Tuesday, April 3, 2018

High Expectations

Raise your hand if you hold yourself up to ridiculously high expectations. Like impossible-to-reach-but-you'll-die-trying expectations.

*raises hand*

*sees all of your hands raised too*

Seriously, I see you. I am you. Ego wants me to say I'm probably worse than you are, but I'm working on that. ;)

Perfection is the enemy of progress. When we fail to be perfect at something, we end up failing to try at all in the future. And that hasn't been sitting right with me. I did this for the first two months of this year: knowing I couldn't manage to meet my high standards and, therefore, not trying at all. Now, I have nothing to show for that time. Not even small progress that could have added up to something big later on. All because I knew I couldn't sit down and bang out my word target each day.

So I'm all too familiar with it at the moment. Month three went better, but it wasn't by luck or coincidence. It was by switching my attitude, getting to work, and dropping the hunt for perfection.

I had huge plans for this year. I started making these grand goals back in October, when my life was a little simpler than it is now. Then we made plans for Stepson to come live with us for this semester of school and my plans needed to change. 

But I didn't change them.

I thought, He'll be at school for seven hours a day. That's plenty of time to write two books a month, publish two journals a month, perform all of the marketing tasks, social media, newsletters, etc. of having a full-time author career with three pen names, AND handle being a brand-new full-time stepmom of a teenager while still trying to be a great wife and friend and family member! 

Clearly, I thought wrong.

Sure, it probably is enough time to do all of those things - if I base my productivity on my best day. Which is what I, the extreme perfectionist and holder of only the highest expectations for myself, do. I know that, if I produced 8,000 words today, I should eventually get better and be able to write 10,000 a day. And do everything else it takes to one day be a super successful author (see my "I thought" paragraph above). 

"And that shall be my new daily normal!" I announced to the universe.

And the universe promptly replied, "Mickey, you cray."

Sure, I understand that this level of achievement is normal for a lot of writers. I, however, just am not one of them. I could be - if I were to focus solely on writing day in and day out. If I were to work hard, focus, and tune everything else out.

But let's face it. That's not who I am. It could be, but it's not who I want to be, either.

Did I hear that? I need to repeat that for myself. At least one more time. And then fifty more.

That's not who I want to be.

I don't want to be just an author. Especially not one who slaves away at the keyboard, spending all of her "free time" (meaning time when Stepson is at school) writing, marketing, social-media-ing and newslettering, attempting to run successful Amazon and Facebook ads, editing her work, and learning more about her craft and then spending all of her "extra time" (meaning that time after dinner when Stepson is playing video games but Husband is home and I'd like to spend time with him) doing more of all of those things because the day and the work are never done.

That's where this was leading. I could see it in my own eyes when I dared to look at myself in the mirror. 

The scary thing is that I was okay with that. I have stories to tell, books to write, and money to earn, dammit. I might as well spend every waking minute working on it.

But I have a million other things I want to do too. 

I want to blog about food. I want to blog about life. I want to publish journals and cookbooks and other secret projects I'm working on. I want to be an amazing wife who keeps the house in working order. I want to test new recipes and bake whenever the mood strikes. I want to have fun with Stepson and snuggle my dogs. I want to create printables (new one coming on #freebiefriday) that'll make other people's lives easier, more organized, and more enjoyable. I want to exercise, be healthy, go for hikes, and treat my body like the amazing gift it is. I want to do all of these things and more.

In the past month, I've learned something about myself that's so invaluable. Something that explains why I'm not the writer my perfectionism wanted me to be. Honestly, I can't understand how I didn't see it sooner.

I don't want to be just one thing. I can't spend all of my energy on growing only one part of my life. And that's okay.

When I do that, I get nowhere. Actually, from experience I can tell you I get somewhere for a little while only to burn out in a spectacular crash of fire and explosions and then start to detest the very thing I loved so much to begin with. So why do we spend so much time trying to be so perfect?

Because some of us hold ourselves up to such high standards. We feel we have to be perfect in our endeavors - otherwise it's not even worth doing. Which means we focus in on them so much so we're the absolute best. Then it's embarrassing when we're not perfect and we don't do everything right, isn't it? So it becomes much easier to not try and, thus, not fail than it is to try and perhaps not hit the mark. It's a way to save face.

And this is how we get to the point I was at at the end of February: with nothing to show for months of time even though I wanted to do something.

So I switched tactics and gave myself permission to suck as long as I was trying.

We have to know what we want to do. Then we have to go after it with everything we have. But it has to be the right thing (or thingS) for it to work. And we can't ignore those feelings of this probably isn't right any longer.

So perfection is no longer an option for me. And I'm okay with it. Because there are so many other things I want to do with my life that being perfect at one thing isn't that important anymore. So what if I don't write 24 books a year? I may not make as much money as other people do, but do I need to in the first place? So what if I don't offer the best printables? I don't need everyone to love what I do - just enough. And you know what else I can do? Take feedback and make changes so I am finding the people who love my books, my printables, my journals. I won't please everyone, but I'll please no one if I don't give what I do have to offer. And I'm definitely here to help people. That much I know.

I have a lot to offer, so I'll work a little each day on all the things that'll help me help people while making an income at some point. I'll work on building my empire brick by damn brick. Slowly but surely so I don't burn out. So I can stoke the flames to burn brighter than ever.

Which means I may not be the best at something I enjoy doing. But I don't need to be.

Because I'm already the best at being me. And that's more than enough.

PS - One of the many things I'm working on for my empire is the journals this whole site is about. A brand-new journal released yesterday. It's the Bloggers Edition. Check that out right here if you'd like! And see all of my journals on this page. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you. <3


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