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.
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.
* 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!)