It is not uncommon to see you – staring blankly at the sky…or a tree…or a wall on the side of a crowded street…
Or living in coffee shops – painting blank screens with conscious blinks and distracted clicks – surrounded by your mistakes; collecting them as they fall off your shoulders.
You mold them all into a new tattoo.
Your passion is to please, while not forsaking integrity. Your true love is creation and you create to share. To generate conversation. To say something meaningful – even if it doesn’t always come out sounding the way you thought it would.
Like that dream you had.
You operate in organized chaos – in pen scratches and paper rips. You are a collage of messy reflections that blur together like a still pond.
Underneath, your sea life is a brass band sustained by sacred chords and improvised notes.
Sometimes you are settled into your skin. But mostly…the world is strange to you…mostly because you choose it to be.
It’s more interesting that way.
This is a thank you note: for making the strange world a little more sensible for those who don’t know how to speak it’s language.
Please continue to make all your beautiful mistakes – they are so colorful. And kind.
Making elaborate metaphors in the midst of a creative identity crisis
We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed:
A lump forms in your throat as if it were a cough at the dinner table. We try to power through it, periodically grunting – insisting we’re fine when asked.
It’s a small discomfort, nothing to worry about – we swallow harder, determined to clear the doubt before it becomes disruptive.
Suddenly we’ve lost control, convulsing and patting our chests, trying to smother the internal fire. Something that used to be so effortless as breathing is now impossible. Frustration, panic and embarrassment set in.
We look at our most obvious options, sitting half full, inches from our grasp – but don’t take them – continuing instead to gulp air hoping the issue will resolve itself.
Break Me off A Piece of that Self-Composure Bar
In these moments it’s ok to excuse ourselves. There’s a misconception that taking a break – stepping away from something you love for a moment – needs to end in a sort of epiphany or else be deemed a failure.
Yet, realizing the need to take a beat to compose ourselves and catch our breath in private is just as valuable as tenacity.
Our nature is not defeat.
This does not mean, however, that we can make excuses not to return to the table. Even less so does it mean we should laugh it off entirely.
Negativity forms itself in us like any other bodily function – owning it is important. Defeatism is a dish served bland and we deserve better than that.
You already have that: the skills and good habits you already possess.
So, why not start there, yeah? Build on what you already do so well.
Try this simple exercise:
Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything you think you do on a given day.
Next, break each of those tasks, responsibilities, and habits down into number of minutes or hours – estimated, of course (but be honest).
Ask yourself: How much time do I spend on what I am already good at? Could it be more?
Now, get another piece of paper (or notebook) and carry it with you throughout the day. Anytime you begin a new task, write it down with the time you started it.
Finally, compare it with the first list. Were your estimates correct? How much time are you dedicating to the things you enjoy or are already good at?
You may want to run this audit a few days in a row to develop the best picture.
From here, you can clearly see what your day looks like, how much time you are spending on things you need to do, how much time you spend on spinning your wheels, and how much time is dedicated to the things you love (or are already good at).
Use this blueprint to engineer short breaks – 5 – 10 mins. During these breaks, retreat to what you already do well, or love to do (in a realistic way…don’t lose your job as a result…).
For example, you could:
Learn something new about something you love and incorporate it into your ability.
Reach out to others who share your passion.
Find exercises and hacks that will improve your existing abilities.
Identify and define a milestone you would like to achieve – mapping out the necessary steps to achieve it.
Track your Progress
At the end of a month, or a quarter, run the time audit again.
At the end of a month, run the time audit again and ask these questions:
What is something new I learned about this thing or skill I enjoy (or happen to be good at)?
How could building upon this skill or thing improve other areas of my life?
What is a new skill or habit I could roll this momentum into?
This practice helps us understand and realize our potential. If we can excel at something we’re already good at, why can’t we add something new to the mix and get good at that?
You can – and you will.
Grow confidence in your existing abilities and leverage it to achieve greater heights.
While we may not like to admit it – we, as humans, love mistakes.
Mistakes are a reminder that nothing in this world is perfect – that everything in this world is unique; re: vulnerable, flawed, and still figuring it out.
There are two paths to a mistake:
A path of rejection.
A path of refinement.
Rejecting our Mistakes
To reject a mistake is natural: a mistake is what it is, after all – the outcome diverted from intent. We react defensively in these situations; arguing our side of the mistake when it potentially harms the experience of someone around us. We work to justify it or make it separate from our persona.
The path of refinement seeks to understand the root cause, on the other hand. While the action or outcome may have disconnected from the original intent, there is an acceptance and desire to understand where the disconnect happened.
In this place, we can forgive ourselves and turn that forgiveness into motivation – improving follow through on our best intentions.
Practice. (make a mistake). Practice. Practice.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, though. Just like refinement, it requires practice.
What mistakes have been the hardest for you to forgive: of yourself and of others?
The New Year is our blank slate – a chance to start all over. We make resolutions, set intentions, and define new goals – sometimes for the sake of fulfillment; sometimes for the sake of improvement.
However, most resolutions, best-of-intentions, and finish lines have one common through-line: they are born of negativity.
While we must work to acknowledge the things in life that we don’t like – sometimes they cloud the beauty of the things we do like. They abate the value of our skill sets; leaving us vulnerable to the plight of comparison.
So, as you begin your transformative journey for the year – why not bolster your confidence by continuing the things you are really good at…already?
This is a much more sustainable strategy – and one that will help you build momentum to conquer the negatives in your life.
And that thing you love to do: chances are…you’ll get even better at it.