Last week, I wrote about changeaholism. There were recovery steps. And bad words. And apparently, it struck a nerve. MANY of you emailed and private messaged me about how you are changeaholics. You thanked me. You made confessions. You sang songs of my brilliance [Seriously. One chick sent me a song.]. Not many of you were actually willing to speak up publicly, though. Seems that many of you are still not-so-willing to tell the world that you are a fuck up, just like everyone else.
I was shocked. Really. Ok, no, not really. I am apparently part of a rare breed that is
brave dumb enough to shine a spotlight on the big green thing I have permanently stuck between my teeth. This really isn’t news. I’ve been really good at being the one at the party who whispers something embarrassing to a friend, who then says, “What?!?” because it’s too loud, and then I accidentally yell something like,
“THIS BRA IS TOO SMALL AND I HAVE GAS.”
at just the right moment when the whole room gets quiet. Story of my life.
So, when I am all like, “Hey! I am addicted to change, and that has both blessed and fucked up my life!” I fully thought that a bunch of people would be all like, “Hey, yeah… me too!” It never occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t share things I’m shitty at [which apparently DID occur to many of you].
I like people who suck at things.
I don’t really want an accountant who’s also a good chef who dresses well. I kinda want an accountant who’s socially awkward to a degree that it makes me a little uncomfortable but who is also obsessed with things I don’t understand and/or hate doing.
But here’s the kicker for me. For all my rampant love of change, and my constant need to learn and grow and be more [whatever more means] I am also EXCELLENT at lying to myself about things I can’t do. I tell myself stories that stop me from trying new things – until someone else tells me I can’t do said thing, and then I have to become an expert at it [read: How I Became a Designer]. But barring an external force telling me I suck, I am really not all that self motivated. In the interest of further exploring Step 2 [shine a light on the dust bunnies – from last week’s post]. Here’s a list of a few of the things I have been telling myself for years that probably aren’t true:
I can’t garden. I kill plants. In reality, I’ve just never tried. Who knows? I could probably dig a hole and put seeds in. I mean really… I live in Oregon. Everything grows here. I probably can garden.
I suck at social media. I do suck at social media, but I could probably change that if I wanted to. But getting good at social media seems so expected in my business. And I generally do the opposite of that. So, I continue to suck at it.
99% of the time, I am full of crap. This one is probably really extra not true. I help people with my brain power all the time. Doesn’t stop me from telling myself this way more than I probably should.
See, change [/growth] is a funny thing. It’s deeply, deeply linked to motivation. To find out why you make changes all the time, you really have to discover your core motivation first. And I’m not talking about what gets you up in the morning. I’m talking about your for-realsies deep truth. Chances are good that it’s not what you tell yourself it is, or what you wish it is. It might be something as simple as money. It might be that you just really hate something-or-other, so you push back against it in whatever way you can. It might be that you fear stagnation. Or you hate your mother. Or you’re trying to prove something. Whatever it is, it’s the thing that made you do the biggest, most impressive things in your life. Feel shame about not being as educated as your parents? I bet you really want to go back to school every five minutes.
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that you, “Want to be of service to others,” or, “Want to make the world a better place.” That’s probably bullshit. You may want that too… but it’s probably not what motivates you.
I am motivated by wanting to be the smartest person in the room.
It’s annoying, and often obnoxious, but there it is.
I fight it all the time and most days I lose. So, I often discount pursuing things that don’t further that motivation in some way. I mean, who wants to hear me talk about my garden? No one. That’s who. Garden cussing isn’t all that entertaining.
Does confronting this mean that I don’t sincerely want to help others? Or that I am not totally addicted to giving? Or that I don’t have artistic little gremlins inside that are just constantly poking and gnawing their way to the surface? Of course not. All those things are still true.
The heart of it is that good change starts to happen when you start telling yourself the truth – when you let in the things you aren’t proud of to play with the things you are. It’s like handcuffing a bully to a smart kid. Bully comes out smarter, smart kid comes out tougher [At least that’s the theory. Smart kid may or may not end up with a black eye. He’ll live.].
So here’s the truth:
I can garden. I just never really saw the point, and until this recent resurgence of old-timey hobbies among the young and interesting, I never really liked or understood people who spent their days off getting filthy and doing manual labor.
I don’t have to suck at social media, and it probably has more value than I give it credit for. Like my Facebook page already, would you? There. How was that for a start?
Now that I know these things, I can shift my change-craving-inner-monster towards something more productive than re-inventing my life every five minutes.
Instead, I can change the stories I tell myself. So I’m doing that. One at a time. Here’s my plan:
1. Make a longer, more complete list of all the things I have been lying to myself about for years.
2. Tackle said list one at a time.
3. Look at each item not as something I ‘really should do’, but instead as a story I can change. Changeaholic happy = less redesigning my website over and over = less obsessing about boredom and stagnation.
I call this plan Inner-Marketing. Basically, I am wrapping an old idea in a package I can stomach, branding it with a sexy font and selling it to my rebel brain in a way that I can get on-board with. I’m inventing a new lie – a better lie, by telling myself the truth.
Like I said… marketing.
I’m starting with an herb garden.
Who’s with me?