You know that thing - or perhaps, like in my case, "things" - you haven't been doing because you don't want to take the risk?
You don't want to risk looking foolish.
You don't want to risk hate.
You don't want to risk failing.
I just want to remind you (AND MYSELF) that not taking the risk is more risky than actually doing the thing you're hesitating about.
You who are afraid to leave your cage risk something far greater than the safety of its bars.
...you risk never seeing what was possible.
...never knowing your power.
....never making your dreams a reality.
Every day within your self-induced confinement is a day you are definitely not living the life you want.
Go take a risk this week.
P.S. I know things like this can sound trite and are more easily said than done. That's where I come in. If you are ready to make some changes and fast-track your growth, reply to this email to book a free consult with me and let's talk about where you are and where you want to be. I promise that one hour on the phone will give you a totally new level of clarity, whether or not you choose to become my client.
It’s amazing and pathetic how much of my life is the way it is because I don’t/didn’t want to make a decision.
What I don’t often realize is that not making a decision is a decision. Not deciding if you’ll have another kid means you’ve decided to not have kids that are close in age. Not deciding where you want to move means you’ve decided to stay in the same house. Not deciding if you want to grow your hair out means you’ve decided to keep it short. Not deciding how to do your new website means you’ve decided to keep your old one.
Why are decisions so hard for some people? What is so paralyzing?
For me, it’s fear. Fear of commitment. Fear of getting it wrong. And unless I really internalize the fact that I AM making a decision whether I actively choose it or not, I’m going to feel safer just waiting — aka, defaulting to whatever will happen if I don’t act. It’s passive decision-making. And if you don't actively participate in your life by making proactive decisions, you'll be watching other things and other people affect your life while you stand on the sidelines. And that’s no way to live.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been *experimenting* with approaching my decisions as experiments. Experiments don’t need to be perfect. In fact, the point of an experiment is to try something new — possibly even ridiculous or extreme — and learn from it. It’s not supposed to succeed or fail, and that takes the pressure off. No big deal.
The other wonderful thing about doing experiments is the low committment. I’m naturally interested in a wide variety of subjects, and I’ve been historically self-conscious amidst so many people who have their one or two strong interests or things they do forever. The idea of doing the same thing for 30+ years sounds like prison to me. Experimentation allows me to play with an idea or a hobby without feeling like I have to become it.
When it comes down to it, few decisions are so massive that they can’t be undone or changed later. Hair can be cut or grown out again. Moves can always be made again. Websites can be changed again. It’s not as scary as it seems. Yeah it’s frustrating that you put a lot of work into a decision that’s later changed, but oh well. It was an experiment. You learned something. You did something. Action. Forward motion. And that’s far better than scrolling through Facebook while your life decides itself.
What experiments will you do?
Until next week,
“Just do your best.”
There’s nothing that gives me anxiety quite in the way that little phrase does.
Just my best, huh? Is that all?
When was the last time you really did the absolute best job you could on anything?
Maybe I’m just a big slacker, but I can’t think of a single occasion.
Did I do my best in school? Absolutely not. I BS'd my way through tests, speeches, papers, and presentations most of the time.
Do I do my best as a mom? No. I could do so much better.
Did I do my best in athletics? No; I could have trained so much more. Same with musical instruments - I never, ever practiced, so no way was I anything close to my best.
But what is my best? Using all my free time to practice day and night? For those of us who aren’t aspiring olympians, that just doesn’t make sense.
I tend to think in extremes. I can always find a way to do more and do better. And certainly iif I am watching Netflix, eating ice cream, or lying on the couch scrolling FB - and I do plenty of those things - then I am definitely NOT doing my best. Leisure and “my best” (whatever that is) feel mutually exclusive. Which is why I don't think "do your best" is always a helpful exhortation. It's certainly confusing for anyone trying to understand balance. Ahem.
If the idea of *just* doing your best creates more pressure, paralysis, or exhaustion than freedom and motivation for you, here are some new phrases to try:
Just get it done.
Just try something.
Just do what you can with what you have right now.
Or here’s a really radical one: Just have fun.
Wanna try a few of these with me this week? I’ll do my best. 😆
“Great that’s a great place of privilege to say that you can just think differently about your circumstances. Thinking differently doesn’t make a bus come by when you’ve missed it.”
I received the above comment early this week, and I can choose to be like “Oh no! I feel so embarrassed! Did I just get called out for my privilege? And she’s right about the bus thing!” OR, I can choose to take this opportunity to clarify my own thinking and share what I've learned with my readers.
Let's put aside the idea that if you've missed the bus it probably means you didn't plan well. Either way, whatever mistakes you're made in the past become part of your current unchangeable circumstances, so let's just work from NOW.
The above comment is totally on point in that we can’t make the bus come or make other people do things - whatever other people do that may affect us is a circumstance outside of our control. Trying to control other people, the weather, the bus, etc. is manipulation and typically futile. We CAN change our own perspective about those circumstances, though.
As for the p-word, I'm grateful I was pushed to clarify my thinking on it. Privilege is relative, and I will not apologize for mine. What’s incredibly empowering is that anyone, no matter how under-privileged, has irrevocable privilege of changing their thoughts.
This is not manifestation or “The Secret” or saying “I am not running late” when you clearly are. I am not about ignoring reality. What I do know is that one side of a cylinder looks like a circle, but a different angle shows you a rectangle. Reality includes options for choosing your perspective.
The shift comes when you believe your circumstances are happening for you. That missing the bus is somehow for the better - a “better” that perhaps may not be visible quite yet.
That doesn’t mean you ignore disappointment, sadness, anger, or grief. I think it’s very important to feel your feelings, and feel them fully.
As I write this early in the week, I have a neck injury that has restricted my mobility, so I can’t drive, sleep comfortably, or pick up my baby. I have bronchitis so I can’t breathe easily or taste anything and my throat hurts. And I have a fever and mastitis for the second time that I’m really hoping doesn’t get to be as bad as the last time.
Am I feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, weak, and defeated? Yes, I am. Am I changing what I can in my circumstances? You bet. And I also made a list - a list of what is happening FOR me in the unchangeable circumstances - to change my thoughts.
So how is my current circumstance happening FOR me?
And when I look at all of that, I mean really, what did I have on my to do list this week that is more important than those things? This current circumstance is not fun; I don’t want it. But if someone gave me that list and said “do you want these things?” I would say YES PLEASE!
The hardest part for me is letting others down, especially when my husband cancels business meetings to take care of the kids. But that goes back to not being able to control other people: other people's thoughts about their circumstances belong to them.
When things feel hard this week, try making a list of how your circumstances are happening FOR you. Feel free to share it with me if you’re so inclined.
“What do you disrespect?”
It’s one of my favorite questions to ask. Of course, I don’t necessarily ask it outright. Instead I listen for clues about what “doesn’t even matter” to the person, or what she “couldn’t care less” about, or what is “so annoying.”
Those are clues for growth. For balance.
Anything you disrespect is probably worth exploring further. That means I probably have a lot to learn from heirlooms, antiques, holidays, parades, MLMs, sports, mosquitos, record-keeping, paperwork, rituals, traditions, institutions, school, emotions, my plans, my body, that rule about turning off cell phones on an airplane, conventional anything, the DMV, the post office...
There are probably hundreds of things. Hundreds of clues for personal growth.
What’s on your list? What do you roll your eyes at? I bet you’ll make some fascinating discoveries.