Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Opposite of Living is, Guess What? (Podcast #7)


Ever seen someone successful and caught yourself wishing your life had turned out like that? What if's play out in your head, as if someone controlled your life like a string puppet, and you just went along for the dance. I know you do. I do it all the time, then pinch myself for falling into that excuse- trap of thinking I have no control over how I turn out.

I usually blog toward the interest of writers, but this message works for all parties. We all too often sabotage ourselves, thinking it's for our own good, when in actuality, we're making matters worse. Let's look at how to live.

Face Your Fear

Name something you're afraid of, or a situation that makes you anxious. Your first instinct is to dodge the matter altogether and remain in your comfort zone. Instead, you are feeding your fear, giving it credence. You never overcome the issue, and it grows to even bigger proportions.

For instance, when I'm invited to speak at a conference, my initial, gut reaction is to decline. That's because the idea of leaving my seclusion on the lake to dive into a sea of people, maybe hundreds of them, is like rubbing sandpaper on skin to me. But if the offer is a good one, compensating me appropriately or offering wonderful networking opportunity, I make myself accept. I'm better at these events than I used to be, and people scoff when they hear I'm introverted, but by facing my fear several times a year, I embrace it and become better at coping. Afterwards I'm on Cloud Nine, because I invariably walk away with a contact, a freelance offer, or new readers for my work.

Embrace a fear. Dare yourself. You will come out on the other side so proud of how you did . . . and how you grew.

Quit creating obstacles

We create most of the obstacles in our lives. We hate phone calls because they interrupt us. We hate social media because it erodes our day. We don't like exercising because it hurts, or it's inconvenient, or we have to look at the buff and steel-abs people working out beside us, making us depressed. We don't complete that novel because we're afraid of criticism.

I can't, because...I hate it, because...I don't want to, because...

You are giving names to obstacles, building mountains in your own way. I recently received a series of phone calls while in the midst of Chapter 24 of a WIP. The interruptions drove me to frustration, and I almost blamed people for calling when in reality they couldn't know that I was deep into an argument between two characters. Instead, I decided not to take calls for two hours. Obstacle gone.

I make excuses for my backside spreading while I'm writing. Then I start justifying the hours at the keyboard, claiming it's part of the package of being a writer. Of course, my inner self knows better, and the cycle goes round and round. So instead, I pick up the dog's leash and go for a walk, using the time to massage a plot point or develop a character. Obstacle gone. Several obstacles, as a matter of fact.

See how in avoiding the obstacle game we create opportunity and actually satisfy our desires?

Embrace the uncomfortable

We all have comfort zones, and it's a matter of beating the laws of inertia to step outside of them. Inertia is the resistance of an object to change in its motion, to include a change in direction. For instance, when we like Facebook one way, and they change the rules or design, we fuss about adapting. Just  look at what happens with Windows puts out a new operating system. Have you embraced Windows 8? Not me, because I enjoy Windows 7. It's much easier to sit in a chair than jog a mile. The list goes on.

David Krueger, MD is an Executive Mentor Coach, CEO of MentorPath and well-published author guiding individuals in their goals to live life to its fullest. He states, "Comfortable is not a place you begin, it’s a place at which you can arrive" in his blog post Invert Wisdom for Writers. Frankly, his advice prompted me to write this post.

You know how we con ourselves into not trying hard? For instance, running. We walk slowly, maybe longer than we need to, saying we don't want to hurt something, or the track is uneven, or we are a certain age, or we don't want to get a shin-splint. So we just stroll. Each person has limitations, but all too often we justify stopping or slowing or not going running at all because of the discomfort we'll cause ourselves. But we don't improve without that discomfort. That uncomfortable feeling is a sign of improvement.

Some people are afraid to cut their hair. Who has the guts to waltz in and ask a stylist to decide how their hair ought to be cut? The funny part of this fear is hair grows back. Even if you hate it, six weeks later, it's grown back. The new style might give you pep and enhance your image. But you never know until you dare to let somebody whack on it, trusting their judgment.

Writing is the same. If it's easy, it's not good. I'm asked often in emails to review someone's writing and tell them if it's good or not. Many of them are writing down stories, usually avoiding the hard knocks path of being rejected, not studying how-to advice, not accepting criticism from a peer group, or not reading successfully published material to dissect it for its value. Instead, they want me to nicely tell them. It has to be painful to improve. We have to see where we fall short, no, we have to WANT to hunt for our writing flaws, because finding them puts us one step closer to being better.

Embrace the unknown

I love this quote from Dr. Kueger's article: "You can tiptoe through life very carefully and arrive safely at death."

What a wake-up quote!

Haven't traveled to a foreign country because you're afraid of the language and cultural differences? Do it, or you'll regret not having done it later.

Haven't changed jobs for fear of leaving the one you are comfortable in . . . though you hate getting up and reporting to work? Think of how exciting it would be to try something new? How much happier would you be in a job you love? And if you don't like the new job? You keep looking.

Haven't tried to traditionally publish because you're afraid of what publishers and agents will say about you? Give it a serious go. Frankly, I profess that most people self-publish due to a control issue. They fear not having all the say-so in their work, when in truth they don't have enough knowledge and experience in marketing, publishing, and design to be exercising all that say-so. It's why ninety percent of self-pubbed books languish in obscurity.

Don't know how to do something? Go for the gusto and learn how. Whether it's sky-diving or fly-fishing, horseback riding or watercolor painting, baking a quiche or mastering crème brulee, study it intently and make it happen.

Don't self-publish until you understand the breadth and depth of all types of publishing, so you can walk the walk and talk the talk. Only then can you make an informed decision. Voila, it's also less painful.

You envy people who dare to reach out and grow.

What do you know well? Then blog about it. Write about it. Or if you do not write, then capitalize on it, becoming good at it for your own personal satisfaction. If you want to learn something new, then accept it as a challenge, lower your shoulder, and plow into it, aiming to make yourself happy that you did. Now that's living.


Karen said...

I seriously love this post! You help make me a better person all the time. I know what it feels like to not push yourself because you're afraid or uncomfortable.

Thanks for your words!

Hope Clark said...

As a runner, I imagine you do, Karen. Good luck on your new goal! I'll be watching!

Unknown said...

All true,if one gets organized there is a way to manage duty and the process of living one's own life.
The final result shall be what we deserved.