500 Words Project

Today is day 18 of my 500 Words Challenge, a challenge to write at least 500 words every day. When I started this challenge, I could not have imagined how that would impact my life this month. I have always enjoyed Jeff Goins’ writing and when I saw his offer to participate in this challenge, I decided it would be a fun thing to do in the new year.

In the early days of this challenge, the suggestion was made to simply get up earlier. Rise early and meet the day, have some quiet time, and use that time to write. The only time I have ever been an early riser was during the time I lived in Barbados. I often found myself wide awake at 5 a.m., feeling ready to meet the day and full of energy. In the last four years since returning to the States, I haven’t been that early riser. One of the suggestions made was to consider getting the book The Early to Rise Experience by Andy Traub. And so I did. Never one to do things half-heartedly, it seemed the thing to do both challenges together. As I read through these challenges, one of the things that struck me was that Andy Traub is also a fan of Seth Godin. In my book, that makes him a good guy automatically. Simply put, he speaks my language.

I had hoped that doing this challenge would push me to really work on my book this month. It is time to get those words on paper and ship that, send it out into the world so that others might read it. As I wrote the final chapter the other day, it’s hard to describe the feelings that came over me. What is left now is to write the introduction and the acknowledgements, do some editing, and put it all together to publish. Indeed, this book will ship in 2014 and that is an amazing feeling.

As I think about the word “hope,” it is one of those words that says “maybe” something can happen. Maybe this time will be different. Perhaps this time I can finish this project and ship this book out the door. It is a word of uncertainty. I remember growing up saying things like “I wish…” My grandmother, who I loved dearly, always had a saying for that, one that I won’t repeat here because she could be a little saucy in her language, one that taught us that just wishing for something didn’t make it so. It’s the same with hope, at least it is for me. Just hoping something will happen doesn’t make it so.

Hope without actions is just that, hope. My month started with hope. I hoped I could do this. I hoped I could actually make a little more progress on this project. I hoped I could make myself wake up early. I hoped that I could turn around the funk I found myself in the last few months of 2013.

On day 18, I no longer hope that any of those things will happen. I know they will. I know when I show up, do the work, things happen. It matters. I know I will ship this book this year. I know that 2014 will be a better year than the previous one. Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse. There is nothing in that says that “I hope” related to the plans for my life. It says God knows the plans for my life. These exercises have become a daily reminder of that verse and what it means for me. While that verse also says God gives me a hope for the future, that word has a different meaning to me. It is a confidence, an assurance, for the future. I now find myself looking at this verse I have claimed in a new light.

Today, I find myself grateful, grateful for two guys who threw out challenges to a group of people they didn’t know, to simply say show up every day, do the work, and it matters. They have removed my hope and replaced it with knowing that it’s all possible. And that, as the saying goes, has made all the difference.

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