So… Several weeks ago I discussed the importance of daily practice and letting go of fear and doubt. I announced I would practice writing daily and since then—not only have I not posted anything—I’ve done absolutely nothing. I should also make it known that, earlier this month, I announced in a staff meeting at work that I was going to study for the GRE and try to make the February application deadline for the master’s program I’m interested in. Again, I’ve done absolutely nothing. So, what happened?
It seems that as soon as I commit to a goal I pretty much send it to an early grave. Turns out, there’s a lot at work behind the scenes that causes this phenomena.
First of all, Our Scumbag Brains…
In his 2009 blog post, Shut up! Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them., Derek Sivers discusses why announcing our plans has such a detrimental effect.
Telling others about goals to create a level of accountability makes a lot of sense. We think if we tell other people, those people will hold us accountable. But, what really happens is the act of telling gives our brains the same level of satisfaction as if we had actually completed the task. Since our brains are chemically satisfied, we are less motivated to actually do the work.
And what about accountability? We choose to tell people who love and support us. The problem is, they also tend to be the people who love and support us even when we fail. Accountability goes right out the window because the people we expect to hold us accountable support us regardless of the outcome.
Worst of All, Fear…
After my last blog post, I had great ideas planned out for the next several days worth of content. I had time scheduled specifically for researching and writing my posts. I even started the research. Then, I did nothing.
As soon as I’d made the commitment, fear took hold. All I could think was, “Who cares?” The self-talk was debilitatingly negative. Thoughts like:
“No one cares what I have to say.”
“No one reads my stupid blog anyway.”
“What difference does it make?”
Through my interest in Pat Flynn, I also learned about Nicole Dean from NicoleOnTheNet.com. What interested me most about Flynn’s interview with Dean on the Smart Passive Income podcast (SPI009) is Dean’s motto, “Making the web and the world a better place.” Dean operates with the perspective that if you’re going to put anything on the internet, you should at least try to make it a better place.
As I was drowning in fear, all I could think was how am I making the web a better place? Is what I’m doing worthwhile or am I just wasting space. In that place of fear I felt like such a waste of space. For two or three weeks, the mere thought of this blog was tied to negative feelings and self-doubt.
Finally, I remembered it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if anyone or no one cares, it doesn’t matter if this is a waste of space and no one ever sees, reads, or remembers it. I’m doing this for me. I’m doing it as an outlet, to practice, and to learn. To heck with what anyone thinks about it or if they even care enough to think about it.
I regained my confidence and still took more than two weeks to finally sit down and write.
Just as bad, Time…
I’m a slave to my 8-5 and I hate it. I’m a slave to my mortgage and my bills and my student loans and I hate it. I want so bad to get out from under all of this. There are so many things I would do if only I had the time.
It’s 2:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon. I spent this morning feeling sorry for myself and thinking about things I would do if only I had the time. Then I realized how much time I was wasting. It’s important to have downtime, of course, but sitting around feeling sorry for yourself is nothing more than a waste of time. I will still take time to relax, but I’m going to try to be more conscious about how I do it and when I could put my time to better use.
There’s so much I need to learn and so much I need to do if I want to free myself and regain ownership of my time. I’m often intimidated because I feel like I need more formal education, which costs money I don’t have and debt I don’t want to incur. I need to remember, however, and everyone should remember, that we have access to invaluable resources world-wide. There is a wealth of knowledge at the click of a button. It’s only a matter of using our time and the world wide web more productively.
I can do this, if only I can stay focused.