“So, Why Haven’t you?”
These are the words asked by a dear friend recently when I brought up a longtime desire to write more on my blog and perhaps one day write a book. This question hit me right in between the eyes. The very thing I said I wanted to do, I wasn’t doing. And, like a good friend, he was calling me out. He knew he had a point, and so did I.
The question made me want to figure out why I was not acting on the very thing I claimed to want so much. The desire to write was not new, I had thought about and wanted this for a long time. So, why was I eager to do something but not eager to act on it?
While I’ve known for years I have wanted to write and share my story, I have allowed analysis by paralysis to grip my thinking. “I’m waiting for the right time”, “I don’t feel like I have figured out my voice”, and “I am still trying to figure out the best thing to say” were just a few of lines I used to delay taking action. I fooled myself into thinking that somehow additional insight or time was going to be the fix.
In “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader”, Herminia Ibarra writes that insight is an outcome, not an input. In other words, until I sit down and do the thing – as in writing – then how will I ever develop a voice or ideas for what to say? Just starting to take action will lead to developing a voice and future direction of what I want to say and who I want to say it to.
As for timing. I’ve learned that when it comes to pursuing something you want in life, the only “perfect time” for action is now.
This may or may not be true for you, but rejection is one of my biggest fears. When I feel there is an opportunity that I may not measure up or be acceptable to others, I am gripped. The interesting part is that, as a rule, I am a very confident person. I am stubborn enough to think the I am right in most debates (even though I seldom am) and if I am not looking to gain acceptance from a person or group, I care little of what others think.
I have, for too long, feared that others won’t accept me, my story, or my work. I’ve deceived myself with a narrative that trying will mean I will be rejected and being rejected will mean failure. The reality is that, yes I will be rejected. You may be reading this and not really like what you say. And I am learning that that is OK.
All of these things have culminated to a whole lot of excuses to stay still, ignore my dreams and act like they don’t exist or that its’s not worth taking the risk. Over time, I allowed laziness to set in and become an unhealthy force in my life. Excuses, lead to laziness, which leads to inaction.
Pushing back and just doing
Since that pointed question from my friend, I have experienced a few other “I’ve had it” moments where I discovered that laziness and inaction has crept into other areas of my life and have become more intentional about improving in those areas.
I have also begun pushing back against my own prior excuses and started taking action. In December, I joined a 30 day writing challenge. I was far from perfect at developing a writing habit, but the process did force me into a position of action. In addition, the challenge also exposed other habits to improve on in order to accomplish more of what I want to do.
What about you? What is that thing you’ve strived for but never seem to get closer on? Are you fooling yourself that if you only had more time money or talent, you could act on it? What’s something you can start today that will get you closer to where you want to be?