My co-worker and I made a commitment to blog. It was something that I was excited to try. I had a lot of ideas, I just couldn’t manage to get them onto paper… I was stuck in the moments just before GO.
Do you know how long the pause is between cursor blinks? Best estimate, it appears to be one second. One second that stretches into minutes as I stare blankly at the computer screen, wishing for words. The sound of the blinking cursor is almost audible; timed by its arrival and departure on screen, tick tock…
Eventually, the trance is broken, 3,720 cursor blinks that I will never get back. I stand up to walk around, pick up a book for inspiration, sip a glass of luke-warm water (another reminder of time passed) and wonder why a collective they can write so well. In truth, I know writers’ struggle during their process towards print, just as artists struggle to complete a masterpiece. Yet in a writer’s fog, I lose perspective. I judge my process against their outcome, without considering their unique journey.
And it isn’t just with writing – this loss of perspective. In most of our starts, we judge ourselves against another’s final product. A self-sabotaging tactic that wastes our time, zaps our energy, and sometimes prevents us from actually beginning.
Do you identify with these scenarios?
- A position posts that you are interested in, but you never apply;
- You start a new job and immediately judge your ability against those who have been in a position or organization for years;
- While considering a new exercise regimen you criticize your ability against people who are simply, not you!
In our loss of perspective, we are sidelined by our inability to start. We jump into ‘what if’s’ or someone else’s outcome and forget that our mind belongs in a different state of thinking. As the gun flares to start the race, we are in a trance, imagining all of the obstacles ahead. Then, instead of beginning – we fail to cross the starting line.
When I stopped making excuses and sat down to write, I quickly re-read Ann Lamott’s (2005) Shitty First Drafts. I laughed at her personal submission to “trust the process – sort of, more or less.” What choice do we have? We have a desire to start – whether it’s a job, a book, a new exercise routine, a business venture, a blog – and we have a desire to finish; to produce something valuable. We cannot will a final outcome to appear. We have to work for it. We have to start regardless of how we feel.
Action creates clarity. Electing to begin often creates the clarity needed to move towards something better. For my quest to produce a blog post, a first draft is my start. Writing is iterative and once I begin, I have a product in process. The reward that comes with having the first step behind me is the drive I need to maintain momentum. Using the example above, if you are going after a new job, updating a resume might be your best start. It removes one obstacle or excuse, it is movement towards submitting an application.
If you are like me, the unknowing first steps can be hard, which actually makes the outcome much more rewarding. The steps that follow create clarity, stability, and momentum to keep moving us forward. Momentum to carry us over the pebbles and boulders on our journey towards a finish line.
I am learning to embrace the starting line – and the blinking cursor waiting to follow my lead.
What starting line are you trying to cross?
Authored by Michaela Bearden, Director, Center for Corporate Education