During my first semester in college, I made a conscious choice that I would try a whole bunch of things until I found My Thing.
I went ALL IN for this process of finding My Thing: I auditioned for Alive, the Christian a cappella group. I tried out for Flypeople, the student dance group, and the Vassar Repertory Dance Theater, the official dance company on campus.
I didn’t make any of them.
I thought Aula After Hours, a student-run open mic night, sounded fun. I went to a few meetings and volunteered for a few jobs. I didn’t like it, so I stopped going back.
I went to an open ballet class taught by one of the dance faculty. It was clear that the other students were much more advanced, even though the class was advertised as open to all levels. I still remember that, in a room with 30 or 40 dancers, the professor stopped the pianist during warm-up to spend five minutes correcting my turnout. I never went back to that class, although I took several dance classes for credit from different professors.
I’d never tried yoga, so I signed up for a yoga class on Tuesday nights at the gym. I would go to class and then eat dinner by myself at the gym cafe, which I discovered had amazing pizza.
I loved my dorm, so I ran for freshman representative. My campaign platform was: “Vassar College: 70% female. Noyes House Team: 100% male.” And I won.
I LOVED being on the House Team. We planned study breaks and movie nights and parties. We generally would have meetings at 10 PM on a random week night and just goof around. We won House Team of the Year.
Now that I’m an adult, I realized that I take far fewer risks. I’ve settled in to my routine. I have a job, and I know how to be successful at work. I have an exercise routine that I like. I have restaurants that I like to go to and websites I read for news and hobbies I do for fun.
When I do try new things, I dip my toe in the water. If it’s not to my liking, I walk away instead of plunging in. Because here’s the thing: If I sort of try something, and it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal – because I didn’t try that hard anyway.
But if I try really hard, if I go ALL IN and try everything I can think of, if I take every action I know to take, and I still do not succeed, well – then I’ve really failed. Or at least, that’s my fear.
Does this happen to you? Do you sort-of commit to things, and then when they don’t work out, you think, ‘oh well, I didn’t really try. Guess it wasn’t meant to be’ – and you go back to watching Netflix? THIS IS THE THOUGHT THAT’S HOLDING US BACK, MY FRIENDS.
Case in point: I’ve been looking for a literary agent on and off for my novel for a few years now. I would say that in those few years, I’ve actually been ALL IN to the process for about two months total. Because if I go ALL IN for longer, and I keep getting rejected, well – then I’ve really failed. Then maybe I’m not cut out to be a writer after all. But if I just sort of half-ass it, and nothing happens, I’m off the hook.
I’m fed up with this crap. Are you with me? I want to be ALL IN for my life, for God’s sake. So when I fail, I want to fail big – and then keep going.
The permission to fail big and keep going is liberating. Because if I go ALL IN, and fail, I can try again. If I half-ass things and lose steam after one course of action doesn’t pan out perfectly, I’m not invested enough to keep trying.
If you want to change your mindset to give yourself permission to go ALL IN – and to fail – join me and my friend Caroline McGraw for a four-week course, Protect Your Energy. We’re going to talk about taming all those demons that say stuff like, “That’s okay for her – but you could never do that [whatever “that” may be]”; or “Why can’t you ever get anything done?” Those thoughts suck your energy and drain your passion.
If you want to find out more, check out our FREE webinar, How to Be Less Busy Without QUitting Anything. It’s happening next Monday, June 26, at 1:00 PM Eastern. (Can’t attend live? Register anyway and we’ll shoot you the recording.) www.bitly.com/LessBusy
See you there, in the deep end – take the plunge.
June 19, 2017