Three years ago at the age of 41 I decided to take up the sport of short track speed skating, even though I had only skated three times as an adult. Eventually this led me to training for and participating in a triathlon earlier this year–I knew it would be awesome!
Once I learned how to swim.
The three year process that brought me to today made me realize two very important things:
(1) I need to find a sport that doesn’t require me to wear lycra,
(2) You can do anything you set your mind to.
I have been given invaluable advice from coaches and trainers, all of which can help you succeed in real life, but first you have to quit a few bad habits.
As annoying as it is, your parents were right, their parents were right, and so on. Nothing worthwhile is every easy. Hopefully you’re doing what you do because you love it–it brings you joy, you feel passionate about it. But there are days when you will be filled with frustration and tears, days where you are thrust outside your comfort zone and ask, “What the hell am I doing?”
My decision making process goes something like this: Does this scare the crap out of me? If the answer is yes, then I know I should probably do it.
Doing something that scares you is very empowering. Each time you go outside of your comfort zone you become mentally tougher. So whether you’re doing something small like introducing yourself to a group of strangers or getting into a pool for your first swim lesson or something large like travelling around the world by yourself or speaking in front of a crowd, each time you do it, you’re empowering yourself.
If you want easy, go back to Kindergarten and colour. If you want rewarding, push yourself into a zone of discomfort and come out the other side. It might never get easier but you will become stronger.
ZOMG! I got an email! From a brand! And they want to work with me! Only, it’s not really the right fit and my gut is telling me I should say no but I can’t say no because WHAT IF THEY NEVER EMAIL ME AGAIN.
Right there, you are basing a decision on fear–fear that you will never be contacted by that brand again–and unlike doing something that scares you, basing a decision on fear never ends well.
Take a deep breath and push that fear aside, then respond to them and explain why it’s not a good fit and tell them what is a good fit for you. Don't say yes to every opportunity that comes along just for the sake of doing it. Have integrity and use your no to create a relationship.
Twitter and Facebook are evil. You’re at home on your couch wearing sweatpants and covered in chip crumbs. You go on Twitter and see people tweeting from the #FunnestEventEver! and now you’re bitter.
Or you’re on Facebook and you click a link to what is clearly a sponsored post and you’re all “Why did they get this opportunity? I love *insert brand name here* and I would have rocked that post.”
"How did she get published in a magazine????"
Well dear, brush off those crumbs and put your stomping foot away. As my coach once said, there is always going to be someone who can run faster, ride harder and swim better than you so stop focusing on what everyone else around you is doing and focus on yourself.
If you put the time and energy you take looking into what everyone else is doing and use it to improve your craft, you will not only become successful, you’ll become a better person. Period.
Listen, there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there. Replacing a blogger is like trying to punch a hole in water. The moment you remove your hand, there’s someone there to take your place.
So, no, what you do isn’t special.
But who you are? Your experiences? How you tell your stories? That’s what’s special. That’s what makes you, you–and what gives you your unique voice. Figure out what that voice is, hone it, and make it so undeniably you that people will know you’ve written a piece even if your name isn’t on it.
That’s when you’ll succeed.