400,000 Reasons To [Almost] Give Up

Matthew R. Harris
Sep 22, 2019 · 8 min read
Photo by Katrina on Unsplash

My writing career began about 10 years ago with a very, very sporadic interest in writing. Over the course of about 6 years I wrote lots of e-newsletters, a bunch of not-so-impressive blogs and self-published one (just one) 5-page e-book about “engineering a high-performance network”, which I couldn’t even pay people to read (LOL).

It wasn’t until 2015 that I made a COMMITMENT to writing.

I made a promise to myself that I would write 1000 words every single day, for an entire year.

Saturdays. Sundays. Thanksgiving. Christmas Day. It didn’t matter. I had to put my head down for a full year.

I had to see what would happen executing on this commitment.

I knew I had a lot of tough days ahead of me. Make no mistake, there were a ton. More than I even care to admit.

In fact, there were more tough days than there were good days but that’s no different today.

The awful days, the excruciatingly painful writing sessions, far outnumber the easy ones. Once you realize this fact it is much easier to deal with. As I always say, “The pain is necessary.” It can ONLY make you stronger.

Writing is such a great metaphor for the underlying process to any great achievement. If you dissect any incredible accomplishment there is always some sort of repeatable process that will surface; some type of daily habit that, compounded over time, will reveal the results everybody is after.

This is true in sports.

It’s true in business.

It’s true everywhere.

I was fortunate to have this concept drilled into my head beginning my career working at a company consistently rated as one of the top sales training organizations in the world. Their message was often redundant, but very simple:

Forget results and focus on behaviors. Learn to master your habits and you will master your life.

I’ve always believed that developing a momentum-building daily habit that aligns perfectly with your vision, is the key to unlocking your true potential.

When you pair your dream with a relentless plan of execution, the results will naturally take care of themselves.

So my real vision was to become an author and build a personal brand for myself that would create countless opportunities in the future.

Writing became my discipline. It became the activity that was going to create momentum in my life.

Every writing session I had, from that moment on, was life and death.

There was nothing in the world that could stop me from putting those words on the page.

Every day was a battle. Every day my mind told me that I could “take just one day off”. But, I knew I couldn’t. I knew a single day off, would become another. And, so on.

I had to finish what I started. I had to keep this promise to myself.

My singular focus was to simply continue stringing together consecutive days of writing. It was that simple, yet it wasn’t easy.

I kept pushing myself to become stronger, mentally.

I kept pushing myself to create something that would change my life.

I kept pushing to make an impact in other people’s lives.

When I started, I had no clue what the result of this 365 day commitment would be. I just knew that I had several professional setbacks and I felt like a lot of things were happening that were completely out of my control and I wanted to regain control.

On the first day, I opened a blank Word document, stared for a half hour and then just started typing. This became my daily ritual.

As soon as I didn’t like the direction I was heading I would save the document, open a new one, and start over.

I wrote a lot of garbage. A LOT. The “documents” folder on my laptop became a digital trash can.

Even to this day, I will occasionally open these old documents and cringe. Surely it wasn’t ME who had written all of that junk…….sometimes the truth hurts.

However, as bad as all of that writing was, it’s always a good reminder of my progress. There isn’t a Master in the world who wasn’t once a beginner.

After 3 consecutive months, without missing a day, I decided it was time to publish some of my work.

I knew posting blogs in a public domain would challenge me to get better faster, or else I would face the wrath of internet trolls and online bullies who have no problem telling you how much your work sucks! (Note: I really think publishing your work as a writer is a crucial step. If you never make yourself vulnerable and put your work out there, you will never grow.)

That’s when I started my first blogging website, which was titled, “Yes, You Can — The Entrepreneurship Journey”. (I’m posting the actual link to this website, but please, please be easy on me. I’m very fragile…just kidding. That’s a lie. I’m really not.)

This was a very important step that helped me discover the types of topics I enjoyed writing about. I started to discover a voice that was uniquely my own.

From there, I just kept writing every day and slowly started to publish blogs that I was proud of [at the time]. Looking back now, I’m mostly embarrassed. My content was weak. My style was elementary. My messages weren’t succinct.

Shoot — I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog in a year and say the same exact thing. But, that’s all part of the process.

I believe every awful writing session led me to a great one.

Every mediocre blog I published, helped me create a better one. Every paragraph that made me shake my head in disgust, led me to one I was proud of.

A few months passed and I landed my first UNPAID writing gig. Time to pop the bottle of champagne, right?!

Did I mention that I was NOT getting paid for any of the writing I was doing anyway? I didn’t think I had to.

Writing wasn’t paying me big bucks. It actually wasn’t paying me any bucks. But, nonetheless, I became a columnist for a website based out of Boulder, Colorado with my first official column entitled, “Matt’s Motivational Mondays”. (here’s another link I’d prefer you didn’t check out…)

This was another step forward. I don’t know if it was big one or a small one, but I didn’t care, and still don’t. A step forward is a step forward.

This column was important. It gave me a weekly deadline. I had to publish a blog on Monday morning. It put pressure on me to think more carefully about my message each week.

This blog was also blasted out to several thousand people on a weekly basis. I couldn’t sound like an idiot. I’m sure I did a few times, but, I certainly tried hard not to!

As I built my personal blog, and published blogs for my column I still needed other areas to direct my writing. Writing 1000 words a day really adds up. You create a lot of content very quickly at that rate.

It was about 6 months into this writing commitment when I decided I was ready to write a book. I had never done this before, obviously, but I was ready for the challenge.

I began dedicating a couple of writing sessions each week to my various book projects. (Of course my attention span was too short to focus only on one project).

This gave me a variety of outlets to channel my creativity, which was nice. There were still days where I experienced the dreaded Writer’s Block. But, anytime Writer’s Block would set in, I would just open up a journal and just start typing whatever was on my mind.

I still do this. It’s how I work through the tough days. It’s a process that helps me overcome the difficulties that I consistently experience. It’s a tool that helps me fight through the inertia that occurs writing. I think you just have to work through it. You can’t expect too many easy days!

Now I know what you’re thinking……What about RESULTS???

I’d be lying if I said I never cared about creating results from my writing because I did, and I still do.

After 12 months of writing 1000 words every single day, here were the results:

· I built 2 websites

· I published over 100 blogs

· I wrote rough drafts for 5 different books (not a typo)

· I became an official columnist for an actual business/website

· I wrote over 400,000 words

· I made $0 writing

400,000 words is the big number that stands out to me. It’s not a small number. It’s even more interesting to see that none of that work paid me a dime! But, that doesn’t matter, especially in the beginning stages of any creative process. The bigger lesson is this:

Developing a momentum-building, life-changing habit isn’t about the result of your efforts. Sure, there will be results, but what’s more important is who you become throughout the process.

In 1 year I became a real writer.

I wrote the rough drafts for 5 books that I will NEVER PUBLISH.

I did all of that work for me. Nobody else.

I put in all of that time and effort to develop myself and to understand who I wanted to become.

All of that writing helped me discover my voice. It helped me craft a message.

Ultimately, it led me to the realization of my first official, self-published book, “Relentless Forward Momentum — a tactical 6-step approach to becoming a fearless and unstoppable goal-crushing legend”.

And, that book is just another small step towards an even bigger vision.

After 365 consecutive writing sessions I learned more about myself than any other time in my life.

I learned what it really meant to commit.

I learned what the phrase, Relentless Forward Momentum really meant to me.

It means always finding a way to move forward and create momentum in your life. It means building a powerful vision of who you want to become and then EXECUTING.

In 365 consecutive days I never quit. I didn’t take a single day off. I never stopped short of writing 1000 words.

That in itself is the biggest accomplishment of all. That is what I am most proud of.

I made a commitment to myself and I honored it.

Writing has done so much for me as a person but it doesn’t come easy for me. Even now.

It’s a battle every day. But, if you’re not willing to fight every day to make your vision a reality why even have one?

Writing is work. It is hard mental labor. There are many days where you are not proud of what you write. 90% of what I write is never seen by anybody other than me. But, it’s all part of the process.

It takes bad writing to discover good writing.

It takes experiencing adversity to develop strength.

It takes failure to succeed.

And that really is the point.

You may not want to write, or like to write, or be good at writing, but neither am I. You need to write. Either literally, or figuratively.

You need to find a daily habit that coincides with the person you desperately want to become. This, and only this, will provide the results, the confidence and the momentum it takes to be great.

That I promise you.

So start doing something. Take the 1-year commitment like I did and see where it takes you.

Forget the results.

Forget the failures.

Forget all of things that might [and probably will] get in your way.

Do it anyway. Do it for you.

If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll love this one too, entitled “Showing Up Doesn’t Guarantee Victory”.

I also publish work on my Relentless Forward Momentum website. And you didn’t hear this from me, but if you go here you can get all 3 of my books for free (say whaaattt?!?!), plus you’ll get regular inspiration, motivation and strategy sent directly to your inbox. Check it out. :)

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment in mind, body, and soul.

Matthew R. Harris

Written by

Author of Relentless Forward Momentum | Fitness Fanatic | Washed-up NCAA Athlete⚾️ | Free-market Promoter | in love w/ @katyperry | #RFM

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment in mind, body, and soul.

More From Medium

More from The Ascent

More from The Ascent

More from The Ascent

Why So Many Startups Fail


More from The Ascent

Sinem Günel
Mar 4 · 8 min read


Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade