‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ Winston Churchill
Legacy projects often turn into long-term projects. As such, working on your legacy project starts out fun at the beginning, but once the excitement dies off it just becomes a matter of keeping going long enough to reach the end. Here are 7 secrets I have learned along the way:
1. Set milestones. If you approach your legacy project as one big thing, once things start getting tough you will feel discouraged by the huge amount of work still to do and be more likely to give up. Instead, you should divide your project into manageable chunks, that you can tackle one at a time. That way, you can focus your daily efforts upon reaching the next milestone, instead of feeling discouraged at how far there is still to go.
2. Imagine reaching the end-result. It is easier to work on your legacy project when you can picture the end-result. The easiest way to keep the end-result in mind is if you write about it, in all its wonderful detail. Really sell yourself on it. Then put what you have written somewhere you can easily see it, and re-read it every time you feel like giving up.
3. Become a fighter. Approach your legacy project as a war against your inner demons, and every day as a new battle. There will be days you will lose the battle, but remember that you are a fighter and you have to win the war. So get your mojo back and get back into the fight the very next day.
4. Set up a good structure. Don’t just rely on your willpower to keep going. Put in place a structure that will make it easier for you to keep going when things get tough. For example, once the initial excitement died down I found it difficult to keep going on my writing legacy project. I realised that this was because I was working on it during the day, when there were so many other demands on my attention. So now I start work on it at 5 am, to make sure I get at least three solid hours done by the time everything else starts taking over. See what makes it difficult for you to keep going, and set up a structure that will make it easier to do the right thing.
5. Reward yourself. Don’t just celebrate when you attain the end of your legacy project; reward yourself upon reaching every single milestone you have set yourself along the way. When things get tough, we often forget just how far we’ve come, so it’s important to remind ourselves by celebrating our efforts now and again. When you know there’s a nice little celebration to look forward to soon, you’ll find it more pleasurable to return to the daily grind.
6. Make yourself accountable. Tell other people about your legacy project. They will soon start asking you about how it is going, which will motivate you to get stuff done on it so you can answer that kind of question. If you’re uncomfortable telling lots of people about it, consider only telling your closest friend or your long-term partner. If at least one other person knows about what you are planning to achieve, you will feel accountable to complete your project and be more likely to keep going even when you no longer feel like it.
7. Enlist the support of others. The more ambitious your legacy project is, the more you will need the support of others to reach it. Don’t leave this up to chance. Think clearly about the kinds of people you need, and build a supportive network (i.e. people you can turn to) when things get tough. Also, don’t just rely on others around you in creating your supportive network. Get used to creating a ‘you are not alone’ feeling for yourself, whenever you need that feeling to keep going.
The time is now.
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