if necessary, but don’t trample the seeds of hope that you’ve sown. Life is not an all or nothing proposition. I’m convinced we only learn consistency through falling down and getting back up. Habits form with persistence, but persistence can’t be perfection. If this were true, no one would ever develop a new life-giving habit. If your plate is overwhelming, take it as an opportunity to see what is really important to you. Trim away the fat and pour into the things you are meant to do.
As artists sometimes we feel these things a little more deeply than others. That’s probably what helps us communicate in ways that resonate deeply with others. Even with this in mind I still feel like we can learn to keep these throw in the towel feelings at bay. Beyond these three points it comes down to who we are seeking approval from. If we are seeking approval from people we are doomed to fail. The three thoughts above about keeping our resolutions will only be helpful if we are seeking to please God. This God directed focus lessens the intensity of our internal dialogue and allows Him to work through us more effectively.
I hope this has been a helpful post. Just writing it has been helpful and therapeutic to me. I am doing away with the comment section and replacing it with the In(ter)dependent Artist Facebook page. If you’d like to dialogue more there, here is the link!