Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Mondays are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I would like to share a little something that made me smile.

Perfectionism Part II

Last week, I posted about perfectionism and how it keeps most of us from chasing our dreams. If you missed it, you can check it out – here.

I have noticed that the universe has a way of tossing things in our path when it wants us to wake up and notice something. In my internet travels this week, I came across some other posts that were talking about the same thing.

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In Why Perfectionism Kills Your Creativity, writer Eugene Choi, explains that perfectionism kills our creativity in three ways. It shames us for making mistakes. It uses fear instead of passion to motivate us. And it stunts our growth.

Another post by author Jeff Goins, didn’t talk about perfectionism specifically, but talks about the secrets to a good life. He talks about having passion, embracing fear and doing the hard scary things. In essence, he preaches anti-perfection. Last week, I explained that perfectionism is a form of fear and it causes us to procrastinate. If you follow Jeff’s advice, you will go after your dreams with passion and not let the fear put up a road block.

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Over at Tiny Buddha, Karen Mead’s post, “Overcoming Perfectionism: The Joy of Just Okay,” really spoke to me. She spoke about embracing the experience more than the outcome. This is something I have always struggled with. I get so wrapped up in the planning and worrying about everything turning out perfect that I don’t pay a lot of attention to the process.

As creatives, and just people trying to live a good life, we need to let things go. Let’s learn to allow mistakes to happen sometimes. Let’s embrace the moment and actually experience the process of whatever we are doing. Let’s compare ourselves only to ourselves and not worry so much about what everyone else is doing.

In the words of Neil Gaiman,

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
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Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Mondays are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I would like to share a little something that made me smile.

Little Miss Perfect

Hello, my name is Cheryl, and I am a perfectionist.

We need to start an intervention group for perfectionism. Maybe they exist already. [Note to self: Google this because you need help.]

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I am one of those folks who let perfectionism keep me from doing a lot of things. This is especially true if it is something other people will know about or see. I have always been this way, I think, but when I was younger I had enough of a fatalistic attitude to just go with the flow and do it anyway. As I have gotten older, this attitude has been softened by fear.

For all the peer pressure to fit in that we survive (or don’t) in our school days, I think adults have it worse. I know a lot of people who are acutely aware of and worried about what other people think of them. They don’t do something for fear of being foolish. They don’t laugh loudly in public. They don’t try anything new.

I have fallen into this perfection trap myself. I have resisted signing up for a class because I would be called on to do something that I may not do well. I have stayed on the side line instead of jumping into the center of attention and doing something others may think is foolish. I have stood tongue-tied in a conversation because I didn’t value my own opinion enough to voice it.

But, really, what is the worst thing that could happen?

You sign up for a class in ballroom dancing because you want to learn to dance. You take violin lessons because you have no idea what to do with this beautiful instrument and you want to learn to play. You go to a writers’ conference because you want to learn from other writers.

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No one in any of these situations will be perfect.

None becomes a dancer without stepping on some toes and falling on their butts a few times. Dance anyway.

No one (except the rare savant) picks up an instrument and plays advanced concertos flawlessly and with great emotion. Do not compare your beginning efforts to those who have recorded the classics and played Carnegie Hall.

No one writes a perfect first draft, or second draft, or published draft without help from an editor and a lot of great beta readers who pick it apart first. Do not compare your first draft to the published work of a master author. Sit your butt in the chair and write anyway.

Perfectionism is fear in disguise. It has very little to do with not making mistakes, and everything to do with how we want others to see us. It is a terrible disease. Symptoms are procrastination, failure to progress, hyper-sensitivity, nausea, heart palpitations, feeling stupid and self-flagellation. There is no known cure other than to do what you want to do and do it publicly. Put yourself out there. Own it. Make some noise. Make glorious mistakes. Wallow in them, learn from them, and move on.

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In the book, No Plot, No Problem, Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Mont), says we need to embrace exuberant imperfection. That has stuck with me since I first read it in 2007. I have that quote taped to my desk. My problem is remembering to live it.

I am getting better. I guess, I am in recovery. I finished and published my first novel. I have become a speaker. I have attempted to play new instruments. I have tried to put myself out there more and not give much thought to how others perceive me. There is a chance for us recovering perfectionists to live a normal life after all.🙂

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Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Mondays are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I would like to share a little something that made me smile.

How NOT to Be a Writer

I receive email notifications from Jeff Goins, a writing/blogging/branding guru I follow. I have taken classes and webinars that he has offered and highly recommend them to anyone needing a kick in the pants to get off the couch and start living your creative dream.

In a recent email, he explained that the best way to NOT become a writer is to wish you were one.

Sitting around thinking about writing doesn’t put words on the page. It will not make you a writer.

If you want to write, paint, dance, run, whatever – doing it is the only way to actually make it a reality.

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Seems like an obvious statement, I know. But if it is so obvious, if you are sitting there saying, “Well, duh!” then why is it so few people are actually following their dreams? Why are we filling our lives with wishes for things we want to do but don’t?

Why do we get so caught up in the details? What writing software should I use? Should I paint in oils or acrylics? What style of running shorts would be most comfortable and make me aerodynamic? We spend far too much energy and time focused on the little details and far too little time actually doing the thing.

Why? Fear.

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I talked about that a bit last week. Fear and how that is the reason we procrastinate. That is also the reason we obsess about every detail before we actually sit down to write. It is a form of procrastination. And we do it because we cannot for one second believe we are really a writer. I mean, who are we to think anyone would want to read our words? Who do we think we are to try to put ourselves out there on display for all to see?

The first step in moving forward in pursuit of any dream is to believe we are already what we want to become. If you have typed a sentence, then you are writer. If you have applied paint to canvas, you are an artist. If you have tied up your sneakers and ran around the block, even if it about killed you, you are already a runner.

You have to own it.

Coming out of my own little writer’s closet took a lot of courage. I told my husband first. Then a few family members. It took years before I could actually say it without blushing and mumbling.

“I am a writer.”

It has been 10 months since my first novel came out. I just recently stopped quantifying that with an explanation that it is self-published. It is out there. And I own it. It took a LOT of work and I am happy with the final product- the story, the formatting, the cover. It is everything I wanted it to be. So, yes –

“I am a published author.”

Choose your dream. Own it. Believe it. Make it yours.
Repeat the phrase daily until it sticks – I am a _________!”

own it

If you are looking for a little jolt of inspiration, I have posted on this topic before – here, here and here.

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Mondays are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I would like to share a little something that made me smile.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Oh, Procrastination, killer of dreams. Why do you taunt me so?
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It is a rare person indeed who knows what they want to do with their life at a very young age and has the determination and wherewithal to make it happen early on in their adulthood. Rarer still are those who can instill their entire lives with the passion they first started out with.

 

Most of us are so busy trying to find something that will pay the bills without us losing our minds. Some of us are lucky enough to land in a job that we enjoy while making ends meet. I was lucky enough to do that.

 

After graduating from college with a Bachelors in Music and Business, I floundered around in retail management for a few years. I had worked retail since I was sixteen and was pretty good at it. I had some connections that got me into ToysRUs (an old district manager from my Barbara Moss days was in charge of the local TRU at the time, and my sister was running the sister store, KidsRUs, in town). I transferred to the Buffalo, NY district as an assistant manager and spent the most miserable year of my life there. Not that there was anything wrong with the company, the store, or the people. It was a great company to work for and everyone was nice, but I lacked passion for my job.
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Fast forward a year, and I was back home, engaged to my high school sweetheart and looking for something different. Thanks to a family friend, I landed in a medical billing company without a clue as to what I was doing. Two years into it and I was managing the anesthesia account for the company. The learning curve was huge, but I was enjoying it. A few years later, the anesthesia group stole me and asked me to be their practice manager. I am still there, almost 20 years later. I have continued to feed energy into this career, pursuing various certifications and most recently becoming a certified coding instructor and dipping my toe into teaching workshops and speaking to groups of coders and billers.

 

Following these new avenues has kept me interested and instilled passion into my day job. Even the best job gets stale if you don’t continually thrive to pursue new skills. But is this the dream of my life?

 

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis understands that I dream of writing. As a closet writer for the majority of my life, you would think that I filled all my spare time frantically scribbling words and stories on every scrap of paper I could find. Not so.

 

I was the worst kind of closet writer. I kept my passion hidden from everyone including myself.

 

I didn’t write at all after college, and even then, I was penning journal entries instead of fiction. I buried my dream and my passion deep down. I buried it under excuses -no time, no energy, won’t pay the bills.

 

I procrastinated. Big time.

 

I was 39 years old before the urge to write a story bubbled up and out of the confines I had placed around it. 39. Years. Old. Half a lifetime for most, a full life for some. I had squandered all that time paying the bills.

 

Yes, I enjoy my day job. Yes, I am passionate about learning as much as I can and pursuing new challenges there. But it is not my dream, and everyone needs their dream.

 

So, why do people procrastinate instead of running towards their dream with open arms and a heart full of joy? I think people put off chasing their dreams because they think the timing needs to be perfect. They need time and energy and financial independence so they can quit their day job and just ___________ (fill in the blank). The problem with this is that if  _____________ becomes work you may not want to do it anymore. The above argument is an excuse. It is just covering up the real reason we procrastinate.

 

What’s the REAL reason we procrastinate instead of running towards our dreams?
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Fear. Not only in what could go wrong, but what we have to give up or change if we actually succeed. It took me half a lifetime to realize that. I wasn’t so afraid of failing. Hell, I expected it! But what if I didn’t fail? What if I actually became a writer who could pay the bills with my words?? Would my life change? Could I handle that?

 

I failed to realize two very important things.

 

1. Success NEVER really happens overnight. If I were to be lucky enough to be an “overnight” writing sensation, it would truly take months and years. During that time, I would be modifying my life in small increments. I would not need to make any sudden big scary changes.

 

2. It is actually okay if I am NOT an “overnight” success, if my dream never pays the bills. There is such a thing as being a passionate amateur. And that is okay, too. As long as I am putting out my best possible work and not just jotting down a few thoughts and hitting “publish” on Amazon, I will be a writer. And if it never pays the mortgage, I can actually live with that. Yes, it would be truly awesome if Pixar wanted to make my book into a movie, but until that time comes, I have a job that I enjoy and I am good at it. I am going to continue pursuing my day job with zest as well as my dream.

 

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