Getting out of your head and into taking action
When I was first thinking about starting a business (It was actually 8 years after that I finally kinda sorta had it figured out). I spent months trying to figure it out by staring at a computer, writing in worksheets, buying online courses, and downloading every free PDF, masterclass, and free challenge on the internet to finally figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life.
Night after night I’d pop open my laptop and start thinking. I’d have an idea—I'm going to only write about hummus! I wish I were joking. I thought I was going to build a business around dip. Now, I believe you can create a business around just about anything. Building a thriving income around dip might have been a stretch though. I was grasping for an idea—a glimmer of hope to save me from the corporate grind.
I’d get super stoked about an idea. Would tell literally one person, they’d scoff, and then I’d squash my concept. Onto the next. One person thinks it sucks. It will probably fail anyway.
I was so worried about every little move of my life that I didn’t even know what made me smile anymore. How do I untangle the stress of every little thing and notice what feels right? I had to step back and see the entire picture to identify my favorite parts.
I’d do this over and over and over again.
It only started working when I stopped seeking validation.
I was asking the wrong people. I wasn’t thinking about what I really WANTED to do. I was trying to find something, anything, to help me start my career over.
If I could go back to that girl on the couch eating too much chocolate, I’d tell her to get off the mother-loving couch and just try something. Anything.
I sat back overanalyzing every single move. It was like I was taking a magnifying glass to my life. I’d judge the tiniest thing, or worse, let someone else do the judging, and if what they had to say wasn’t what I was hoping to hear, I’d move on. I wouldn't be crushed about it—I just couldn't move forward without a cheering section.
When I started my first blog, it was a vegan food blog. I'd write a new page of my website then run it by a handful of people. Judging every word, every paragraph.
If I weren't completely clear on my next step or what exactly I was doing anyway, I'd end up stuck. Stuck and paralyzed.
I used to love drawing and painting. I'd spend hours as a kid with my bedroom door closed, working on a single drawing for days. Then, someone said something about one of my drawings. “That doesn’t really look right.” And I put the pencil down. I didn’t pick it back up for years.
What's the point? I'm not the best.
It was as if someone was standing over my shoulder as I slowly drew the first line on the page.
Wait, stop! You're not using enough pressure. It needs to be a #6 pencil, not a #4. That line isn't long enough. What are you drawing anyway? You should hold your pencil a little more to the left.
What in the actual fuck? I don’t even know what I'm going to draw yet, but you're over my shoulder judging every pencil stroke? Ah, screw it. I suck, I should just put it down.
That was what I was doing to myself which halted any semblance of action taking.
Now, imagine all the stuff you say in your head about your work. The thing you're afraid to put out there. Listen a little more closely, and you'll notice you may be judging every little thing.
There’s so much judgment happening you can't possibly have the room to create anything. Nothing gets created because you can't even get started. You can't start anything without being overly critical.
Getting lost in a spiral of critique.
Take a step back. Or thirty.
You wouldn’t judge a best-selling author based on just a paragraph of their book, or a speaker on a sentence 10-minutes into their TED Talk.
Develop the patience to consider the long game. Your entire season. Your entire career. You wouldn't toss an entire baseball season because one swing was too high, and you wouldn't quit your business because of one bad hiring decision. Get on with it and take another action.
Your body of work is a gigantic painting.
Hopefully, you’ll admire it more like a masterpiece and less like a hot mess.
When you do this, you’ll can be just a little less critical of yourself. That little voice in your head telling you that you suck? You’ll be able to tell it to shut up.
Take a 30,000-foot view. Pretend you're a commercial airline pilot. Looking at the big picture is hard. It takes honesty and most of all, it takes patience. You need the patience to see 10 failures in a row, and a little bit of faith knowing that the 11th attempt will be the winner.
Sometimes it's hard to take a step back without an objective opinion. And by objective, I don’t mean your husband or sister or aunt who doesn't understand your business. Hire a coach. Join a mastermind group, create one of your own.
Judge every book by the opening line, and you might never read another book again.
You’ve got painting to do. And a masterpiece to create.
You've got a life to make. A creative piece, a life, a business, an empire. Pause, put it down, take a step back and you might actually impress yourself.
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