Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo d Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown

I can offer you all the incentive in the world, but if you don’t want something enough for yourself and if the motivation doesn’t come from within you, you won’t get where you say you want to be. So, are you your own worst enemy? Let’s see…

Do you always focus on what you haven’t done? Or what is not right?

Too often we allow ourselves to become paralysed by our own brilliance. The dissenters amongst you will be eschewing the fact that you even are brilliant. It seems to be a sad fact that so few people can see what they do right in their day to day life, work and writing. Focusing on what isn’t going right is a sure fire way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I doubt that any of us are fulfilled by the experience.

You can retrain yourself to focus on what is going right. What you do well.. Teach yourself to notice, and appreciate, all the things, no matter how trivial, which are working well and keep a track of them. Record these small (and large) successes in a notebook and carry it with you. Update it and read it often. You might have managed to get the washing on the line before you left for work today. Granted, that isn’t a writing goal, but it is something that went right.. And it sure beats ironing the wrinkles out of something that has been sitting in the washing machine all day before getting out on the line, doesn’t it? You may have nutted out a problem with your plot of your current book, or had a brilliant idea to up the conflict in the book you’ve just had rejected but still believe in your heart of hearts that it deserves a home at a publishing house somewhere. Every one of those ‘eureka’ moments is a success. Seize them, use them, and learn by them and above all record them so you can pat yourself on the back for your achievement.

What drives you? Fear of Failure? Or Fear of Success?

Having enjoyed the debut album of Jazz star Norah Jones I was stunned to read on a news site that she was so apprehensive about success that when album sales reached one million she requested her record company cease selling her album! Can you believe it? This is fear of success in big capital letters! Thankfully, the record company didn’t listen and the album went on to sell over six million copies and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy Award.

Think what this scenario does for you. Do you allow fear of success to trap you into mediocrity? Does fear of success prevent you from reaching your goals? Do you really understand what your goals are, and how achieving them will change (or not change) your life? Have you asked yourself how much you really want it? Honestly? Ask yourself what the worst thing is that could happen? Think about your response carefully then push it aside. Very often the future is out of our control and learning to let go of what is holding us back can be one of the hardest and cruelest lessons in our lives. For lack of any other mantra, use the Serenity Prayer (God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.) say it, mean it and then record all the things in your life that you cannot change, the things you want the strength to change and accept that whatever is the guiding power in your life will control your future.

Weigh it up. Is the pain of regret going to be worse than the pain of discipline? Basically, what hurts more, getting what you want, or not getting it?

Do you believe you have no self-worth?

Have you forgotten all the things you have achieved in your life? Or do you lack simple pride in your successes. Many of us are brought up not to be ‘prideful’ and not to draw attention to our successes, achievements, awards etc. Why shouldn’t you be proud? Why can’t you accept a compliment? Isn’t it your right when you’ve worked hard for what you’ve achieved? Of course it is.

Learn to acknowledge the things you do right in your world. Take pride and share them. I love the adage, ‘A problem shared is halved, but happiness shared is doubled’.. Do everyone a favour and share your achievements and know that you did well. If you’ve entered or finalled in a competition, tell your family and friends. If you’ve written your first page in months, shout it from the rooftops. Don’t hide your light. Let everyone bask in it.

Are you constantly comparing yourself to others, and finding you don’t measure up?

This has often been one of my biggest problems, but from time to time I make myself pull out and examine the self-doubts and self-sabotage that I indulge in, and open myself to help from my peers. From my own experience, comparing myself to someone I admire and wish to emulate didn’t motivate me any more than reading a good book. What it did do is leave me stagnant because I felt that I would never be good enough. Never make that grade.

Comparing yourself to others is probably the best way to lose YOU. And why would you want to do that? Each of us is an individual. Each of us brings something different through skill, perspective, life experience and sheer being to others. If you must compare yourself to someone else, look at the things in which you are similar, rather than the things that set you apart and then sit down and find a string of complimentary, positive (and true!) adjectives that describe YOU. Keep them handy and when you find yourself comparing yourself in a less than favourable light with someone else, pull that list out and remind yourself how great you are. Harness that greatness and use it to drive you to reach your true potential.

“What I adore is supreme professionalism. I’m bored by writers who can write only when it’s raining.” – Noel Coward