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I’m not yelling at you! I’m yelling at me! Stop reading this, and just do it. Whatever you are reading in “preparation” for the doing, put it down because enough is enough. (Please do finish reading this blog post first, though, of course, thanks. Oh, and leave a comment, share, and tell everyone how wonderful I am.)
A wise person recently told me,
“I just never felt ready or prepared . . . I realized that my idea of readiness was completely wrong. Instead, I needed to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. To me, being ready is the same as being stagnant. I don’t want to be on the mark and ready. I want to be running. I don’t even need to be sprinting. I just want to be moving in some direction.”
This is a lesson that people frequently forget or ignore. They remain frozen in place at that ready line for much longer than they need to be. They are waiting for the whistle or the pistol signaling it’s time to run instead of taking off on their own and taking responsibility for the race. (Disclaimer: this is figurative speech and if you do this in a real race you will be disqualified.)
As usual, I am guilty of the very thing I am preaching (if you forgot the purpose of this blog, refer to this). I used to be a voracious reader as a kid, became convinced self-help books were for losers because of how it’s made fun of in media, got interested in said self-help books as an adult (because millennial “ah-dults” need all the help we can get and screw you, media), and either read or deplore not reading enough while not actually putting to action any of what I was reading, rendering it unimportant whether I even did read or not. (Go ahead, take some time to reread that monstrosity of a sentence again.)
Honestly, though, as helpful as they are, such authors and self-help gurus can only do so much. After they inform us and egg us on, what’s left is all on us, but we don’t take that baton (yes, it’s a team relay metaphor now, come on, stay with me here).
The crowd is screaming, “Just do it! Just do it!” but we scream back, “PERFORMANCE ANXIETY, get with it!” and angrily stomp off the field with our journals.
It isn’t that we don’t know what we’re supposed to do. We’re afraid of actually doing it. We know that we have to create a plan, take fifteen minutes a day to start any task, become more assertive with expressing ourselves, send that email, break up with toxic friends, and all of that, but knowing it and practicing it are two very different things.
You have to ask yourself two questions:
- are you reading actively enough,
- and what is holding you back?
And those two answers cannot be found in any self-help book because they are different for each individual and they are within yourself.
Firstly, are you reading in an active manner? Do not just read, but take active participation in what the author is saying. This is how you converse with the text: you write in the margins, you highlight (but this is not the most helpful method), take notes after, and actually participate in the activities or questions the author asks within the text.
I have currently been on The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People for weeks now. WEEKS. At the very beginning, Stephen R. Covey told me that he will be sprinkling exercises throughout. I just waved it off and kept reading through it. And the thing is these habits are put into linear steps rather than separate habits, but instead of working on one step before moving onto the next, I am trying to read the whole book and failing miserably because I did not master–not to mention, entirely forgot–the first three steps. This is a prime example of passive, fruitless, pointless reading.
It really doesn’t matter how much you’re reading if you aren’t internalizing and solidifying through action. Reading is not as passive an activity as you may believe.
Then there’s the bigger question: what is holding you back? Because something definitely is–maybe multiple somethings, lined up like hurdles on the race track. Yeah, it’s this kind of race. You can’t avoid those hurdles. You’re scared to jump over them. So why not…pummel through them? (Again, don’t do this in a real race, cheater.)
But first, you have to find out what they are. What is holding you back? Most likely it is fear. If my main enemy of last year was self-hatred, my main enemy this year is fear. It is the greatest predator, like brain-eating bacteria.
It is fear that makes you question and doubt yourself. It is fear that will not have you taking that step off the diving board into unknown waters (yes, we’ve moved onto another sports metaphor). What if you drown? What if the pool is shallow? Shoot, you haven’t mastered swimming yet! How do you hold your breath underwater again?
One of the biggest fears holding someone back is the fear of failure. Another one of the biggest fears is fear of success. That is why you procrastinate. That is why you do not invest in yourself. That attributes to depression, anxiety, and stress. There are other reasons, like fear of commitment, fear of death, fear of being betrayed, fear of being alone, and fear of rambling sentences like this one, you brave, brave child.
Find out what they are, make a list, check them twice, figure out if you were naughty or nice–wait, wrong list. But it is time to confront the fears–first by writing them out. Stare them in the face. Stare them down, own that glare. And then kick those hurdles down, whatever actions you need to take. Sometimes, the hurdle will bounce back and hit you in the neck or the chest or even the groin (Hey! It hurts for women, too!). Those moments will sting, but you will be way closer to the finish line than if you had stalled at the ready mark. You might get there bruised and scarred, but healing and stronger than before.
Now that you are done with this post, I release you. I release you to start rolling down the hill, knocking down hurdles like a snowball (what dangerous race is this and who planned it to take place on a snowy hill), to gather momentum, grow larger, and become closer to where you want to be.
That is all. Go now. Be gallant. Just do it. Do. Be.
Thank you for keeping up with my crazy, all-over-the-place metaphors. Fun times.