For years, I struggled to begin my writing journey. I would write something I thought was good in the heat of passion, just to rewrite it again and again and again. My attempt to not settle for mediocre work meant I was not making any progress at all. This desire for my writing, font size, blog theme, color and everything else that (quite frankly) wasn’t relevant at all to be perfect kept me from taking that first step to accomplishing my dream.
Before now, if you asked me, I would proudly say “I am a perfectionist”. And this was basically my excuse for why I fail to make progress in anything. But isn’t that simply self-sabotage hiding under the cloak of perfectionism?
What I learnt from my struggle with perfectionism and self-doubt is quite simple.
You do not have to be perfect to set out to accomplishing your goals.
In fact, you don’t have to be anything. All you need to do is take that first step, as imperfect and as unprepared as you may feel. Holding out for perfection is admirable, but doing so right at the start could lead to self-doubt and lots of second-guessing which is actually more damaging to your self-esteem and confidence than possible failure.
Think of it this way; giving it a shot even though you feel unprepared means you actually tried and have gained some experience, but constantly second-guessing yourself only leads to self-doubt which most often prevents us from even trying. I cannot begin to count the number of opportunities I’ve given up simply because I was too afraid of not meeting ‘imagined’ expectations to even try!
From my experience, self-doubt has killed many more dreams than failure ever will.
So how do we ensure we aren’t stuck in the quagmire of self-sabotage in our desire to awe our audience right at the door?
Embracing Mediocrity: Of course, nobody wants to be mediocre. And it’s perfectly understandable that we push ourselves to produce our best in order to prevent this. Not surprisingly, this same desire to accept only what we consider the best from ourselves often becomes a determent to making any move at all especially when we’re just starting out. You would be amazed at how much courage you can gain simply from accepting the prospect of being somewhere in the middle. This singular philosophy got me started on my goals, and once started I have no intention of staying in the middle!
Avoid being Judgemental: Yes, passion and some feelings are needed for just about anything you sincerely want to accomplish. But make sure to do without them when making your decisions. Most times, we are actually better than we think we are. Or possibly not. Either way, we need to take that first imperfect step first doing our best to be non-judgemental about the quality of our work then work our way to becoming better. Remember that perfection is relative. What seems wonderful to you may not be to the next person and vice versa, so do not let the need for perfection hold you back.
Greatness doesn’t just happen. It is built one little brick at a time. So, do the best you can right now!
For some of us, life can seem like a constant struggle between letting ourselves look bad by saying no, and sacrificing our own happiness and independence with unnecessary commitments. Yet we have to avoid the mental trap of “not wanting to let others down” in order to make progress in our own lives.
In fact, studies have shown that taking on tasks you’ll rather avoid causes you to harbor feelings of resentment that eventually could result in anxiety disorders and depression.
So if you’re like me, and you think it’s easier to “just do it” and avoid a confrontation than to frankly say no – be warned! You’re seriously harming your physical and mental well-being.
I am so bad in fact that if I have to lead a project, I can go so far as doing the tasks of myself and my team mates just to avoid having to police others into doing their parts! And just like that, I have a solid reputation of “getting the job done” even if those responsible choose not to. But how fair is that to myself? And what a self destructive habit to cultivate!
In the end we’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, and each of us is responsible for how their time is spent, not just for a day but for the whole of our lives. It’s not fair to yourself to use your own time (which equates to your life) in taking on the burden of others.
Admittedly, it is important to offer assistance to others when we can, but we must know when to draw the line between helping others and being sucked into their problems. Or worse, becoming the go to person for others to unload their burdens on.
Ask yourself this; How high does my own happiness rank in my life?
Remember that your life and happiness are important too so don’t sacrifice them for the convenience of others!
The only way to undo the habit of indiscriminately saying yes to the demands of others is to gradually learn to say no wisely. So how do you do this?
Firstly, believe in yourself.
Believe in the fact that you deserve to come first in your own life. Believe also in your capabilities and in your value, and that you do not need others to validate your existence or importance. Understand that you are valuable.
Your time is valuable, as are your skills. Don’t sell yourself short by serving others at the expense of your own responsibilities, time, health and happiness. Pleasing others all the time is all well and good but when compared to the cost on your time and wellbeing, it’s not really worth it. Your time is a valuable commodity which you need to pursue your own goals so use it wisely.
Don’t sell yourself short by serving others at the expense of your own responsibilities, time, health and happiness.
Secondly, don’t guilt yourself into believing it’s bad to say no sometimes. It’s not!
When asked to do something you’re not sure of, take your time to evaluate the situation. Keep in mind that once you establish the habit of saying yes always, those around you will begin to feel entitled to your time and will never understand even when you absolutely have to refuse.
So don’t wait for their understanding now, instead choose the responsibilities you take on based on your availability and the cost on your time and on your life. Remember that your life and happiness are important too so do not sacrifice them for the convenience of others!
I am sitting here at my favorite take out place (mostly because it’s so close to my workplace) and thinking of all the things I actually wanted to do last year. How many of those are worth keeping, and how many should I toss?
I remember I wanted to travel. Actually, I want to travel every year and I probably always will. Unfortunately though I rarely do, and didn’t do any in 2021. Of all my expectations, I think this has to be my most regretful. So of course this would be staying for sure in 2022, and I look forward to sharing my travel experience. Hopefully.
But most importantly, I want to share four things I’m doing differently in 2022 from the lessons I learned in 2021.
Maximizing Every Moment: Obviously this is simply to live every moment to the fullest, taking as much pleasure as you can from each experience and making the most of every situation or opportunity.
Life is not about a destination. It’s about the ride.
If for example you have a job, that may or may not be your dream job, but as long as you choose to do it then you must give it your all.
Or you’re in a relationship. Give yourself to it without holding back. Whatever you’re doing, throw yourself into it, your head, your heart and all your energy.
2. Do More:
In 2022, be a doer and not just a dreamer.
Do you have goals? Or maybe some expectations? Then you must have a well thought out plan of accomplishing your goal(s).
More importantly though is the need to put your plan into ACTION. Create action plans towards achieving each goal, and then act on them. Don’t hesitate, or wait to be perfect. Just act. Take that first step now!
3. Fear Less:
Now this is a notorious one! “What if I fail?” Or “What will people say?” These statements have killed more dreams than any other singular reason.
Just how many people have failed even to attempt achieving their goals out of fear and self doubt.
But the truth is that you never actually know what you can do until you try, and you never really regret trying something, even if you fail at it. So do what you have to do. You certainly cannot spend your life always worrying about the petty feelings of others.
4. Stay Consistent:
This has been the #1 challenge in achieving my goal of becoming a writer! I know I have more work to put in for that to happen starting with my conviction, and there’s no better way to demonstrate that but to take action right where you are.
To be great at anything you have to practice, practice, and practice some more until it becomes a part of you. That is the only way to achieve your goal and excel in anything you want to do. No shortcuts and no compromise. I know this, I just have to live it.
So although it took until the 19th day of 2022 (my birthday) to finally accept that 2021 is actually truly over, I am resolving right now to start a new chapter of my life.
How about you?
There’s no better time to start than now, so just take a deep breath, and push your feet forward!
If you were asked what it was that you absolutely needed to do to live a happy and fulfilled life, what will your answer be? And most importantly, why are you not doing it right now?
This question is actually what led me to start writing. Before now, I’ll always find excuses like; lack of professional training, lack of time, ability, inspiration and so on. But then while working my butt off in a low pay job and going through the monotony of everyday life, I’ll find myself frustrated with my inability to actually do what I want to do instead. Then I asked myself, why not? I mean, why can’t I just pick up my phone and write what I feel like right now? And that was exactly what I did (and what I’m still doing actually). The moment when I did that felt so satisfying that I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to give myself the freedom to just be!
I was speaking to an old acquaintance some days ago and she said; “Cynthia you are always so calm and purposeful. Amongst all of us friends, your life must be going best. I feel like I’m the least accomplished”. I laughingly responded to her that “calm is my superpower, and my facade”. Of course it wasn’t funny. I have battles I fight everyday, they just don’t appear on my face.
We had a good long conversation where I helped her take account of what she had accomplished over the years, and she parted with the realization that she had done quite well for herself. And I left with the realization that making comparisons between your life and the lives of others is dangerous for your self esteem, your happiness and your life in general. This was what she had been doing for so long that she wasn’t seeing her own accomplishments.
Unlike what she believed, my life is not all sunshine and rainbows. I struggle like everyone else with life’s lemons. And like everybody, I have to figure out how to turn my lemons into lemonade – by changing my mindset. Each day I wake up, I am grateful to God for the life I have and make a conscious effort to BE HAPPY!
I mean all it took for me to feel happier and like my life mattered beyond paying bills and chasing the clock was to change my mindset, and start doing exactly what I felt like doing one little goal at a time.
Today I am determined to do my best in what I can, to smile and to laugh with the people I meet on my way. To share myself with others, and appreciate my little victories. Its not always easy, but when I remember that I don’t want to live a life without regrets or what ifs, that gives me the strength to keep going.
So what if you don’t have the qualifications yet? Who said you can’t start now and figure it out as you go. The secret to making everyday the happiest day of your life is simply to follow your heart, and be grateful for the little joys we easily take for granted. This is the only way to maximize your life and make it count for something, to inspire somebody and to live without regrets!
Ask yourself; “What is that which I am already regretting not doing right now? Why am I not going after it? Why am I going in a completely different direction from what I know will make me happy”? “Why am I in this job? Okay so I need this job to feed my family, but then, why am I not using every spare time I have to pursue my dream”? This could be the only reason you are frustrated, unmotivated, angry with your life right now or even possibly depressed.
So why not take the first step now to make everyday of your life regret free and as happy as possible!
It won’t get any easier, it really won’t. So knowing this, just get on with the ordeal. This is one of my personal mantras when I’m afraid of facing something and it works like a charm.
Ask yourself this;
Where you are now, is it all that great? If not, then don’t you want to know what’s on the other side of your fear?
Well I do, and that’s basically why I keep pushing. I want to know, I want to discover, I want to be more than what I am right now. Don’t you? I bet you do.
Don’t sit around waiting for things to get easier, or for the perfect time to pursue your dream because that time will never come, so just take off. The perfect time is right now. Right where you are!
All you really need is desire.
If the need or desire is strong enough, even a mountain will move from the path of the determined.
I used to be so envious of those go getters daring enough to keep going for what they wanted regardless of the circumstances. I’ll always find myself wishing I was bolder, more daring, braver, and so on – I still do.
Until I went through a very difficult time in my life and right after I pulled through that period, to my surprise I had people coming to me to confess how inspired they were watching my courage and strength – characteristics I would never have associated with myself at the time, or anytime for that matter.
So I got to the other side – the side of the victor, in-spite of how terrified I was and I realized that all those I envied before were the same.
They could have been terrified or unsure of themselves but they simply kept pushing through all that to get to the other side.
Yet what we see when we look at them is ‘The Victor’. Not the journey. Never ever their struggles or their fears.
To achieve anything in this life, we must get past the fear standing between us and our desire. We must want that thing or goal or ambition more than anything else.
Our desire must be strong enough to move the mountain that represent our fears, and only then can we come up victorious.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
To fan the flames of our desire, we need to learn the art of visualizing what we want and who we want to become.
Picture yourself exactly where you imagine yourself (realistically) to be in the future and you’ll find you’ll naturally start mapping a path to get there with each of your choices.
The question; “where do you see yourself in 5 years” has become a popular joke, but it’s a very important question.
If you take the time to try and answer it, you’ll find you likely don’t have a clear picture of who or what or where you see yourself in the nearest future. Most of us don’t.
Yet, you need to have a clear picture of where you’re going to be able to get there, or else you might very well be wasting your efforts going around in circles.
Your map to victory
So the question of the day is; What is the mountain stopping you from taking action on your goals? Is your desire strong enough right now to move it?
If not, then try to visualize; Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Picture your answer as clearly as you can and return to that image as often as you need to.
Make a visual board of your vision and change it up if necessary but no matter what, do not lose the image. Remember, that image is your map to victory!
Yes I admit it. I’m a quitter! When I feel like an endeavor might fail, I convince myself I don’t really want it and then as easy as saying “pie” I’m able to just walk away.
I avoid “embarrassing myself” by failing, and also avoid a possible victory or opportunity to grow. This habit has got to go!
My mission is to give 110% in everything I do for myself moving forward. I know I can do it because I go all out every single time for others, but then bail out when it’s mine. I almost feel like cursing at this point at how frustrating this habit is.
This boils down to my over pragmatic (and sometimes pessimistic) outlook on things. I need to change my “glass half empty” mentality by cultivating a positive mental attitude.
Poor time management(the busyness bug).
Honestly I think poor time management should be a sin. It’s that serious. I’ve always been very time conscious – still am, so I’m not even sure how I suddenly (through last year) became what I seriously detest – A person who is always so busy but hardly accomplishes anything.
So I’m scrapping the word “busy” from my personal repertoire of words until I can use it the way it should be used, not to mask; un-productivity, inefficient time management and a gross lack of direction.
Fear of leaving my comfort zone/taking risks
I am currently in the air right now flying out of state to attend a conference, and it just occurred to me (like it does whenever I’m flying) that I really do love flying.
On the other hand, I’m not a good risk taker but will always feel a deep profound joy whenever I finally let go or take a leap of faith.
Considering how empowering and rewarding it feels every time, I really wonder why it doesn’t get any easier. Either way, I need to learn to step out of my comfort zone one baby step at a time.
Overthinking and fear of failing
It’s ridiculous how hard I am on myself. I overthink things, berate myself mercilessly on the possibility of failure and then (obviously) successfully scare myself out of doing anything.
Nobody sabotages my hopes & plans like I do. That’s just so bad!
This one I can say that I’ve honestly outgrown. I’m at the point in my life where I really don’t care anymore if I’m understood or not. Dropping this habit is going to give me so much peace!
I already started it and realized I don’t miss it at all. I feel so much more powerful and unburdened knowing I don’t have to care what the next person thinks. As long as I satisfy my conscience and responsibilities, I’m good.
Not keeping in touch with loved ones
This is an important one for all of us living in this fast paced world today that’s crowded with noise but devoid of real connection.
My mum and I live in different countries so it’s hard to stay as connected as we want to, but I don’t even call as often as I know I should. There’s literally no excuse for not picking up the phone and calling a few times a week. Non at all!
Not counting my blessings often enough
Gratitude is key to a fruitful and glorious life so I have been working on this since the start of this year. I want to adopt a mentality of “when in doubt, count your blessings.”
I honestly believe that thankfulness and gratitude can create miracles and open doors where we never expect, and exactly when we need it so I’m sticking to this one.
Other Bad Habits I’ll Have To Live With For Now
Being too nice
Zero tolerance for literally everything
Not giving second chances
Bad/irregular eating habit
Taking too much coffee
Being too lazy to socialize
What I’m Reading
Red, white and royal blue by Casey McQuiston (z-lib.org) — A free source for books.
This should be an interesting experience. Wishing you all a fantastic week❤️
This is a review of the contemporary romance novel – Neon Gods by Katee Roberts. A hot, sizzling read that is just sweet enough to re-awaken my hunger for reading and sinful enough to make for a stimulating experience.
He was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell…he was, quite simply, mine. Click to read my review…
A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet. Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses.
But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.
With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.
Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price.
Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…
What would you be doing if you could do absolutely anything?
So this question actually inspired me to put together my anything-is-possible list and I had so much fun doing it that I wonder why it took me this long.
I also discovered that pouring out your heart desires (those things you would absolutely do if there were no restrictions or fears), is a very therapeutic and inspiring process. Who would have known right?
A Stranger’s Perspective
Funny enough, I was inspired to do this exercise by a former stranger (who is now my newest friend).
I recently met someone who despite not knowing anything about me, and even while trying to give himself a mental lift (perhaps because of that) was brutally honest and surprisingly insightful towards me.
He made me realize I was too afraid to visualize my desires for fear of failing to achieve them.
So I decided to make a list of everything I wanted in my life, disregarding any pre-conceived notions I have of why they ‘may not be possible’ as the next step towards my desired life. I call this step;
ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR DESIRES
Traveling: I would absolutely love to go on a world tour, continent by continent. Of course I don`t plan on going to every single country! But, I actually have a number of countries/places in each continent that I would love to see.
Writing: Oh, would I love to become a professional writer, with published works in different languages and in different countries? Absolutely! I have starting this path, now to grow while staying consistent is all I need.
Languages: So I want to be fluent in French, Mandarin and Italian. Oh my gosh, that would be such a dream!
Become my own boss: Of everything on this list, this is the one I feel the most urgency to achieve, and I most certainly will.
Natural living: This I have actually started, but I am taking such tiny baby steps that I feel the need to take one very bold step into the natural lifestyle I desire.
Earn a 2nd degree: This time, I want a degree in arts (my 1st degree is in sciences). I would really love to have a degree that would help me cross cultural boundaries, like languages.
Gain a 2nd & maybe 3rd citizenship: I want to gain a 2nd citizenship besides my country`s. I want to immerse myself in other cultures as much as I can, while having my home country to come back to.
From my list, it`s obvious (and I just realized this myself) that my greatest desire is not just to see what else is out there, but to cross the cultural boundaries set by default for me from birth.
Having admitted my desires, I actually don`t know why I haven`t been sincere to myself about what I wanted and started earnestly working towards them, because they are absolutely achievable!
So what is keeping you from living your desired life?
Have you acknowledged what you desire in that life?
What would you do if you could do absolutely anything you wanted?
Weekly Book Picks
This week’s picks (#bookishreads) were based on my need for depth and answers to questions about society, humanity, our individual choices and how these choices shape our world.
The first book is a true gem I discovered recently that provides a culturally diverse, yet unified perspective of our world today.
One of my consistent desires – world travel, has been made even more difficult by the pandemic and global restrictions.
However, Around the World in 80 Books is an experience that transports you from coast to coast, culture to culture through selected works of literature.
The memoir written by David Damrosch is a much needed global call to look past ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world in new ways through it’s inter-connected literature.
…..Damrosch includes compelling contemporary works as well as perennial classics, hard-bitten crime fiction as well as haunting works of fantasy, and the formative tales that introduce us as children to the world we’re entering.
Taken together, these eighty titles offer us fresh perspective on enduring problems, from the social consequences of epidemics to the rising inequality that Thomas More designed Utopia to combat;
as well as the patriarchal structures within and against which many of these books’ heroines have to struggle—from the work of Murasaki Shikibu a millennium ago to Margaret Atwood today.
The second book pick is an old favorite of mine, so beloved like an old friend you go to when things start losing their meaning – like they tend to do in life.
The Seeker of Truth is a highly underrated book series that more people need to read for the sheer brilliance of the author in weaving together complex societal themes & principles into such a relatable and adventurous read.
This series is incredibly long so I’ll likely read it through March but that’s okay.
For the first time ever, I’ll be writing a review of the series so it should be even more worthwhile.
“I am successful because I can. I can, because I am!” – How far you go in life depends on what you believe you can achieve, and what you believe you can do depends on who you see yourself to be.
So ultimately, the question of the day is “who are you?” Or better phrased; “who do you think you are?”
You need to take some time to think about this as it is the cornerstone of everything and anything you do in life.
This is why confidence appears to be the key to success. Also why the moniker; “fake it until you own it” is so popular, because it presents a quick fix to this complex existential (beyond just identity) crisis.
But is there really a quick fix? The answer is of course – NO! Quick fixes have their uses; but what they never really do is truly fix the problem.
Like a painkiller can soothe your pain, but to make it go away, you’ll need to find and cure the real problem – as the pain is merely an indication of a bigger problem.
So what is the real fix then? Well, let’s go back to the beginning and read the first paragraph again. The solution is to take the time to answer the question;
“Who are you?” Not who people say you are, or who your fancy degree says you are, or even who you pretend to be (we’ve all been there), but “Who do you think you are?”
When you look at yourself in the mirror, who do you see? In those quiet moments when the hustle and bustle of the day is over and the world with it’s noise finally goes silent, who do you see?
Those moments when you let yourself take off the mask you present to the world in order to survive it’s demands, who do you see?
It’ll be nice if a quick hack could fix this need for our identity (whatever it is) to be validated and wholeheartedly accepted, but it can’t.
Quick fixes are the reason you see someone looking bright and thriving one moment and the next moment you hear of their suicide. THIS IS VERY REAL.
The need for increased mental health advocacy and awareness cannot be understated.
The need for us as individuals to stop🛑 measuring ourselves by social or societal standards cannot be understated.
The need for us as individuals to have a real identity that we can ourselves accept before diving into the cesspool of fake existences crowding the world today cannot be understated.
The need to separate society’s acceptability standards from our acceptability of ourselves cannot be understated.
Finally, the need for real human support groups of family and friends absolutely cannot be understated!