I had several work projects on my plate. I was very excited about working on each of them, yet I found myself procrastinating. A siren song was serenading me. It was coming from my closet, the kitchen, anywhere but my office. Suddenly, the thought of cleaning the house and a multitude of other distractions were popping up that were neither important nor timely and had nothing to do with the projects I wanted and needed to focus on.
I recognized the emotion behind my procrastination as fear. Fear that I wouldn’t do things right, that I’m not perfect, that I wouldn’t be able to figure out the best solution for each problem. This is fear at its absolute essence, False Evidence Appearing Real.
The truth is: I know how to solve the problems I’ve been hired to resolve. The truth is I’m very good at what I do, and when I trust myself, my fear subsides.
One of my fear busters is getting started on the smallest, tiniest step that will bring me closer to completion. If I am working on a branding project, that one step might be as simple as looking at colors, or picking up a pen and doodling. By taking away the expectation that in one fell swoop I will have a polished and perfected design to show my client without several intermediate versions, I am free to try and discard those solutions that bring me to my end product. In learning what doesn’t work, I discover what does. Learning to embrace failure is a great fear buster that is a friend to creative explorations. Taking action is the path to completion.
I’m Not Superwoman
I was reminded of my unrealistic expectations by attending the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association meeting on Saturday, August 9. Successful self publishers know that it takes many iterations before a book is ready to be published. The same is true when creating a new brand or marketing materials, like a logo or name for a company, although the timeframe is shorter than writing a book. Somehow our brains, or I should say my brain, pictures the finished product with ease but it doesn’t picture the process of getting there. Letting my brain figure out how to solve the problem is pure genius. I just have to let my brain do its wonderful work without putting on the brakes.
An Unexpected Plot Twist
I had a slight interruption in my life that contributed to fear popping up. I recently completed treatment for peritoneal cancer. Over the past seven months, my main focus was getting well. My treatment was successful. It also changed me in some very profound ways, some temporary, some permanent. I stress being patient with my clients, being patient with myself is a little bit harder. It is in compassion for myself that I find the grace to let go and let my creativity flow.
The neuropathy in my fingers (a side-effect of chemotherapy), has made using my keyboard challenging. It pushed me to use Dragon Dictate more often. I can use my voice to enter information into my computer. As the feeling returns to my fingers and toes, I expect to continue using Dragon Dictate. I find that when I do, I get my ideas out of my head and am less inclined to edit while in the creative phase of my work. I am able to express myself and worry less about making mistakes. I can then go back and edit, which requires a different part of my brain to be engaged. My silver lining: I have gained another tool to help me get my ideas into the world with ease.
One Small Step
The famous tagline from Nike, “Just Do It” is a good one to keep in mind when facing challenges. Every project has a beginning, a middle, and an end. If I can start on that project, I can complete it. I know this to be true.