“Never Stop Starting” & 4 Other Truths to Keep Your Hoped-for Work Alive in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

Never stop starting

On February 24, I sat down to write a tidy little post for those of us who feel like our right-now lives are keeping us from our hoped-for work. Eight posts and over two months later, I’m still learning how to live responsibly in the right-now while not letting go of the hoped-for. It’s continually relevant because it’s a tug-of-war we experience every day.

This “balance” is not for the faint-hearted. Not only do you battle the limitations of the right now, you battle the voices of the right now.

Do you actually think you’re a real writer, a real artist, a real counselor, a real photographer, a real teacher, a real leader, a real coach?

Aren’t you neglecting other things that could use your attention?

Wouldn’t it be easier for you to let go of this dream and settle for a normal life?


The answer is yes. To all of those questions.

And that’s why we need encouragement. Because making space for our hoped-for work when there are sheets to wash and kids to raise and a real job to show up for takes creative strategy and courage. Sometimes we’re convinced that the voices are right. We’re tempted to close the coffin lid on our hoped-for work, cry a few tears, and move on like a responsible grown-up.

I’m mostly for all for being a responsible grown-up. But I wrote this series because I don’t think the answers are as “all or nothing” as we assume. There’s hope in the messy middle. So today I give you one more pep talk in this final post of the series.

1. Honor the sacred rhythms of work and rest.
stream and path

You are not a machine that can be programmed. You are a person who needs to be cared for. A person with limited brain space and finite energy. Rest sometimes feels lazy but it’s one of the most productive things we can do for our right-now work. Whether it’s a weekly one-day sabbath from all work or stepping away from the screen when you feel stuck, learn the rhythms of rest that are fruitful for you. This is how we maintain momentum, sanity, and perspective. Also, your work will be better. I promise.


2. Your right-now life and your hoped-for work may be more closely tied than you think.

While I blogged in the midst of marriage and motherhood and homeschooling and public schooling, I learned how to create content, how to market that content, how to run a self-hosted WordPress site, how to interpret Google Analytics, and how to create basic graphics for my posts. Unbeknownst to me, I was acquiring what smart people call “a skill set.”

A little over a year ago I ran into a friend on a rainy Friday. We chatted for a few minutes and she mentioned that the local non-profit she directs could use someone to help with their new website, manage social media, help create content, etc. She knew I could do these things because she’d been watching me do it on my blog.

All those years of making space for my hoped-for work in the midst of my right-then life? It had layers of purpose beyond what I could see.

desk horiz

Not giving up on writing in the midst of the messy everyday ended up earning me a steady paycheck for my right-now season. I still don’t make money blogging, but I do make money because I’ve been blogging.

My point? Keep showing up and doing the work. Be open to learning new skills that accompany the work. You never know how it may all be mixed up together in happy, surprising ways.


3. Don’t focus on numbers or popular support.

It’s okay to become successful but don’t let wishful outcomes mess with the heart of your hoped-for work. It’s a normal temptation, one that even Jesus dealt with as his own work was finding favor with the masses. I love how Tim Keller breaks down this pivotal moment in the life of Christ:

When Simon told him that there were huge crowds gathered to see him, Jesus said that they should immediately leave. Though he was riding a wave of popular support, Jesus left it behind. Why? He was much more interested in the quality of the people’s response to him than in the quantity of the crowd.  

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God by Timothy Keller; passage referred to is Mark 1:35-38

We want to know that our hoped-for work will mean something in quantifiable terms. We want an “ROI,” a return on investment for all the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve poured into it. Too often, we assume that ROI means “big.” Sometimes it does. But I think we’re prone to measuring results in ways that are all wrong. Jesus wasn’t interested in how many people were in awe of his message. He didn’t come to be popular. He came to change hearts with his love and his truth, to call people to himself. He said the road would be narrow. {That’s code for “most people will reject what I offer.”}

From Jesus, we learn to be wise and even strategic, but not at the expense of faithfulness to our true work.


Jesus ascended to fame. But he just as quickly fell into disfavor, a disfavor that led to his death by the same crowds that had previously cheered him on. But life defeated death. And our hoped-for work bursting forth from the messy right-now reflects this same redemption. Friend, be faithful to the work. Keep showing up. You are an offering to your Maker and to the world he made. He can be trusted with the outcomes.


4. Never stop starting.

You may have awesome momentum for a solid month. And then everyone in your house gets the stomach virus and passes it around for two weeks. Momentum has packed her bags and hitchhiked to Montana. Motivation got tired of waiting for you and took off with Momentum.

It doesn’t take very much real life to yank us off the rails. That’s why you need this three-word mantra: “Never stop starting.”

photo (13)

Isn’t that what we do every day in so many ways, whether it’s exercise, parenting, spiritual disciplines, or sticking to a budget? Just last night I was fed up with schedules, fed up with my kids needing money, and fed up with the dailyness of dinner. I wanted to run away {which is always my default fantasy.} But this morning I woke up with an ounce of resilience and said to myself, “Okay. It’s a new day. We can do this.”

You’ll stop. And sometimes you feel like you’ve got no start left in you. You don’t need a lifetime’s worth of start. You only need enough for today.


5. You need reinforcement.

You’re pursuing who you are while living in a world that is trying to make you into someone else. This is war.

Like soldiers, we need reinforcement by way of fresh hope and steady encouragement and one another. On the days when you don’t feel like fighting and in the moments when you’ve stopped believing, return to this space and remember what you’ve forgotten in the daily grind of right now.


Share it with your friends, your family, your community. You may find some unexpected community in the process. And if you do? Link arms with likeminded others. We all need our someones.

When the right now feels extra messy and the hoped-for work is languishing in a corner, come on over to this place and find possibility again. I’ll have a link to the entire series in the right sidebar. It’s all yours.


Though this is my last official post in series, next week I’ll have a list of ALL my favorite resources — links, books, and online spaces that keep me going and teach me useful things along the way. It’ll be fun.

I can’t thank y’all enough for showing up here. Your company has been a gift. I appreciate each and every word you’ve shared in response. You’ve encouraged me more than you know.

I’ve got some fresh content up my sleeve but I look forward to revisiting this topic of hoped-for work and entertaining your questions on the subject. Keep them coming! What are your greatest obstacles to pursuing your hoped-for work in the midst of your right-now life? What specific encouragement do you need for your own life?


Here are the other posts in the series:

twitter right now work header

How to Embrace Your Right-Now Work Even if it’s Not Your Hoped-For Work

One Gift Your Right-Now Work Is Giving You, Even If You Smell Like Marinara Sauce

4 Simple Ways to Create Time When You Don’t Have Any to Spare

4 Reasons Why Your Right-Now Work Matters to Jesus {even if it doesn’t matter to you}

2 Ways to Give Your Hoped-For Work a Voice. Right Now.

3 Ways to Avoid Despair as You Pursue Your Hoped-For Work

“Never stop starting.” And 5 Other Truths to Keep Your Hoped-For Work Alive in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

8 Favorite Resources to Help Make Your Hoped-for Work a Possibility in Your Right-Now Life


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  1. Joan Rampey says

    Wow! What an incredible post! Paragraph after paragraph of sound advice and strengthening encouragemen…not to mention one of my favorite photos of all time! Love the surfer dude! Keep writing, dear one!

  2. Sara W. says

    I needed this RIGHT NOW. Thank you, sweet friend – and to the man upstairs who always knows what we need.

    • Marian says

      I’m so happy you needed this. Sometimes it’s simply the timeliness of a message that makes it extra relevant for us. Always a treat to have you here!

  3. says

    Marian, this series is so important. Thank you for repeatedly starting to share it with us. And I’m so glad to have connected with you, a soul sister!

  4. says

    I’m a bit later in the game in finding you and this series (thank you, Hope*Writers!), but thank you for this Marian. Your words are pure gold and encouragement to this hopeful writer. :)


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