Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Confidence: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone, Part Two

“All the concepts about stepping out of your comfort zone mean nothing until you decide that your essential purpose, vision and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations.” Robert White

Question: If we agree professional success means making a living by doing something we’re passionate about and that something is writing, what is keeping you from being a successful writer?


Sure, old emotional baggage, time and even financial constraints might make it on the “what’s keeping me back” list, but according to many success experts, fear is the number one boogey man keeping people from succeeding in realizing their dream. If we’re really being honest here, what’s usually the first weapon of choice in combating that fear? Denial. And that denial looks like you wearing your favorite sweat pants parked on your favorite cushy couch snuggled up in the afghan your grandma made all ready to drown yourself in the entire series of LOST that just arrived from Netflix. It’s your weekend off from working that job you’re just “OK” with and it’s time to relax. This is comfortable…not want you want, maybe, but good enough.

Comfort zones are prisons of your own making. You stop yourself from succeeding.

What do some of the most talented writers fear the most? I’ve heard it over and over and many have shared their tale with me. It’s tragic! They fear success. Sounds crazy, right? They fear what will happen when they actually do succeed in getting their work published and out there for the world to read. They fear the bad reviews, the poorly attended book signings, and their publisher’s eventual disappointment in them when they don’t sell through their first print run. Or if they do intend on making the bestsellers list, they fear failure: failure to write a follow-up bestselling book; failure to manage their money and time; failure to stay true to their core amidst all the media frenzy that follows great work. Others fear exposure. Writing and having a few people review your work favorably is all well and good, but the whole country?! The world?! Some writers can’t deal with that level of exposure.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The first step toward breaking out of your comfort zone is this: realize that horrible gnawing feeling that turns your stomach into knots when you think about all the “what ifs” is totally natural and there is nothing wrong with you; it’s what happens when you step out of your norm. If you want to continue to succeed with this dream, it’s going to happen more than once. Congratulations! It means you’re growing and that’s awesome! If you want to become a successful, published author, you HAVE to put yourself out there. Many likeminded people, your target audience, will accept you. You will inevitably encounter those who don’t care for your work or an indifferent. Big deal. I’m sure you have several friends who don’t care for a particular author you love. Do you care, really? I’m sure you’ve got better things to think about.

Second, ditch the sorry what if I don’t make it talk, already! If people genuinely like your work on the home front, you’re passionate about writing, have all kinds of great ideas brewing, your craft is good and continues to develop, you’re open to learning and aren’t afraid of meeting people, know that you can make it! Accept no other reality. Ever! You will make it and you know what? You’re already on the road. It takes a lot of work on your part, but you’ll do it.

Your exercise for the remainder of the week: Write down all the reasons why you think you can’t make it as a successful writer. Realize these are thoughts that chain you to your comfy couch. It’s important to confront these thoughts and deal with them rationally so you can move on unencumbered by all that hefty baggage. Then, shred the list. Toss it! Understand only you can make your writer’s life the way you really want it. You are the person in charge of your success, not your mom, dad, spouse, boss, or anyone else. It starts with you.

Share your success stories with me! I want to hear them! Post on the blog or email them to me at
erin.reel@gmail.com. Don’t be shy.

Next week, author of Before You Say Yes, Doreen Pendgracs, shares with us how harnessing the power of feedback and using positive affirmation boosts your success.

Have a great week, writers!

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