What matters is the doing: replacing fear with freedom

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Deadlines. Some people flourish under these heavy-handed task masters. Others freeze. I dwell somewhere within the pages of both extremes, depending on the hour. Most recently, under deadline for a 20-page submission earmarked for critique at an upcoming writers’ retreat, I struggled. With doubts, fears, frustrations. I hollered self-recriminations like “fraud” and “you suck” into the recesses of my monkey mind. I contemplated canceling my reservation. But, in the end, my goal was to write. And I did. My goal was to make deadline. And I did. And, for the most part, I had fun. Except when I didn’t. In my experience, I can attest to the truth that I am my own worst critic. Even though, I know my submission lacked passion. It lacked voice. But here’s what I learned: It doesn’t matter how I feel about doing something. What matters is the doing. And I did. In spite of fears and doubts and jitters. Which leads to freedom. Because I survived.

What are you afraid of?

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Are you ready to do the thing?

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Now that I’ve been reading and writing again (see “A new way of thinking…”)—essentially, practicing that which I want to become greater at—I can’t deny a rekindled motivation. And the vision I have for the future is now more than a pipe dream: it’s a plan. Complete with deadlines and manageable goals mapped out. During a recent workshop exercise, the leader had us close our eyes and imagine ourselves a year from now. That we’ve done “the thing” we’ve always dreamed of—written that book, earned the degree, gotten that job, took the trip, retired early. What does it feel like? How about three years… five years… 10? How does it look? Then, we repeated the exercise, only we never did the thing. It’s a year from now: how do we feel? How about three, five and 10 years later? What do the people closest to us say about it? The truth is: time goes by whether we do the thing or not.

What’s your thing?

1 way to squeeze the best out of life

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They say that “attitude is everything.” Although I don’t know who they are, I do know truth resides in those three words. Case in point: As it relates to my day job, certain pet peeves are inherent in the publishing industry. For instance: missed deadlines, unresponsive contacts and broken commitments—to name a few. However, I’ve begun to look at these examples not as “thorns in my side” but as challenges to motivate rather than frustrate. Surprisingly, this new mindset works! Also, pertaining to my household finances, I’ve been asked to take a more vested interest in our expenses and investments, as well as the annual tax preparations. This year, instead of approaching the impending weekend with an overarching sense of dread, I planned several fun diversions to break up the monotony of pulling together the requisite materials. This resulted in a productive and enjoyable two days laden with laughter and goodwill. The time will pass regardless. Why not squeeze the best out of it?

How’s your attitude?

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Taking stock: evaluating the process

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Taking stock

 

The goal thing seems to be working for me (see Crush your goal(s) one step at a time): I set a realistic amount of time to work on my book project each week and adjust my life around it. The first week I tallied in a bit shy of my goal, however, after a few tweaks I settled into a comfortable writing groove. But then two things happened: 1) I got stuck; i.e., I’ve forgotten most of several weekend’s worth of mountain musings where I fleshed out characters and plot points; and 2) Two new writing opportunities fell into my lap: one a contest and the other a guest blog post (both with back-to-back deadlines). Rather than view these new commitments as diversions, though, I’d like to think of them as opportunities to bend and stretch my writer’s muscles. This way, I can remain flexible so I’m ready to jump back into my book project when the time is write.

How is the goal thing working for you?

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Rediscovering our personal truths

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personal truths

This week while I wrapped up a work project, I rediscovered six personal truths that make me tick: 1) I do what I love. If I ever again must be reminded of the answer to the question, ‘Am I in the right field, career-wise?’ I need only recall the Adrenalin rush I experience each time I write. Now I want more. 2) I practice self-love. Self-love and cutting ourselves slack don’t necessarily mean the same thing. A glass of wine to relax, yes; chased by frosted Saltine crackers to de-stress, no. 3) The perfect time to start something never arrives. I am ready to take the next step toward living Today. 4) No (wo)man is an island. I desire to fellowship with others, to encourage and share accountability. And my editor usually knows best. 5) Better late than never. All good things take time. But deadlines are still important. 6) I am good enough. Yet there will always be room for improvement.

What personal truths have you rediscovered?

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Cut yourself a little slack

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Cut yourself slack

 

When you leave town in two days, your adult child needs her mommy; you work overtime to stock up the refrigerator, toss extra loads of laundry in the wash and get the house in order; your day job deadlines loom; health issues mean extra doctor appointments; you accept another yoga challenge and the cat vomits on your leather sofa—you might not be able to accomplish each of the steps you’ve outlined to achieve your goals. I reminded myself of this when the time I set aside to write the other night came and went (after more than a month of daily writing). If I expect to pursue my dreams guilt free, then I must also cut myself slack when I’m sidetracked by life. Instead of writing for a prescribed period, maybe I pare it to half or jot down thoughts whenever possible. Once (most) everything is under control, however, it’s important to dive right back in.

How do you know when it’s time to cut yourself slack?

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Getting unplugged

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Unplugged

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Between doctor’s appointments, adult-child drama, work and financial commitments, freelance deadlines, an eight-week yoga challenge, keeping clean clothes in the closet and food on the table, and trying to log in eight hours (not so much) of Zzzzs every night, I’m stretched thin.  The household tasks are going by the wayside and I serve more leftovers than anything else, but life continues.  Albeit with piles of dust bunnies, and laundry that needs folding.  But I’m in serious need of a break.  And so I’ve begun making plans for myself.  I’m calling it my weekend “unplugged.”  For me, that means no social media, including games, no cell phone (except for emergencies only, of course), no email or laptop, no TV or radio.  And no chores or outside commitments.  As soon as my freelance deadlines are buttoned up, I’m running away.  For 24 hours.  I don’t have the details completely worked out yet, but that’s okay.  I know I’ll be traveling light.

When was the last time you got “unplugged?”