My mom recently came back from an epic backpacking trip through Nepal for about 28 days. She is an incredible woman. At the age of 59, she was able to withstand the freezing cold, the difficulty of breathing in high altitude, and the challenge of keeping her motivation up for nearly a month in which she hiked 8+ hours a day.
I’ve been hiking/backpacking with my mom once– and her stamina was incredible. She easily out-hiked me all the times we’ve gone– I always had a hard time keeping up with her.
I’m at the ripe age of 28– and she is 59. We are nearly 30 years apart– how does an “older” woman like her have so much motivation to keep going, and how does she have the physical and mental strength when it comes to the great outdoors?
I asked my mom recently– “Mom, how did you manage to hike constantly for 28 days straight in Nepal– and what life lessons did you learn?”
What she told me was some of the wisest and most practical life advice I have ever heard (Moms are great, aren’t they?)
Anyways she told me this:
“Eric, the biggest thing I learned while backpacking Nepal was this: if you look all the way up to the peak, you will instantly lose all motivation. You are cold, tired, hungry, and barely have enough energy to move. But what you need to do is this: just tell yourself, ‘Just one more step forward.’ And based on this, you keep focusing on putting your left foot in front of your right foot, and your right foot in front of your left foot.”
I was pretty amazed by this piece of advice– and I think we could all learn from her words of wisdom.
I think in life we often set ourselves very lofty goals. We have goals like: “I want to be a millionaire” or “I want to be the best photographer in the world” or (perhaps more modestly) “I want to get 100 more followers/likes/favorites on social media”.
However when we look too far ahead of ourselves and at the top of the peak, it is easy to get discouraged. How can we make it so far– it looks like so much work, and it seems almost impossible.
Lao Tzu once said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
So how can we apply this to our lives and to our photography?
Whenever you’re working on a photography project (or just want to stay motivated in photography) tell yourself:
“Just one more photo.”
The idea of working on a year-long project can feel very daunting. When we think of long-term projects, we can be overwhelmed by the work we need to put in– and then the negative “self-chatter” kicks in: “You’re not a good photographer, you will never make good photos, who cares about your photos, your photos look amateur at best.”
But cut out that negative chatter and just keep pushing forward. One photograph at a time.
You can also apply this to so many different disciplines. For writing, I have a hard time staying “inspired” to write. Lately I’ve been writing very long and in-depth articles, and every time I sit down to write, I feel that I need to do better than what I did last time. That creates a lot of pressure on myself, which actually prevents me from doing any writing.
But instead, I try to remind myself: “Eric, just write a sentence.” Anybody can write one sentence. And once I sit down and write that one sentence, that one sentence goes into two sentences, and then three sentences– and before I know it, I’ve written several paragraphs.
Life is tough too. Sometimes living itself is an act of bravery.
The days you have shitty days (we all have shitty days once in a while), when you feel unmotivated, question your purpose of living, feel depressed, or lack of enthusiasm– just remind yourself, “Just one more step forward.”
Keep pushing forward in the face of adversity, and over the course of a day, several days, weeks, months, years, and a lifetime– you will have lived a life you are proud of.
If you keep just “taking one more photo” – you will soon over the course of days, weeks, months, and years create a body of work that you are proud of.
So starting today– can you always remind yourself, “Just one more photo”? Think about all the great work you can create.
Here are some other articles that will help you stay inspired and motivated: