Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Taking Action (or Not...)

Today, I found a great blog that really resonated with me. It’s called The Unlost, and the writer, Therese Schwenkler, is out there asking questions like, “What should I do with my life?” and “When will I ever be happy?” and my favorite, “Who the heck am I?!” It feels like it’s written just for me.* (Except that I think I’m a little older than her target audience – does a 34-year-old count as a “young person”?)

Therese’s quest for knowledge, purpose, passion and living true to who she is really speak to me and reassure me that I’m not alone in my searching for those same things.

But blogs like hers also make me wonder…what am I waiting for?!

Therese has just quit her job – her safe, comfortable, “normal” corporate job (does any of this sound familiar??) – to travel across the country and spread her message, meet new people, and pursue what is now her passion. From major life decisions like this to her everyday writing, everything she does seems infused with energy and action.

So I'm forced to contemplate why I find it so hard to get off my ass and actually DO the things I know I want/need to do. What is keeping me from taking action? I have all these great ideas, but seem no closer to any of them than I was 6 months ago! I’ve narrowed the reasons for my inaction down to a few things:

1.      Fear of being wrong.
I don’t want to take a step unless I know it’s the “right” one – God forbid I should look foolish or make a (gasp!) mistake – so I end up taking no steps at all. Typical perfectionistic tendency.

2.      An insatiable need for information.
Going hand-in-hand with not wanting to be wrong is the idea that doing copious amounts of reading, pondering, research and self-reflection will somehow lead me to the “right” next step. So I wile my time away doing all the prep work – prep work for action that I never take.

3.      Lack of self-confidence.
It’s so easy to admire people for being “fearless,” who embrace life and jump into new adventures – I’m always in awe of their self-assuredness. But something I’m coming to realize is, a lot of them AREN’T self-assured – they’re just as scared, nervous, and confused as I am. The difference is, they don’t let that stop them from taking action.  

4.      Laziness.
Ok, this one is harsh, but true. Making major life changes, discovering who you are, pursuing goals – this stuff may be fun and exhilarating, but it’s also hard work! And sometimes, I admit, I just want to sit on the couch and relax for the few minutes I have left at the end of the day, rather than try to dredge up the energy to jump into the whole life-changing thing.

So, ultimately, what’s the point of this post? Well, frankly, I think I needed to call myself out on this stuff. Because, let’s be honest, it’s all RIDICULOUS.

Inaction is a surefire way to remain, at best, no happier than I am now, and at worst, a hell of a lot unhappier.

And taking action isn’t actually as hard as I always think it will be – in fact, the times I’ve been most successful in taking action have been when I’ve done it without a lot of forethought, moving quickly enough that I can’t stop myself and spend time worrying about taking a misstep, and basically ignoring what I’m doing until – oops, too late! I’ve actually already taken action while my head was turned the other way.

So this is a stern but loving reminder to myself: You’re being ridiculous! Nothing good comes from inaction. Taking action is NOT as hard as you make it seem. And p.s. you’re not alone.

~ Jenn

* Note: I was already done with this blog, but hadn’t posted it yet, when I read Therese’s article called Save Your Soul From Shoulditis in Twenty-Twelve (which is fantastic, by the way - go read it!), and I nearly fell off my chair at this paragraph:

I was restless. I just knew that there had to be more to life than this— more than coming into work every day, staring at an Excel spreadsheet, and then returning home every night to reruns of Friends. I felt like Belle from Beauty & The Beast, spinning around in the middle of a field and singing at the top of my lungs. “There’s got to be more than this provincial life!”

Remember how I said earlier that if felt like this blog was written just for me? Ok, so it’s not such a coincidence that I, too, constantly think about how there has to be MORE than what I’m doing…or that I go to work every day and stare at Excel spreadsheets. But every night before bed, I unwind by watching Friends re-runs…and most eerie of all, I literally just thought of that song from Beauty and the Beast two days ago – I'm talking that exact phrase from that song. (I remember because I had a whole argument with myself about how the sentiment was exactly what I was feeling, but my life isn’t really “provincial” per se. I’m weird like that.)

So…yeah. I’m a big believer in “signs” and that there are no coincidences in life, so I think this was a call-out to me that I was meant to find this blog today. (Thanks for the confirmation, universe! You rock!)


  1. You know what I love? Your ability for self-reflection, for asking the hard questions. CONGRATS on this, seriously!

    Question: what are the things you feel like you want/need to take action on?

    1. THANKS!! (secretly squealing like a tween girl at a Bieber concert that I got my first blog comment...)

      Oh, the actions...so many things that have just been on my list forever, that I put off for no good reason:

      - reach out to a sound engineer contact to set up a time when I can observe him in a recording session
      - reach out to my church music director about cantoring for him this summer when my church group goes on hiatus
      - get together with another budding musician friend and play/sing together
      - share this blog with people!
      - post regularly
      - sing at an open mic night
      - do informational interviews with people making their living in music
      - anything else to help further my own musical education and growth

      But I have been on a roll this week, thanks to my kicking my own butt with this post! :)
      - reached out to the sound engineer, with a tentative date for next weekend to observe a session
      - made an appointment to stop by and speak with the church music director this weekend
      - shared my blog with a few people (including you!)
      - signed up for an intro to sound engineering workshop for tomorrow

      All in all, not bad!! :) And I think I’m just getting started!

  2. HELLLOOOO!!! I wrote a big long comment last week but it didn't post. Sorry! I LOVE your blog! It is so authentically YOU. You are such a great writer. As I was reading, I was thinking that you should definitely turn this blog into a book someday. Then I kept reading, and saw that you had already brainstormed that idea. SO GREAT!! I think you are awesome all around!! XOXO

    1. Thanks so much, my friend!! It means the world to me that you took the time to read it all - you know brevity in writing is NOT my strong suit! :) Thanks for all your support and love and feedback - especially the "authentically YOU" comment, which makes me really happy. :) XOXO

  3. Sister- You are AMAZING! I am in true awe of your willinness to ask yourelf hard questions....to listen for and accept the answers...and to share your vulnerabilities with others. Heeelllooo? You ARE fearless!! Despite ME being the big sister, I constantly look up to YOU (not because you're taller)and am so very proud to call you mine. You are HONEST and LOVING and DETERMINED and THOUGHTFUL and CRAZY SMART and the list goes on and on and on. I love you!!! -Nicole P.S. Didn't know how to select a profile...=P I know, what are you gonna do with me????

    1. Awww, THANKS, sister!! (I finally managed to get your comments to show up - Blogger had marked them as spam b/c they were anonymous.)

      I am most definitely NOT fearless, I am very FEARFUL...but learning that courage is not the lack of fear, it's taking action in the face of fear. Put another way, "lack of fear isn't courage, it's meantal illness." Someone famous said that. I'll have to find out who. :) LOVE YOU!