“The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’” – Ricky Gervais
Just about everything I’ve churned out since I decided to pursue my writing dreams has been wrought with behind-the-scenes fumbling around, lots of swearing under my breath, and delays that drew out the time it took to create my dream projects.
But one of the most enlightened things I ever told myself when I started this whole shebang was that it is OK to have no idea what’s going on. It is OK to be gossiped about. It is OK to stumble. It is OK to be the last one to know, or to be the last one to finish. What is NOT OK is to decide that fear would lead me by the nose straight into the boring, false safety of staying stuck within the limits of what I already knew.
In fact, the phrase ‘nose to the grindstone’ has taken on a definition in this world that actually lacks the depth of its true meaning. It’s not just about working hard; it’s about paying so much attention to the work you love that you not only block out debilitating distractions, but also grind away your fears through consistent direct action.
Doing this starts with the decision to be vulnerable enough to let others know that we don’t always know what we’re doing.
Once this decision is crystal clear in our minds, it becomes significantly less daunting to go for our goals. This is because it opens up the space to ask for help and to stay confident even in the face of realizing we have learned only about .0001% of what we need to know. It also helps us to shake of unconstructive criticism much more readily.
Here are some suggestions for opening up to others and admitting that you just don’t know what the heck is going on:
- Realize it’s normal to be clueless. No one is born with the knowledge of how to start a business, promote our dreams, or reach every goal. Instead, we’re born with gifts. Making those gifts into talents requires diving headfirst into the unknown. This is a Universal truth, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either in denial, or has not bothered working on their dreams.
- Imagining your worst fears coming true. Think about being made fun of, rejected, or failing. Really imagine, how would this would feel? Sit in that ugliness. Then switch it up. Feel how great it would be to stand up for yourself, accept where you are, and get back up to try again after falling. Experience that joy. Keep practicing this inner switch so that when the real thing happens, making the move to a more positive outlook is already a habit for you.
- Say, “so what!” a lot. I must say this to myself a hundred times a month. I said it right before starting on this article today, in fact: ‘Don’t know what you’re going to write about today, Kirstie? So what! It’ll come to you.’ This clears out our inner space of the fear that limits us so that creative ideas are able to move in and make themselves at home.
- Remind yourself that the people putting you down for being clueless are not helping you make progress towards your goals. We all will encounter cattiness, disrespect, or sometimes even blatant unkindness about our abilities while working on our passions. Yet the definition of success doesn’t include these negative aspects, so we can’t include them in our lives if we want to be successful. We have to be very firm about this, because toxicity is sneaky, and will slip in through any tiny opening that we give it.
- Make whatever you’re working on your entire Universe. When I first started blogging, I spent countless hours researching the minute details of how one plugin does or does not coexist with another plugin. Have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s OK – a year and a half ago I would have been scrunching up my eyes quizzically right along with you. But the point is, when you decide to learn something, focus on it like it’s that double-fudge chocolate cake you have every year for your birthday. By doing this, you allow yourself the presence of mind to actually figure things out – even the less-than-thrilling subjects like plugins. This in turn empowers you to view ‘not knowing’ differently. Rather than being something overwhelming, being clueless suddenly becomes a springboard to success.
- Reward yourself with lots of good stuff. Not knowing what’s going on can be a frustrating, daunting, and at times emotionally draining experience. To counter these feelings, it’s important to become your own biggest fan. Eat a slice of that double-fudge chocolate cake after conquering Pinterest, for example, or brag about how you moved your latest article out of Yoast SEO plugin’s “red light district”. In other words, celebrate the small stuff. Over time, it adds up to giant stuff, so enjoy each moment!