You know how everybody says to “keep your head up” when things get tough?
I don’t buy it. At least not when it comes to business or personal growth.
Because you know what happens when I keep my head up? I see what everybody else is doing. And when I see what everybody else is doing, I begin to doubt myself. I question myself.
And I spend a lot of time not doing what I should be doing to get where I want to be.
When I see Sally Freckleface is making progress, getting clients, and changing her life… it makes me envious and sometimes a little depressed. Never mind the fact that she’s probably 2,817 steps ahead of me in her journey and started quite some time ago… I still get overwhelmed with the work ahead of me that I have to do to be even remotely close to where Sally is right now.
I ask questions: Is all the work worth it? Can I really do this? Can I really become this?
I start writing all kinds of stories in my mind about Sally, her journey, and myself. Oh, I’ll never be able to compete with Sally. Sally probably just got lucky… that only happens once in a lifetime, not to people like me.
Sometimes I go into a Facebook group and post something about how nervous I am about starting, finishing, or just trying X, Y, and/or Z. I ask for other people’s opinions and advice, believing they’ll be the ones to take me with them in some way, or say some magic words that’ll make me a little less scared or make the journey easier somehow.
I’ll then spend three or four hours of my day sitting on Facebook, in a fog of weird anxiety, watching my notifications to see how other people respond to my post. Sometimes they won’t say what I need to hear, which can discourage me; other times, they’ll temporarily mask my fear and make me feel invincible. If they can do it, so can I!
Their responses change my emotions — how I feel about what I need to do — but they don’t get any of it done. I essentially spent four valuable hours of my time trying to make myself feel better.
But… but… but… I need answers. I need support! I need motivation! I justify it by calling it research. I’ll say just about anything to myself to justify the time spent… to justify WHY I’m not just doing the work.
All the time I spend worrying, fretting, wondering, and posing question after question — that won’t have an answer specific to me until I get out of my comfort zone and DO SOMETHING — is time I spent not doing anything.
Not getting anywhere.
Just like yesterday and several days last week (!!).
I’ve fooled myself many times into thinking all this stalling is just research; I’m just “doing my due diligence”… but in reality I’m procrastinating. I’m afraid of what will happen if I just get out there and do the thing. And I don’t even realize the more time I spend scared and inactive, the longer it’s going to take me to achieve my goals. That’s the real scary part!
Have you been there with me?
It’s okay; we all have. I tell you this very personal story because, despite my own success in business, hardly a day goes by where I don’t find myself scrolling through my Facebook feed, yet again, to see a Sally Freckleface broadcasting her success… it sends my self-confidence plummeting, and it sends my self-doubt soaring.
The same questions bubble up: Is all the work worth it? Can I really do this? Can I really become this?
Many times I’ve let myself just stew in the bad feelings, prolonging the procrastination day after day. Thank goodness I recognized what I was doing to myself.
I’ve gotten to the point now where I just don’t scroll through Facebook to see what everyone else is up to.
I don’t bother “checking out the competition.”
I ignore pretty much everyone most of the time. I’m not going to base my potential for success on someone else’s effort. My success depends entirely on MY effort.
So I just
scribble neatly write out my goals, and I tackle them one at a time (or one step at a time, if it’s a big’un!). I know if I spend time on Facebook or too much time snooping around on other people’s businesses, I’ll spend less time making progress on the home front. I know what I need to do, and I don’t need to know what everyone else is doing in order to do it.
It’s not that I don’t like other people or don’t want them to succeed — quite the opposite. But when I’ve already got a clear path to success and already know what I should be doing, the stuff somebody else is doing is just a distraction.
plum plumb out of ideas, I’ll go looking for more, but until then, my head is down.
Ignoring everyone else.
Doin’ the work.
Been there? Holler at me in the comments!