Sometimes the tasks we undertake seem impossible until they are done. Then the next step looks just as, or even more, daunting than the last, and we think “how will we ever accomplish that?” A habit I had with my courses at Athabasca University was flipping through to the end of the study guide and seeing what the big project was going to be. I would consider the topics and, as I worked through the course load, I would keep these in mind. Sometimes, by the time I reached it, I would have picked one already. Sometimes not. But every time that the final looked impossible at the beginning, by the time I got there it was utterly manageable.
I remind myself of this as I continue working my way through internships and toward (hopefully) a position within publishing. It is easy to feel like a person is stuck and not making any progress, but if I stop and consider how far I have come, how much I have learned, and where I am sitting now compared to when I started, I have come a long way. With the courses there are landmarks, assignment 1, 2, etc. there are units to progress through and at each turn, there is a mark and a sense of accomplishment. Once you step outside the doors of the university, these small victories are easy to lose sight of.
Even if we try to stop and take notice of the achievements we’ve made, it isn’t the same as seeing the progression through a program, with the program there is an end in sight. Beyond it, there isn’t a definite end. When trying to get into publishing while being remote there are definitely no clear signposts.
I have found that to keep motivated and to keep feeling like you are making progress it is important to track where you start from and plot the important events out. Then, on those days when it all feels a bit impossible and it feels like you aren’t moving forward, you can go look at the chart you’ve made and see just how far you have come.
Nothing happens overnight, nothing happens without effort and a bit of angst thrown in for good measure. And it is possible that it is not going to end the way you expected when you started, and that is okay. I started my degree with an idea, but I shifted focus as I worked my way through the courses. I added a minor to my degree that I didn’t foresee and that minor has affected the way I see the world around me and how I am moving forward now. It changed my desires in a way that I never saw coming, and honed the dream in a new and exciting way.
Whatever you are working toward, be it your degree or something outside of it. It’s important to track your progress. For my program, I printed out my program plan and, as I selected courses, I penciled them in. When I completed them I highlighted them in blue. It was exciting to see the credits fill up and to see that paper slowly turn from white to blue. I could see my in-progress courses, I could see the completed and I could see the spaces I had yet to fill. Creating something visual, I have found, is so helpful in keeping things in perspective and keeping motivation flowing. So on those days when your brain is dead from focusing on a course or work too long and you feel like it is never going to end, you can look (with little brain power) and see just how far you have come.
Cut yourself some slack and take pride in each step you take towards realizing your dream.