I’m Having Difficulty…

All too often, I really don’t pay attention to the words I use when I speak to myself.   The language I use isn’t the kindest or the most encouraging.  I say things like “shame on me” and “I can’t”.  The shame on me is pretty harsh and brings down judgment, regret and well, shame.  I’ve been working on this as I used to say it with frequency, not even registering what I was telling myself.  Shame on me.  Wow.  Slips in before you know it.

Then there’s the insidious “I can’t”.  Boy oh boy does that one creep in faster than a speeding bullet.  It’s not always verbalized but it’s there nonetheless.  It’s there when I fall short of a goal and don’t keep trying to meet it.  It’s there when I think it’s too cold/hot outside to work out.  It’s there when I don’t get hired for a VO or On Camera gig and I rationalize with I can’t be the voice, or the image they have in their mind.  It’s there more than I realize.  And I’m not one to give up easily on things.  Remember I’m the queen of “me do it”.  But it still exists in my vernacular anyway.  Saying “I can’t” is saying there’s absolutely no way to make something happen.  And there’s always a way to work around a problem or figure out a solution.

I’m not asking for superhuman efforts or perfection of myself.  What I’m asking for is a rethinking of the language I use to talk to myself.  Instead of saying “I can’t” I’m going to try to start saying “I’m having difficulty”.  It may be semantics but I think the way we talk to ourselves and to others has a far greater impact than I’ve realized in the past.  And it’s not one big change that will make a big difference but the thousands of little changes I make in my everydayness that will help me achieve my goals.

Putting It All Together

We’ve all done it.  Attended a conference, workshop or diet farm where we learned oodles of great tips and skills to help us get to the next level in whatever we are trying to achieve.  Our bags are stuffed with great ideas we have every intention of implementing the moment we arrive home.  This is a new beginning by golly and we’re going to just soar with all we’ve learned.  Then our feet cross the threshold of our homes and all that great knowledge, drive and determination go poof! right out of our noggin.  And before we know it, 4 months have passed, you’re cleaning out your office and what’s this?  Oh, it’s that stuff from that thing I went to back when.  What was it I was going to do with all that stuff?  I’ll just push it aside for a while longer.

This time, I’m really going to try to have a different outcome.  I’m going to put together a schedule for myself and make every attempt to stick to it.  It will take self discipline and determination and I know I may fall off the wagon but I’ll really try to get back on track.  Wish me luck!

Silly Obstacles

I stopped writing for a while.  I couldn’t figure out why as I really enjoyed doing it.  And for the most part I appreciated the comments and the feedback I received from the 3 people that read my posts and commented.  But for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to continue with the endeavor.  And it was really bugging me that I couldn’t pinpoint the cause or the event that precipitated my ceasing to put fingers to keys (the modern day version of pen to paper I guess!).  I let it sit for a really long time and didn’t do anything about it.  I didn’t even think about the issue, or so I thought.  It was never far from my brain.  I’d ruled out having nothing to say because honey I ALWAYS have something to say.  Just ask my closest friends and family.  I’m sure they’d admit under their breath and out of my hearing that me having nothing to say would be a refreshing change of pace.  But there you have it, I’m a talker.  And a writer.

So what was with this aversion all of the sudden?  After cogitating (see Willie Shakespeare, I can make up words too!) on it for several weeks, ok months I know, I think I may have figured it out.  And it’s a situation that isn’t going to go away, especially if I have the kind of career I want to have going forward.  The details of the issue aren’t important.  What is key here is realizing I was letting someone stop me from expressing myself fully.  That’s an old behavior I thought I’d put on the shelf long ago.  Apparently not.  I was surprised it reared back up but there you have it.  It’s back and needs to be dealt with.  And the pen needs to be put to paper once again.

A Well Deserved Kick in the Rear

Seth Godin’s blog is something I read every day and have mentioned to here several times.  I have to say this guy’s writing is so on the mark.  He makes very relevant points more often than not and puts out an incredibly consistent amount of good content.  The consistent part is what I truly admire.

Today’s post was another home run.  He talks about the world’s worst boss.  And he’s telling me to point the finger right back at myself.  When I did, I didn’t like what I saw.  After reviewing my work this past week, I think I would have fired me, or at least put me on probation.  My organization, time management, productivity and employee (me) development was mediocre at best.  The only thing I have going for me is the amount of hours I put in.  But many of those hours were spent cruising websites and tracking down obscure info that really couldn’t be mistaken for revenue producing activity.  When I was managing, I would look very hard at my employees when they were goofing off for long periods of time.  Sure there were times that we were slower than molasses and this helped balance the crazier-than-a-loon’s-nest times.  And I am not inhuman enough to recognize the need to unwind a bit after an intense amount of activity.

But, I can honestly say I haven’t had that insane amount of activity lately, certainly not on a consistent basis.  I haven’t really earned the right to goof off as much as I’ve been allowing myself to.  My lack of planning my day has left me to flit from activity to activity in a very unfocused way with the results being haphazard at best.  To be fair, I have launched a major project that has taken much of my time and attention these past few weeks.  I’m starring in and co-producing a web series called Mags N Mel.  It’s my first time producing anything and it’s been overwhelming with all the details to take care of.  But we are only shooting 1 day a week over several weeks which is a very manageable shoot schedule.  Although I’m not getting paid (cheap producers!), this is an important project in that it has made me eligible to join the Screen Actor’s Union.

What I haven’t been focusing on are projects and auditions that will directly result in generating revenue.  And I knew what I was doing.  I wasn’t being honest with myself and calling a spade a spade.

So now that I know what I’m doing, the real key is to not continue the behavior.  They say the first step to recovery is to recognize the bad behavior.  The bigger second step is to not repeat the behavior expecting a different result.  That’s the difficult part.  First I have to get this big boot out of my rear though.

Parking lots

I ran across a quote the other day, which really resonated with me.  The author Harriet Mears said, “It’s difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving.”  It made me think about how I was approaching my work and how diligent I’d been.  I have to admit I wasn’t the most disciplined in my undertakings and if I was being kind to myself, had to also admit I had much room for improvement.  So I started asking at the end of each day, “what have to done today to earn money?”  At first I didn’t use the word money, but instead said, “…earn something”.   But then I realized this wasn’t specific enough.  If I wasn’t more specific I could earn respect or points or karma.  All worthy in-and-of-themselves.  But the yardstick we often measure our success by is a financial one and since the bank does like to have its mortgage paid on time with a check that will clear, this is the yardstick I am using for the moment.

A funny thing started happening.  I goofed off less, wasted less time reading email or online following bunny trails going nowhere or on message boards doing the virtual water cooler thingy.  I started holding myself more accountable.  I have an accountability person I report to weekly but sometimes I view this in a screwy way.  Like my friend, who is so kind to be there for me, is a parent or a teacher whom I have to report to.  And I’ve really never been good with those in authority.  I have the unsatifactories on the report cards to prove it.  Anywho, because I shifted the responsibility to someone else, I wasn’t holding myself accountable.  I wasn’t buying into my own progress and eventual success.  Now how screwy is that?  But by simply asking myself a simple 8 word question, I got my a—-er, car, out of park and started moving forward.  And I started making some progress.  It’s miniscule at the moment, but the ground is starting to feel a bit more solid underneath.

The back of the book

My nature is not one of patience.  I walk fast, process multiple things quickly, try to stretch my time to get just one more thing squeezed in.  These are all valuable skills when applied in appropriate manners and at appropriate times.  Quick evaluations on the lengths of the lines at the Costco can get you on your way to your next errand.  However these can also work against you when misused or not appropriate.  Or when the goal is to experience something fully, not just check it off your list.  When I am engrossed in a book for pleasure and the story is fantastic, the tension just keeps building beyond endurance, it is a battle of the wills to not look at the back of the book and see how it will all end.  It takes every ounce of self discipline I possess, knowing I have the answer in my hands, to not cheat myself of the full experience that book is offering me with the unfolding of the story.

I suffer from this in my daily life as well, particularly now when everything is changing faster than I can process and my level of confidence is waning.  I want assurances that the back of the book that is my life will come out just peachy, all will be well.  I don’t have the answers in my hands as I do when I am reading so I can’t possibly look, nonetheless, I want to know the outcome.  The bigger message I am missing in all this wanting, is I am missing out on the full experience that my life is offering me.  And experiencing the experience is what this life is all about, not the outcome.  Finding the courage to let go of the need to know what lies at the back of the book is the bigger battle of the wills.