Well, it’s the second week of the New Year, and everybody’s out on the interwebs strutting their new resolutions.
I think resolutions are pretty cool. I mean, any time you’re using a catalyst to make a change, you should be proud of yourself.
But I’ve got my own personal issue with resolutions, and that issue is that I don’t do them. I’ve made resolutions in the past and, like all the studies say, about three weeks in my “I’m gonna get fit and look amazing this year,” resolution turned into, “It’s called a couch workout, okay? Stop judging me and my ice cream you judgey assholes.”
So I decided that just doesn’t work for me and did something different. Now, I create a list of goals that I want to accomplish. It’s usually like ten things, all do-able within a year, and I totally follow the nerdy, business-y “Make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal!” shit, because even though it’s cliché, it actually works and I only care about doing stuff that works.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Resolutions. They’re pretty useless for me so I decided to give all that up.
So what I’m trying this year is something new.
I’m doing a mantra.
Yeah, I know. What I first thought when this occurred to me was, “Oh god, really? No. I just… I can’t. It’s silly. Too silly.” I can hear you thinking over there, behind the screen, “Oh, you can’t stick to a resolution, but you’re like, bring on all the mantras!?”
But after some serious thought, and getting over sounding douchey and saying, “Oh, I have a mantra for this year,”1 I actually think a mantra will be way easier, and here’s why:
My mantra this year is Do It Anyway. (Ta Da!)
Seems like a weird one, but I think it’s going to help me do some amazing things this year.
Boarding a plane with a one way ticket in 2014 was exhilarating and exciting, but I’d given myself a bit of a break. I’d calmed myself down by saying that I was using the time to rethink my career goals. Which was true, but also temporary.
Then, I decided to actually use those writing skills, which I’d been practicing for like 23 years, and maybe make some money off them.2
But to me, these were all logical jumps. So it was scary but not terrifying. It was new but not petrifying.
These were things I’d always wanted to do and I figured I’d finally learned “enough” that with some supportive words I could convince myself that I’d passed some imaginary boundary that allowed me to actually travel3 and write for a living.4
But what about the things that I want to do that are not logical jumps?
Like singing. I love singing. It makes me feel good, in the way that writing makes me feel good. And calms me in the same way writing calms me. My love for singing pretty much matches my love of writing.
But I’ve always felt that I needed permission to do it. And I’m embarrassed to admit this, but when it comes to some things, I’m basically desperate for validation.
One of those things is singing. It’s like I need someone to hear me and say, “Wow, you’re really great, you should do more of that.” And while that’s happened a few times, and I’ve been able to make it into auditioned choirs, the things I remember are the recitals where I started out flat and had to start over.
I remember the feeling of failure when I transitioned from a larger choir to a smaller choir and realized I wasn’t as good as the other singers there.5 I remember getting scared when I had to sing in front of people. I remember the shaking that started in my knees and slowly climbed up the rest of my body until I went to sing, alone on the stage, and the voice that came out was not the voice I knew. I remember as I got older that I was unwilling to share my voice with anyone other than the few people I was closest to.
Basically, I remember only my fear and insecurity. And I’ve let it get the best of me.
And why am I doing that? Who am I bothering by being me? And so what if others are bothered? I have the right to the space that I take up, as long as I’m not taking away from others.
So this is the year of Do It Anyway. When I say, “I want to record a few cover songs this year, but I’m afraid,” my response to myself is, “Do It Anyway.”
When I say, “I want to launch my first product this year, but am scared it will flop since I basically have no idea what I’m doing,” my response is, “Do It Anyway.”
Fear is never going away, but time doesn’t stand still. It’s a resource that I can either use productively by trying something I love, or waste by doing nothing.
And looking back on things I wanted to do but didn’t is terrifying. Far more terrifying than the idea of failure or ridicule. So that’s it. I’m going to do it anyway.
Sometimes you’ve just got to embrace the awkwardness that certain words make you feel.↩
Wow, what a great idea, right? So obvious. And yet…↩
Because I worked so hard at that 9-5 job, and saved up money so I’d earned the privilege of travel, dammit!↩
Because I’ve been writing since I was old enough to know how to put a sentence together, which was around five or six.↩
I don’t know if you’ve ever had this feeling, but it’s that moment when you realize that your name was last on the accepted list. But this is more about framing I guess. After all, I was on the list, right?↩