Happy New Year and welcome back from what I hope was a rejuvenating holiday break. Normally I jump into dreaming up what I want the new year to be, but the reflective mood came over me, specifically one night at 1AM waking me out of half-sleep and forcing me to get up and write down my thoughts. I wish I could access that energy at will, but I’ll take interrupted sleep over hours of sitting at my desk pulling teeth over writer’s block (my arch nemesis!)
At the end of every year the prevailing theme is burnout, and the end of 2018 was the worst I’ve ever felt it. Actually all of last year I carried that feeling with me to some degree, and writing this post is an attempt at figuring out why.
2018 was the year of overthinking. I felt depleted and overly concerned with outside validation. Buzz words like ‘strategy’, ‘growth’, and ‘engagement’ dictated choices I made and how I spent my time. No business that wants to survive can ignore these things, but tending to them can frankly suck. For me it turns into an unhealthy and unattainable pursuit of perfection.
I’ve known myself to thrive under pressure, though I hate it and feel like dying when I’m under it, but last year I felt the pressure causing me to shrink back. I have a bad habit of focusing only on what I haven’t done vs. what I’ve already done, and it adds a lot of unnecessary weight on my back.
Disappointment in myself fed into the negativity, which made me continue to shrink back and become less confident in what I was doing. You saw this in the form of me posting much less frequently on the blog, and what you didn’t see was my constant second-guessing over everything I did and paralyzing indecision over what to do next in my search for creative fulfillment.
My internal voice saying everything I do isn’t good enough is my biggest monster, and in facing it I’m moving forward with this reminder: Second guessing yourself can sometimes be a helpful warning, but more often, especially in the context of creativity, it’s fear. Plain ol’ stupid fear. I resolved long ago to follow fear as a sign that I’m stretching outside my walls, or am in need of doing so, and headed towards something exciting that I can grow from, and last year I forgot all about that. The only thing in my way was me!!
Going into the new year now confronting this, I want to lead with these confirmations:
1 | What makes you unique and interesting is when you just be. Don’t overthink it. Don’t do things out of trying to predict what will be favorable. Go back to what makes you excited and come alive. Share about it all. Lean deeper into who you are, and be more of it. Be your true and happy self.
2 | Success, progress, or self betterment doesn’t have to involve massive changes and constantly reinventing yourself. Stay consistent and do that one thing you want to do as best as you can.
Life is not a list of accomplishments or a challenge to do as many different things possible in a short amount of time. Anything worthwhile takes focused energy, and while I’ve long romanced the sentiment behind “doing it all”, experience has always proved that this quest ends in self-sabotage.
Nurturing what you already have isn’t being stagnant or unambitious as long as it’s something really important to you. It’s enough of a goal to continue the path you’re already on if you trust it will get you where you want to be. If it feels wrong, don’t be afraid to look for what feels right. Start with a small change in a different direction and see if you feel better. Let your evolution unfold at its own pace.
Small daily habits compound into something greater if you stick with them long enough. Rewarding achievements commonly have the same back story involving doing the same things over and over for a while to get better at them. What’s seen as tedious is, on the flip side, a mastering of your craft and at least a better understanding of what you want, you just have to keep going.