Rejection. Burnout. Depression. Intimidation. Inferiority. Doubt. Apathy. Inadequacy. Fear. Failure. How many of these fun rides have you been on? At times it seems as if whenever we’re trying to accomplish something worthwhile, we get hit with one of these. Or all ten. And then come the voices . . .
“I was never meant to do this.”
“I’m just not good enough. I’ll never be good enough.”
“There’s too much competition.”
“Who even cares anyway?”
“What was I thinking??”
If we listen to these voices long enough, the only realistic option seems to be to drink the kool-aid and quit.
So – how do we overcome the demons that haunt our attempts to do that thing we were born to do? We’ve heard it all; that’s what makes it so hard. None of what we’ve heard really helps us get back on that horse and drive.
- “Thomas Edison failed ninety million times!” (How does that help me?)
- “Einstein couldn’t count simple change – and he overcame!” (Yeah, and he had an IQ of 250.)
- “You were born for this!” (Apparently so were 20 million other people.)
- “Winners never quit and quitters never win!” (Tell it to smokers.)
- “Just do it!” (I’m trying to do it!)
- “Trying is just an excuse not to do!” (I’m confused. Don’t try?)
- “What would Jesus do?” (A miracle?)
So – what really will help? What are the magic words that can banish rejection, inadequacy, depression and all their minions? I don’t have any idea. But I can tell you what you can do. And it’s not call up all your girls/buddies and blow up the town or call in sick for a week on a quick trip to the Bahamas or go into massive debt with shopping therapy. No. Here’s what works: stop and do something that will accomplish a goal quickly, something you’ll feel good about when it’s done, something that, whenever you look at it, will make you feel competent.
Recently, I experienced a less-than-encouraging response to something I’d written – and had spent an inordinate amount of time writing – and candidly, I was very discouraged. So after an appropriate period of mourning, I looked around the house and realized that the magic Home Improvement fairy hadn’t visited while I’d been busy at the keyboard tuning everything else out. It dawned on me that the pine tree branches hanging down way too low over the driveway weren’t going to spring up out of the way with snow piled on top of them. I also had the profound revelation that my snow plow guy and his truck might not appreciate that. At all. So I found a small electric saw, a step ladder and got up into that tree and began to cut wood. When I was finished, the tree looked great and I knew the plow guy would probably charge me less. But here’s the key thing: I felt better. And just maybe I could take another shot at writing. After all, if I can trim some branches from a tree, I can certainly write, right?
Perhaps for you it’s to clean out that closet that no one’s ventured into for a quarter century or cook a nice dinner for your family or clean up your computer files or take authority over the lawn. Whatever it is, give yourself a visual that will get your head out of the fog of depression and remind you of how capable you are.
Sometimes we just need a re-set. We need to get away from the disappointment of failed expectations and experience the success of doing something that proves we’re capable of accomplishment. Remember – oddly enough, that that validation will come as a result of work, not play. Playing at a time like that doesn’t really accomplish anything productive and so can end up just making us feel like procrastinators. And that’s not going to help. So – if you want to feel better about yourself, grab the mop or the mower and get to work.
I can’t explain it – it just works.