I got an email from LinkedIn this week – apparently I have a work anniversary which marks 4 years (Four! Years!!!) since I first launched a website, fired up by the excitement of becoming a 6-figure-earning coach by the end of the summer.
Nice thought. The reality? Well…
Let’s not go there. It’s depressing. But I’ve thought long and hard about why it never worked, and why the hell I’m still here and trying again. I’ll come to that later, but first here are 5 fake reasons I gave myself for not stepping up and giving it all I’ve got:
1. I don’t know enough yet.
Rubbish. Just last week I was sitting at my computer hovering over the Payment button for yet another ‘how to get shit done and make a ton of money by Friday’ type course (I didn’t succumb.) This feeling obviously never goes away. To be honest, I learn the most when I absolutely have to get something done, pulling out all the stops and learning on the fly.
2. I don’t have enough time.
Nope, not true. I just had 2 months with nothing to do but create a website and it wasn’t time that got in the way; it was fear, self doubt and a total lack of organization. (This does not make me look good but it’s important you stop believing this one immediately.)
3. I just have to make some more money to launch.
Actually, this is 50% true. A bit of money to do stuff is nice and stops you feeling like crap for scrounging favours all over the place. But it isn’t essential (depending on what you want to do) and there are other ways you can give back to people who help.
4. The Expert Thing.
This is an insidious little mind-trick that keeps self-doubters stuck for absolutely years. Found something you think you can help people with? Great, until you decide that you have no credentials. Subtly different from reason no. 1, The Expert Thing is mostly concerned with how you look on paper. Nasty.
5. I just haven’t found my “thing”.
(Stop sniggering now) I’ve dipped into numerous careers since leaving school and every time I found something I enjoy I’ve announced that this is the work for me. I’ve been trying to position myself as a [insert career here] for years, and the problem is that every time I make a new label there are parts of me that don’t fit. It’s a fake reason because you’ll never be just one thing; you’re far more interesting than that. Waiting for THE THING keeps you sitting on the sidelines ‘til the end of the world.
So in four years I have been gradually carving a hollow in my favourite sofa cushion, waiting to miraculously be brilliant, popular and ready without taking a risk. In between this I’ve held many temporary jobs, moved across Europe more times than I can count, held a position in a foreign country and done stuff I never did before, surprising myself by doing it well. I learnt loads about myself, made friends, improved my German, launched a website, found freelance work, impressed employers and STILL sat here at the end of it, not feeling ready to start.
And do you know what? All the stuff I wanted to tell people about 4 years ago is the same stuff I want to tell you about now. Let me say that again – my ideas haven’t changed a bit. The essential ‘me’ in all of this has been there since the start, and actually there is only one real reason for still being at square one:
I wanted someone to tell me it was ok.
It’s that embarrassing.
I wanted the get-out-of-jail-free card that would prevent me getting into trouble, meeting with disapproval (or paying £200. ) As a professional people-pleaser (happily now semi-retired) I placed the biggest stumbling block of them all right outside the door. Rule #1: keep people happy.
This really doesn’t work, believe me, and it is a humungous waste of time! The problem is that we’re taught there is a right way to do things and then we feel pretty shitty for not managing to toe the line.
You can’t keep everyone happy. You won’t. The day you muster the courage to do something a bit out of the ordinary someone is going to tell you there’s a better way to go. You’ll meet with disapproval, say something wrong, change your mind (gasp!)and probably embarrass yourself at a party or two (Oh, already done that? Good show.)
Your ‘reasons’ are a protection mechanism, keeping you away from getting it wrong, but they’re not doing you any favours. That little voice inside that is begging you to follow your heart? That’s the one you need to keep happy because it knows what you need. And the ONLY person who has to give you permission is YOU.
So I’m going to ignore my ‘reasons’ now and risk getting it wrong (you’ll tell me, right?).
I hope you’ll be doing the same. You’re worth it.