If I knew then what I know now…
Did a project you started end up being much harder than you anticipated when you began?
I have had this happen because I often dive into a project without having a clear understanding of everything involved until I face it—which has worked well for me because several times, had I known all that would be involved, I would likely have been too intimidated to start! Instead, I challenged myself and have done things I never would have allowed myself to imagine.
In these days of new technology and new possibilities we sometimes have to make our own path. That can be exhilarating, but having so much unknown—especially the parts that you don’t know you don’t know—can set you up for discouragement.
I faced this when I published my book, Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women.
Understanding that complete editorial control over my work was critical, I knew my only route was to self-publish. At that time, CreateSpace and other easy self-publishing options existed, but the complexity of my envisioned layout made those solutions unworkable. So, I created Pomegranate Grove Press. Publication was a long process with its ups and downs.
I never started a publishing company before, so at the outset, everything seemed simple. Just follow one short list of steps, right? Even after talking with people who have walked this path before, I still encountered unexpected issues. My lack of rapid progress left me discouraged.
Here are some things that I didn’t know then, but that I know now, that helped me through my self-doubt:
I expect my various projects to be more complex than they look initially.
Now I know to leave space in my plan for unforeseen obstacles. Knowing that setbacks WILL occur is helpful for setting realistic deadlines, and even more, it puts me in a better frame of mind to deal with whatever comes up.
I tend to be optimistic in terms of how long I think something should take.
Now I know to factor that time into the equation. Then I add a buffer, especially when there are hard deadlines.
I became discouraged during times when nothing I tried worked and I began to feel helpless. The more I kept pushing myself, the more discouraged I got, which fed my helplessness.
Now I know to stop myself when I begin feeling this way and take a break. I talk with people who can help in places where I’m stuck and other people who can assist me with my helpless feelings. Coaches and mentors are great for these. Then I choose a new action based on what I’ve learned and act on it. Just taking steps different from what I was doing before encouraged and empowered me.
I acted on my assumptions and made mistakes by not looking closely into what I was assuming.
Now I know that I need to first recognize situations where I am assuming and then examine those things closely from different angles. I ask myself, What are the consequences if my assumptions aren’t true?
When publication neared, my self-defeating thoughts grew. What if the books aren’t printed in time for my launch? What if no one comes to my launch? What if I’m not good enough?
Now I know that some of these can be real concerns, not only negative self-talk. Some of these thoughts can bring up potential issues that, if addressed, can save me from catastrophe. Others have no basis in reality, they are just my fear talking. Nevertheless, they can all be dealt with the same way. Whenever these worries come to mind, I finish the sentence with an idea on how to prevent these worries from becoming realities. For example:
“What if my books aren’t printed in time?” becomes “Maybe my books won’t arrive in time so I will either send them to the printer earlier, expedite the printing and/or shipping, or talk with the printer to make sure they are aware of the potential issue and give me submission guidelines, etc.”
“What if no one comes to my launch?” becomes “Maybe no one will come to my launch so I will double-down on publicity, call my friends and invite them personally, put up signs on public bulletin boards, and let people in groups I belong to know about it and remind them when the date gets closer.”
“What if I’m not good enough?” becomes “I’m afraid I’m not good enough, so I will look to see if that’s really true. What evidence do I have that I AM good enough? Who can I ask who will give me honest feedback?”
Deciding not to take on your project because it seems daunting, or because you don’t know just how to do it, would leave the world a much poorer place. When you let your fear of the unknown get in the way of pursuing your passion, you could be depriving yourself of your best life—or at the least of some important personal and career development. And even better… you don’t have to do it alone! You may find my blog post, Counting Down to Launch helpful.
Watch my free video, The #1 Reason You’re Not Doing What you Need to Do and How to Change That.