One of the hardest pills to swallow is that some of the work we do today will not bear fruits anytime soon. To be fair, immediate results are motivating. To conquer this feeling and stay motivated for the long haul requires an understanding that it’s okay if the answers or results you are looking for come later.
One of the most significant events in my life and career looked like it was a wasted effort at first. In 2019, I was selected for the For Creative Girls mentorship program. I was matched with Dami Odufuwa, a woman I long admired for her bravery and excellence. In fact, I personally requested to be matched with her. She was (and still is) the existing version of the woman I want to be. A proudly open feminist woman breaking boundaries and merging her advocacy for gender equality with her work. At the time, I had just completed NYSC and was anxious about being ready and fit for the workforce. I had this fear that my opinions on gender equality and other “controversial” subjects will mark me as a pariah in our conservative society and that the dreams I had for my career were impossible.
In those two months, we spoke often and I shared my fears and dreams with her. Now here’s the thing, there are so many questions she asked me then that I didn’t have an answer to. For instance, what do you want to write about exactly? What magazines do you want to see your work published in? What is your dream company?
At the time I was so focused on my fear, I was incapable of seeing past it. When at the end of the mentorship I didn’t have any answers to those questions it felt like I had wasted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It became more clear to me that first, I needed to figure out what exactly my goals and second, I needed to prepare myself to get there. I now knew that there was a place for me in the world but I had to now work alone to find it. It was hard to not blame myself for not being more prepared. I felt that if I had focused instead on the possibilities available to me, our mentorship program would have had more results
A few months after, that period with her started to bear fruit. First, I wrote my very first essay that felt like a manifesto to the world, An Angry Feminist, Still Afraid. It went as viral as an essay like that could be. The response was so overwhelming and I knew that I wasn’t alone in my concern about the way women were being treated in Nigeria. It was my “‘coming out” as a woman who had every right to be angry in a world that made me feel unsafe. That same essay did not only lead to my first job, but it also won me a grant to a writing fellowship from African Women’s Development Fund where I got to meet young women like me who were telling transformative stories that will change the world in different ways
It’s been two years since that mentorship ended and I keep going back to my notes from that time to keep me on track in my journey. Ever since I decided to build my own business, I try to remind myself that this is the foundational stage and the challenges and disappointments I’ve face so far is all part of the process. I now understand that all answers will not come when you think they should, but the puzzle eventually solves itself.
How to stay motivated when results are not immediate
If you are going through a season where you seek answers, here are 3 things I keep in mind to get through it;
Understand that fear is a distraction
Look beyond it. Sometimes the things I was afraid of happened, but it’s a minor bump in the grand scheme of things. There’s so much more waiting for you beyond fear. Also, I’m a big believer in making mistakes and getting them out of the way.
Start from where you are right now
Seriously, take the least risky option for now. I’ve noticed that small wins encouraged me to go for bigger ones. I started with publishing an opinion piece on Bellanaija on rape culture. But once I got over that anxiety, I was prepared to share another “unpopular” opinion.
Tap into your support system
Having a supportive community can’t be understated. Especially on the days your own mind is clouded with “it’s impossible”. Even if it’s just one person, talk to them and let them speak life into you. Ask for help when you need it, everyone needs a hype team and it includes people you’ve never met.
After I read The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes in 2020, I would imagine her cheering me on whenever I went outside my comfort zone. Let’s do the work now and reap the fruits later. ❤
How do you stay motivated in the middle of challenges? I’ll love to hear it, please share in the comments or send me an email