What do you picture when you hear that term? A half-completed home remodel? A partially sketched drawing? Or perhaps the skeletal framework of a rising skyscraper?
For me, WIP represents an unfinished writing project. And I have several. For the first seven years after I quit my day job to become a writer, I amassed WIPs like a squirrel hoarding acorns. I started a writing business, then I started writing citizen columns for the newspaper. I started a romance novel, then I started a children’s book. I started a blog about simplicity, then I started a young adult novel.
Do you see the pattern here? In seven years, I started at least a dozen different WIPs, but it was a rare occasion that I actual saw one through to fruition. It was my habit to start and stop, start and stop, each time thinking it would be the next thing that would be THE thing to fuel fulfillment or create contentment. And for a while it would. I’d plunge full-speed ahead, bursting with excitement and enthusiasm for this new project. But like all things, the novelty wore off and the excuses built up. I’d come up against an unexpected challenge or give in to doubt or just plain decide whatever I was working on wasn’t a good fit for me after all. And just like that, the current WIP would be replaced with a newer, shiner one.
It wasn’t until a little over a year ago, when my feet began to get twitchy after spinning my wheels for seventeen months on the most recent WIP, that I really made myself look into the root cause of my compulsion to quit. And the more I thought about it, the more I was forced to admit that this wasn’t a new occurrence; I’d been a quitter my entire life. But as difficult a truth as this was to swallow, it was also eye-opening. I realized then it was never about the projects. I could have shifted the direction of my focus to a hundred different WIPs and still experienced the exact same outcome. Why? Because I hadn’t changed. As it turned out, I was the WIP that needed attention. And until I found the courage to adjust my attitude and my approach, to identify and face the deep-seated beliefs that I had allowed to hold me back, I was destined to stay stuck on the same vicious cycle for the rest of my life.
But in March of 2018, I jumped off, and so can you.
Maybe you don’t have a computer file full of unfinished writing projects, but perhaps there is some other part of your life where you constantly feel stuck. Maybe there’s a goal you’ve taken a step toward achieving only to take two more steps backward. Or maybe there’s a project or program or hobby that you’ve started and stopped a dozen times. Or how about that one thing that winds up on your list of New Years’ resolutions every single year? You know, that thing you always speak of, but never quite get around to doing?
Whatever it is, I encourage you to keep it in mind over the next several weeks as we walk through the ABCs of a Purposeful WIP. The key word here is purposeful. We are all works-in-progress and we always will be. It’s part of being human. But without a sense of purpose, it becomes incredibly easy to shift into autopilot, to sink into the comfort of our complacency, to give up on ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not supposed to be that way. God did not make us to stay stagnant, he made us to thrive.
So stay tuned here for new posts every Thursday (or if you like, follow along on Facebook to catch the weekly videos) in which I’ll discuss how, within a year of moving past my quitting tendencies, I completed not only the first draft of my novel manuscript, but also the second. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know from my own experience, that progress is possible. But you must be purposeful to make it happen.
*Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the area of self-help, nor am I a counselor, coach, educator, or licensed professional of any kind. It is not my intention to advise but to encourage. You know yourself better than anyone, if you are in need of psychological support, please, please reach out to an appropriately qualified individual.