I read an article, or maybe it was a blog post, a while back, in which an athlete mentioned having a mantra he repeated to himself. He credited it with his success. I wholeheartedly believe him. I wish I could remember where I read it. I wish I could remember who the athlete was or the sport he plays, but I don’t follow sports and those details didn’t stick with me. His mantra did.
I have adopted the mantra as my own. And it is changing my life. Five simple words. I repeat them to myself every day. They have moved me to actions I would otherwise have probably never taken, including starting this newsletter and a community website for writers (Tempest Community Writers).
Commit and figure it out
Just these five words. I’ve actually done this a lot through the years, but never as a defined approach to life and career. When I was in my early twenties, a university drop out, working at a restaurant with no prospects, I decided I wanted to go into medicine. I didn’t have the high school prerequisites, let alone the university ones. But I wanted this, so I committed and figured it out. Seven years later I graduated from medical school.
After a car accident that left me disabled, I couldn’t return to my family practice. If I was ever going to work again, I needed find something else I could do. Counseling had always been a big part of my practice, so I decided to switch tracks. I committed and figured it out. Ten months later I was working as a therapist at a major university.
Committing and figuring it out has taken me through many career and life transitions
After years of working as a physician counselor, dealing with my own physical and mental health challenges, I decided I needed a career change. But what could I do with my skill set? I committed to researching this and came up with life coaching. It was close enough to what I had been doing to make the transition relatively simple. It provided the advantage of working with healthier, less draining clients. But it was different enough that I needed to learn some new approaches and unlearn some old ones. I committed to this and figured it out. I found a fantastic six month program through the Centre for Applied Neuroscience in Toronto. I took the course and now have my own coaching business. But I wanted something more.
I’ve had an on again off again love affair with writing for most of my life
I enjoy coaching. I really do. But it isn’t enough. I’ve been writing off and on since I was a preteen. I love the written word. I love to see stories come alive at my fingertips. I just never believed I could make a living at it. I would write for a bit and then stop. I was writing pretty regularly before my father died. His death derailed my efforts. Later I let medical school get in the way. I stopped writing again when I added children to the mix.
I made a commitment to myself to write regularly about ten years ago. And I did really well with it for a few years. I even completed a few books. And then one of my brothers was diagnosed with cancer. As his illness progressed, I became more and more involved in his care. Matt was an odd character and had never married. He had no partner and no children. My mother was too old and already traumatized after suffering through this journey with another of my brothers years before. My siblings all lived in other cities and provinces, one in another country.
So I took on the job of taking care of my brother
Despite my own health problems. Despite still trying to work part time as a physician. Something had to give, and, once again, it was my writing. Between Matt’s illness and death and a host of other major life events (including my mother’s death) I found myself almost five years into the future and still not writing.
Some of it was never having time to catch my breath and heal from the toll his illness had taken on my own health. But a lot of it was inertia. I hadn’t done anything for myself in so long I no longer knew how to make that choice. Until I read that post.
Right there and then I decided I too would commit and figure it out
As a writing junkie, I had done a lot to educate myself about how to write and edit. Reading about how to do the things I’m interested in is kind of my jam. So is finding places to apply what I’ve read.
I had helped friends, family, and acquaintances out by editing their theses and even their books. But I had never considered charging for it. I made the decision to join some freelance job sites. I did some research. I have been taking courses on Udemy. (I wait for them to go on sale.) I took the plunge. I committed and am still figuring it out. A few people have even paid me to edit and write for them.
Medium was a stepping stone in my decision to prioritize my writing. It gave me a place to learn how to write a blog post, and to run a publication. It allowed me to publish short fiction regularly and build an audience. Unfortunately, with a change in the site’s terms of service, I needed to find another venue.
Again, I committed and figured it out. A friend told me about Substack. I researched it and learned everything I could about the platform, then launched this newsletter. It’s all part of the journey, the commitment to again write regularly.
I am writing book four of a YA science fiction series that has lain dormant, but never forgotten
I kept making abortive attempts to finish book three and start the fourth and final installment. I had been away from it so long, I didn’t really believe I could do it. But now I committed and figured it out. Book three is done, book four in progress. And book one is going through a rewrite.
My adopted mantra has brought new energy into my life. Energy I thought I had lost and would never find again. It’s been so successful for me that I’m adding a new mantra: “Make things happen.” Just watch me!
How do you motivate yourself to accomplish your goals? Do you use a mantra? Drop me a note in the comments!