Guest post by Laura Brown (learn more about Laura at the end of this post)
I’m at a crossroads with my websites and the work I do online. At the beginning of the new year I felt unsatisfied with my work, out of touch with what I really want to be doing. So, I took stock of what I have. My blog is a massive body of work. Built over several years online, writing for various sites, then starting my own in 2006. I have five web domains for sites I really want to create or have already started. I’m involved with content curation and building a web directory of my own. I’m creating visual art almost every day and I’m learning more about creative arts, writing and all sorts of new and shiny things. I’m doing the things I love. So why aren’t I excited, happy and full of great new ideas? I used to be.
I need to change something, but change isn’t easy. First, you have to actually step onto that ledge and change. It’s so nice and easy to remain comfortable and just stay right where you are. You can predict almost everything, you don’t really have to risk anything and tomorrow you will be right, exactly in the same place. Is that really what you want?
I’m reading a book called ‘Your Own Worst Enemy’ by Kenneth W. Christian, Ph.D. I started this book two years ago, I think. I’ve lost track. It’s a book about adult under achievement. I think it was written about me. I’ve been spinning my wheels a long time, getting no where but not quite giving up. Not quite putting my full effort into everything and not quite succeeding. Life isn’t terrible but it’s not quite great either.
The book has a whole chapter just about change. One quote in particular reached out to me, it reminded me of a time in my life when I was very withdrawn and intimidated by other people. I hardly spoke to anyone. At my first job the other (older) women thought I was a Mennonite because I was so quiet and reserved. Then I changed. I read a quote about pretending you are bold (not shy), tricking yourself. I don’t have that quote now.
The quote from the book is: “You write your own autobiography daily, moment to moment. If you do not take risks into account, you will not survive. If you make evading risks your only concern, you miss opportunities.”
This got me thinking about heroine’s in books and movies. When did you last watch a movie (or read a book) where the heroine had to take on some important, huge, scary task she didn’t feel up to? Don’t we always expect these women to go ahead and do whatever the task is, and succeed? Partly because it is a work of fiction, her life is planned out in black and white and she is destined to succeed. There may be obstacles but in the end, by the last page, it will all work out. She struggles but she learns what she needs to know to succeed.
Why do we give her more credit, and more chance to succeed, than we do ourselves?
Failure isn’t always a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be a setback. It doesn’t have to be taken personally. It doesn’t always hurt to fail. We learn from our mistakes. How many times have you head that, but have you really thought about it?
Like playing a simple game… the first few times you play you don’t win. Each time you try again you learn a bit more: figure out the rules, understand the game design and how it works and eventually you come up with a system/ plan that works and you start to win. We don’t give it a half try, or only play with one eye open, using half our abilities, half our focus or half our energy. A game is fun, usually there are minimal risks and the results have a short term effect.
However, our lives and our careers are important. The very time we need to be giving it our full effort, we sometimes pull back. Afraid to try and fail. Well, if we are only putting in a little effort and only using a little of our talent… of course we will fail. We doom ourselves.
What would that heroine in the book do? She can’t hold back, spinning her wheels. There are only so many pages in her book, she has to get active and learn how to succeed. So do I!
I have to start exercising my skills, talents and intelligence so I can learn to succeed. I have to make mistakes and fail a few times so I can learn what doesn’t work and discover what does work. It won’t be smooth sailing, but I’ve been coasting along and it’s not what I want any more. I want to refocus my energy, skills and talents and actually try 100%, holding nothing back.
Luckily, I have good resources which I have underused in the past. I’ve got a shelf of books I bought and have not yet read. I’ve got friends I met while being in the right places at the right time – the times I didn’t take advantage of opportunities. Yes, I’m shaky. Yes, I’m still not superwoman with bottomless confidence, willpower and skill. I’m just me, imperfect. But, I’m going to stop putting off my own success just because I don’t want to risk failing and learning and then trying again. I’m going to be a changed woman and learn to change. Wish me luck cause I’m sure I will fail a few times along the way.
About the Author