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No one said it this was going to be easy. You’ve dabbled with it on and off since you were an adolescent, and now it’s scary to think of making it a real goal.

If you admit to yourself you’re taking it seriously, you make yourself vulnerable to failure. If you keep it a hobby, something you dabble in from time to time, you’re safe.

But something inside you doesn’t want to play it safe.

So you begin. You find distractions: you read books, you subscribe to blogs, you seek out dozens of motivational posters to tack on your wall.

That’s great, but it’ll never get you there. Eventually, you have to make the choice to show up and start doing it.

It’s hard. Excruciating, even. But you keep going. Now that you’ve admitted it’s a goal, you’re committed. To give up would mean failure.

Some days, the fear of failure is the only thing driving you to keep trying. It’s probably not the ideal motivation, but at this point, you’ll take what you can get.

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You make some minor breakthrough. Some quantifiable progress. You feel on top of the word. You can do it. The next day, though, it all comes crashing down.

You’ve lost your progress—regressed, even. You’re tempted to give up. You don’t.

It’s only months later, when you look back at everything, that you see the overall shape of how far you’ve come.

Day to day, you have ups and downs (still), but your long-term trend shows progress.

All those days you felt like a failure, wanted to give up forever—they’re just insignificant blips now.

In fact, you find you can’t even really remember them that well.

This is lonely work. Only you can keep yourself in it. But you know, deep down, that you can do this.

Every day is a struggle, but the ones who succeed are the ones who show up. And, eventually, you may find what used to be a struggle isn’t anymore.

Sure, it’s still hard sometimes, but you know it’s not hopeless. The struggle gets you somewhere. The struggle is what makes it great.

You don’t have to love every second of it. But you do have to show up.

Nathaniel Hunt helps businesses tell their stories. He has a background in content marketing for healthcare, lifestyle, and construction, and many other industries. See his website at nathanielhunt.com, or follow him on twitter @nhuntwriter._