Fear of Criticism Was Keeping Me from Working on My Goals

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Photo by Skyla Design on Unsplash

The phrase, “What people think of you is none of your business” was confusing when I first heard it as a kid. But I’ve since realized it means that people are going to have whatever opinions of you that they have, and you can’t stop them.

No matter what I do, I cannot control how people perceive me.

I spend a lot of energy making sure I don’t step on toes, upset people, or hurt people’s feelings. I want people to feel welcome and loved around me. In the past, this has been to my own detriment. I’d light myself on fire to keep someone else warm.

I make compassion a regular habit but I am also getting comfortable taking up some more space. My level of compassion has not changed, except that it now includes myself.

Perception is reality

Everything has to filter through your own issues before you can process it.

I had a boss who used to say, “Perception is reality.” I prefer to think that perception is a filter.

Everything that every person does or says is perceived uniquely by everyone around them. Because everything that every person does or says has to filter through your own issues before you can process it.

An example: Age gaps in relationships. They make me extremely uncomfortable. My abuser was 40 when he met and groomed me to be his victim at 23. Age gaps of ten or more years make me feel sick to my stomach, but it doesn’t mean I think every couple with an age gap is experiencing an abuse dynamic. That’s my experience, my discomfort, my issue. And it’s my boundary to enforce if I don’t want to be around couples with a big age gap because it’s a trauma trigger.

It doesn’t mean I hate you. It doesn’t mean I have to get over it any faster for your benefit, either.

Another example: Weight loss. I can’t deal with people’s before and after photos because they send me back to the mental place I was in when I was deep in my eating disorder. Do I think everyone who has lost weight has an eating disorder? No. Do I think they’re fatphobic? Yes, actually, but that’s a post for another time.

I have unfollowed social media accounts that focus on weight loss or diet culture. It doesn’t mean I hate you.

Fear of criticism

She draws things out of me that I’m too afraid to say without careful distillation into something palatable.

It’s been almost two years since I left an abusive marriage, and I have met myself all over again. I’m discovering things I didn’t know I liked to do, because I never tried. I have a pretty active social life. I’m investing in professional services to make myself a better writer. I’m putting myself out there and promoting my work.

And it’s terrifying.

I have a professional coach whose favorite refrain is “What else?” I tell her how I’m feeling about something, she replies, “Okay, what else? What’s behind that? What’s the thought?”

Like the scene in Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams forces Ethan Hawke into reciting a sudden poem, she draws things out of me that I’m too afraid to say without careful distillation into something palatable.

Last night I said to her, “I’m afraid if I get too big people will criticize me.”

So, it’s fear. I procrastinate, I hedge my bets, I don’t push far enough — because I am afraid to tip the scales in any one direction. I’m afraid to invite criticism.

In the same call, I laughed about a one star review someone left about my book. He hadn’t even read it and the review is nonsensical. I told her I wanted to frame it.

It’s so clear that the one star review is from someone who the book isn’t for. He’s not someone I am trying to reach.

A friend recently pointed out that there were some parts of my book where they thought I didn’t go far enough. I completely agree. I was over-concerned with being agreeable to every reader. A 2.0 version would have a lot of updates and would be bigger, longer, and a lot more divisive. It would invite criticism, but it would also invite more fervent support.

And that’s what I was missing.

I can’t stay quiet anymore

I need to be me so loudly that it turns the wrong people away and draws the right people closer.

I keep bumping into the fact that I try to smooth my edges to appeal to the masses. I censor myself because I’m too afraid of someone disagreeing with me. In conflict with a loved one, I soften my own pain so it doesn’t upset them.

I don’t have to be palatable. I don’t have to be perfectly portioned. I don’t have to be mass produceable.

I need to be me so loudly that it turns the wrong people away and draws the right people closer. And it’s going to suck, at first.

I’ve already lost friends for reasons I don’t understand. I regularly invite feedback and am willing to sit in the discomfort of talking through an issue, so the fact that people who were once close friends have simply written me off is hurtful, but it’s honestly none of my business. If they wanted me to make something right, they’d invite me to do so.

Just like I don’t hate the people I’ve had to take distance from, they probably don’t hate me either. Their perception of me is getting filtered through what they’ve been through and what they’re going through. And that’s okay, even though it stings.

Like my one-star reviewer, some people aren’t going to be the people I’m here to reach. But by turning myself up to 11 and not trying to be everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll attract the people I’m actually here to connect with.

I’m not for everyone, and not everyone is excited for me to change and grow into this new version of myself.

And it’s honestly none of my business.

Ready to make a change in your own life?

I’m taking one on one coach clients this year and I have a few spots open in February. Send in a coach inquiry and we’ll decide the best way for us to work together on a ninety day goal!

 

Today is Day One

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If you could not fail

What would you do if you had the time, money, and energy to do it? If you knew you could not fail?

  • Learn a new skill?
  • Spend more time with your kids?
  • Take a family vacation?
  • Take a vacation by yourself or with your spouse?
  • Write a book?
  • Lose 50 pounds?
  • Cut your hair really crazy?
  • Plant a garden?
  • Start a business?
  • Find the love of your life?
  • Have a baby (see above)?
  • Follow a dream?

What the hell is stopping you? Probably some of this:

  • Work
  • Debt
  • Finances
  • Lack of support from family & friends
  • Being too busy
  • Being tired or stressed out
  • Not believing in yourself
  • The timing is wrong
  • Not knowing how

I am here to tell you that none of that matters. I have learned new skills, lost 30 pounds, started writing a book, and started a business in the past year, despite having bills to pay, little to no energy some days, working unpredictable long hours at a job, and the little voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough.

Anything that is important to you means you make the time for it in your life. Anything that isn’t a true priority means you will find an excuse to explain why you can’t do it. All those promises of “some day” and “tomorrow” are empty promises (unless you legitimately have a planned out timeline and are taking steps to achieve those goals).

Waiting for Monday

So many people start working on new goals on a Monday. Or the first of the month. Or the first of the year.

So you’re telling me that you can only start improving your life a minimum of once and a maximum of 52 times per year? No. Not good enough. Stop waiting for Monday. TODAY is day one. I don’t care if it’s a Tuesday, or the 29th of the month, or if it’s January 5th. Start working on your dream TODAY.

My fitness journey

I ordered a fitness program online in June 2014. It arrived on a Thursday. I started that day. On a Thursday! I made Thursday “Day one” of this journey. I went into it knowing that with exercise and nutrition as a daily habit, I would thank myself in three months. I made two goals with the program: finish it, and lose 15 lbs. I did finish the 60 day program and went on to complete 4 more (ranging from 21 to 90 days in length) and am working on my 5th exercise program.

This is what works for me.

Maybe your fitness journey is deciding to get a gym membership, or do free workouts on YouTube, or go jogging, or subscribe to a fitness On Demand program. The important thing to remember is that small steps create big changes over time. If losing 50 pounds is important to you, you need to make it happen. One pound at a time. One workout at a time. One glass of water, serving of vegetables, or “no thanks” to a cookie at a time.

There’s never any time

Another trap on your way to making your dreams happen is the belief that you don’t have time. Here is a secret: The most successful people in the world have the exact same 24 hours that you have. What are you doing differently?

My business journey

I started freelance writing in December 2011 and have written for the same client since then. I had long been considering looking for a full time copywriting position at a marketing company for a while when it occurred to me that I could be my own boss and write for the clients I wanted to write for. With some technical support (and a ton of encouragement) from my boyfriend, I recently launched a business as a freelancer, working exclusively with companies that make the world a better place. Companies and business owners like organic farmers, local restaurant owners, organizations that support women and children, birth and maternity care professionals like midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants, and people who create all-natural products for homes and bodies.

It made sense. I am extremely passionate about these types of organizations and small businesses, and I am extremely passionate about content marketing and writing. It was clear what I had to do. But how on Earth could I start my own business while working full time (with a 1.5 hour round trip commute each day) and balancing another part time job on the side, all while trying to actually spend time with my friends and family? Building a business while working full time is HARD.

I had to find the time. You have to find the time. If this is your stumbling block and you don’t have the time for your dream, keep a journal for one week and track your time. Here are some places you might find it again:

  • In the morning before people get up (yes, you will need to get up early, it will be worth it)
  • At night after people go to sleep (go kiss your family goodnight and then get to work)
  • On your lunch break at your full time job (if you eat in 15 minutes, that’s 45 minutes for your dream)
  • On your commute (dictate notes or listen to professional development books or podcasts)
  • On the weekends (the harder you hustle now, the sooner you will have the weekends back)
  • When everyone else is watching television (I know, Arrow is really captivating, but this is your LIFE)
  • Whenever you find yourself on Facebook or Twitter (put down the phone, go work)
  • When you would normally be attending a club, social hour, or other event that is not as important as your goal (stay in touch with friends but be firm in your priorities)

Following your dreams is not about finding time. You only have 24 hours. You know where they are. You have to decide what you put into them. Remember that sleeping is important though.

I can’t afford that

Money trouble preventing you from achieving your dreams? Get your finances under control. If you have debts, pay them off. If you think you need a business loan, reconsider and learn to do it without debt. If you can’t afford a nice vacation, find your money in the same way you found your time: pay attention to where it goes.

Go to your online banking information and pull the last month of records. Make a list of all your spending – what did you spend on groceries? Entertainment? Household purchases? Transportation? Impulse buys? Toys? Gadgets? Snacks? Bills? Debt payments?

Today is the day you get a grip on your finances and set some realistic goals. How much debt do you have? Make a plan to pay it off – aggressively. Good things come to those who hustle! You are not going to become a millionaire or afford that Cancun trip by making minimum payments. And for the love of all that is holy, stop digging the hole. Cut up your cards and make a commitment to never take on more debt. Make a written budget for your household each month and stick to it! YOU are the boss of your money, not the other way around.

Manifesting what you desire

This is where it gets a little crazy, kids. You can get whatever you desire, want, or need from the universe simply through believing it can be done. Sounds insane, right?

My sister had a couple of friends she had loaned some money to, and they never paid her back. The total was about $300. She wasn’t angry about it but she did express that she wished she had that money to save up for her moving expenses. Over the next two nights at her serving job, she made crazy tips and was within a few dollars of the amount of the loan. She put that “$300” energy into the world and let it go, and it came back to her.

My friend and mentor Shari, who quit her full time job with barely a safety net so that she could achieve her dream of opening a wine store, has been flying through her project by the seat of her pants, never knowing where the next piece of the puzzle was going to fit in but somehow managing to get it all taken care of. She asked the universe for a $5000 investment and between her partner’s contribution and a very low interest personal loan from a friend she had that $5000 to complete the project within a week. (I know, debt bad, but this is how it worked out for her). She also got her permits put through their channels with pretty unprecedented turnaround times.

I had a big mental road block to getting down to business in my new freelance career and I put my finger on it. There was no space for me to work in the house. I was working on my couch, usually with the tv on in the background. I couldn’t focus. I needed a desk. I knew I could find an awesome desk for under fifty bucks on Craigslist, so I just scrolled the postings each day and kept an eye out. Suddenly I saw it. A beautiful hand-painted PURPLE desk. PURPLE!!! It was perfect for me. It was listed at $40 but they came down to $30 to get it out of their apartment before they moved. It’s all set up in our home office now and I have been putting crazy time into the business since then, waking up early to work and also working after dinner instead of watching tv all night.

The formula for manifesting is simple and hard at the same time:

decide what you want + tell the universe – worry

Yes, you have to let it go and quit worrying about it. The universe hates being pestered. You must take action (such as checking Craigslist for the desk I wanted), but to continually say every day “I WISH I COULD FIND A DESK” would be counter-productive. I would be too focused on not having the desk that I wouldn’t be able to manifest it into my life.

Alright, enough woo-woo for today. Let me know in the comments if this topic would interest you to learn more about, I would be happy to share more!

It’s not the right time

You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Go for it!

Seriously though, I can relate to this one especially when it comes to having a baby. It seems a small miracle to be under 30 and not have started a family, but I have a lot I want to get done first. It really isn’t the right time. When I say this to my grandbaby-crazy father, he tells me there is never a right time to have a baby.

That may be true, but there can be a less not-right time and a more not-right time… right?

It’s not the right time for us because I want to have the option to stay home with the baby which I cannot do without either my business replacing my full-time income or my partner getting a pretty awesome paying job. Also, we have too much debt right now (in my opinion). Hence the $50,000 payoff plan for 2015. If we can pay all of that off, we will be down to my big student loan and our baseline operating expenses would be well able to take the hit of mama staying home with the baby, which is a huge priority for me.

I know it’s not the right time for us right now because we are prioritizing the future payoff over the desire to have a baby sooner.

But you, right there, yeah. You. Quit makin’ excuses. I wanna see you hustle. Make today DAY ONE.

Pick a topic

I talked about a lot of topics this week, and I want to go deeper and tell you guys more. Which of these things would you like to hear about next week? Let me know and let’s talk about it.