The first video I ever uploaded to Youtube was a letdown…though that’s really not saying much, considering every subsequent video I’ve uploaded have been letdowns too. Hundreds of hours of production total — filming, editing, color grading all to equal to less than several thousand views.
So I quit — because why bother going through the pain of it all if it’s not going to work?
But over the years, I’ve keep finding myself getting back into it it all over again, convinced that this time will be different, but ultimately quitting and eventually starting all over again. And this doesn’t apply to just Youtube; this applies to most things in my life I’ve started and quit, only to start again.
It’s made me wonder: Am I simply incapable of improving?
But over the years, having read and understood more about neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to continuously adjust in life, in response to the activities we do, I’ve realized that it’s possible for everyone to grow. Your abilities at birth (genetics) may impact, but not determine the potential of your abilities.
So it’s made me rethink why it is that I do what I do, entirely: why instead of how.
Why do I need a thousand subscribers? Why do I even do Youtube? For what purpose? Why do I keep going back to it, even though I’m barely getting views?
And it’s always the why that’s the more difficult to answer, because most people already know how to do something. Want to lose weight? Eat healthy and go to the gym. Want to curb your Instagram addiction? Delete it from your phone. Want to find inner peace? Take time to meditate.
It’s never about how. Asking why is difficult because it crystallizes the underlying intent of why you do what you do — it asks, why do I want to do X when Y is so much easier and familiar? Why do I want to suffer through the pain of going to the gym and working out when it’s easier just to eat what I want?
Most of us have a vision, a dream, a goal of what to work towards and where we want to be, but when we realize that it actually takes more work than we’re prepared for to realize that dream, we give up. Because we lack conviction — the reason that allows us to persist through the entirety of the journey with all of its struggles and obstacles. Sure, it’ll be nice to have six-pack abs, but why? Why do you need six-pack abs?
If you lack reason, a desire so strong and necessary to overcome the self-doubt that will inevitably arise, you’re going to give up. The truth is, most people don’t quit because something is hard; they quit when they realize just how much distance there is from where they are to where they want to be — they quit because of their self-doubts, because they wonder if they’re ever going to make it.
But for every tens of thousand of people who’ve given up, there are those who succeed:
An author so intent on pursuing her craft, she’d take her infant daughter to sleep next to her at cafes in order to write.
Two actors so intent on pursuing their passion, they decided to write their own movie when they couldn’t get casted.
An inventor so intent on pursuing his vision that he continued to build 5,127 prototypes in fifteen years even while being broke.
So why? Why is it that J. K. Rowling, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and James Dyson can go on to be such icons of success despite all of their failures and self-doubt?
Because they had a reason. A reason they held so much conviction in, it overcame all their obstacles and self-doubt.
So the question isn’t how, but why. Why are you doing the things you promise to do, to become the person you aspire to be?
As Hollis Stacy said:
“Why do we work so hard to feel so terrible?”
Answer that, to not quit again.