I Am A Failure. So What.

Fear is a powerful drug.

 

Not only is it an effective marketing tool for a haunted house, it also keeps people from losing weight, writing the next great novel, and achieving their dreams. Anyone who tells people to utilize fear in order to gain success should receive a sound kick in the posterior. The fear is not of success, but in many cases, of failure; constantly applying a “worst-case scenario” to our visions of the future until any outcome visualized is a negative one. And fear and failure are effective drugs; prohibiting people from walking on the path of success, and dooming them to a roundabout trail of sameness. It completely overwhelms people.

 

 

And I’ve been fearing overcoming fear for over a year now. Quite the tongue-twister, but true. I’ve been fearing making a full commitment to my business because I fear failure. I’ve heard great pep talks, read inspiring articles; heck, I’ve watched inspiring stories on Oprah’s YouTube channel to get myself psyched for success! But fear and failure keep knocking on my door, overwhelming me with negativity: “you’ll never make it. You will fail, won’t be able to pay your bills, and will have to admit defeat and go back to your 9-5 job.” But as trash-talking as they are, I recently came across a revelatory remark; one that makes me more excited than ever about “starting over again” with my business. Here’s that powerful statement:

 

So what. What’s the worst that can happen.

 

Now, granted, this doesn’t work quite as well when you pour millions of dollars into a business that fails a year later, but it does work when you are afraid of taking that first step into building your own life for yourself. Taking that first step into learning something new, taking in a new experience, or setting up your own business. Every trip, every small slip up should be accompanied by an admission that it didn’t work, a shrug of the shoulders, and a “so what. I’ll move on, and learn from this.” I’ve had to learn this from three failed blogs and as many failed podcasts!

 

 

Why did they fail? Procrastination, fear, and lack of focus. Fear can be taken care of by accepting what happened not as a failure, but as a building block forward, and procrastination can be taken care of by attacking your time with a schedule (see the previous post here for more deets), but what about focus?

 

When you fear failure, you dive into sameness.

 

My lack of focus is a result of fear. When you fear failure, you dive into sameness. And when you are continually doing the same things, day in and day out, you develop habits. My “same bad habits” involve mindlessly scrolling around online; social media and random articles fuel my time-wasting “stress browsing”; and I lose focus (and time) in the process.

 

So how do I regain focus? The moments I shake off the mindless internet use, my mind begins to hum and my mental browser opens at least 10 tabs (raise your hands if this is true… I thought so.). Its funny how shaking off one lack of focus can lead to another, but there is a way to beat it. I’ve decided to stick to a 10-minute a day meditation practice, centered around breathing and calm. Usually, I try to pick a quiet space in my apartment, slip on my noise-cancelling headphones and start some calming background music. However, my headphones were recently stolen (that’s what I get for picking up that salted caramel mocha from the counter at Starbucks), so I’ve had to resort to earbuds turned up to loud. Not as effective, but good enough.

 

Trying to regain focus by quieting your mind and clearing the circuits helps me to win at overcoming fear, failure, and lack of focus. How will it help you?

 

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7

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The Cemetery Monologues

I was meditating in a cemetery.

 

Before you start getting on my case about finding other quiet places to ply my practice, hear me out. I was meditating in the Valley of the Temples, a cemetery and group of different houses of worship. The valley is known for the Byodo-In Temple; the largest Buddhist temple in the state of Hawaii and a popular attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike. And that’s where I found myself with my roommate: walking around the serene surroundings and taking in the sights.

 

Behind the temple is a small alcove with an awning and offering area, where worshippers come to offer prayer flags and flowers. Its a quiet spot, and I found myself drawn to the area. No one was around and the stillness so peaceful, I decided to silence my phone, put the DLSR away, and start a small meditation session. And it couldn’t have been at a better time. The chatter in my head was so deafening, I was unable to really focus on the beauty of the moment and the peacefulness of the surroundings. My mind was asking “why did I move here” and “why did I give up so much”, and I didn’t have the answer. What was my “why”?

 

I had just moved to the islands a mere two days before in a mood of what I like to call “daring stupidity” (daring,yes; stupid… time will tell). I had left my comfortable job and life in Wisconsin to start something different and build my life as a writer and freelancer (shameless self-promotion here: I’m open for clients!); selling or giving away most of my possessions, leaving a good-paying supervisory position to be demoted within the same company so I can at least keep a paycheck coming in, and giving up a nice apartment (no high-rise Taj Mahal, but it was peaceful) to live on an air mattress in Hawaii’s notoriously high-priced apartments. Why was I doing all this? Why was I there? And why were my legs falling asleep on the bench?

 

Note to self: sit more comfortably during a session. As for the answers to all the other questions, a little introspection was in order.

 

I crave freedom. Its not the “cool thing” to be a freelancer and digital nomad in the world I grew up in; in fact, far from it. My upbringing was centered around the classic 1950s vision of suburban Americana: graduate from high school (or, if you want to be all high-falutin’, college), marry the sweetheart, buy the suburban home, get the 9-5, and come home to the evening paper and your dinner jacket.

 

The 9-5 wasn’t just a way of life, it was the only life.

 

And I wasn’t having any of it. I wanted the freedom to choose my work: from when I worked, to how I worked, to who I worked for, and how much I got paid. I wanted the freedom to be me, whatever that may be. As humans, we are always evolving; constantly vying for the higher plane of ourselves.And while some people find their evolution inside a retail store, factory line, or office cubicle, I find my evolution in front of my laptop.

 

Maybe the meditation at the temple helped the post-move jitters, maybe it provided some important introspection into my “why” and my purpose, and maybe, just maybe, it gave me a path. I got up from the pavilion, and started walking back to our rental car. And the constant chatter of “why?” in my head was replaced with one word.

 

Clarity.

 

 

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1 (and 2)