Last year, I did a hard thing that I didn’t know how to do that scared me to do that I wasn’t at all sure I actually could do.
(Disclaimer: I promise I am not telling you this to toot my own horn. I’m sharing this because I truly believe something powerful, I learned along the way might be helpful to someone else along their own way.)
The hard (for me) thing I did was self-publish a book.
(Disclaimer 2: I am telling you specifically what I did only because I know if I was reading an article like this and the person writing it didn’t tell me what it was, he or she’d done, I’d spend the entire time yelling, “Well, what did you do?!!”)
(Disclaimer 3: I am 100% not telling you this to sell the book. I just didn’t know how to share the part I think might be helpful without filling in a few very minor details so we can get to what really matters. In saying that, onward and forward.)
I had never done anything like this before. I had no idea how to do it. I didn’t have help from anyone (except for the design of the cover by my incredibly talented niece—a help so huge that without it, I never would have entertained the idea of even starting in the first place). The layout of the book made it so that every page was essentially a new chapter, which meant every page (380 of them) required A TON of formatting I had no idea how to do.
Helping me along this steep learning curve was a 16-page “paperback interior formatting” guide provided by the self-publishing platform I used, with frightening and foreign-sounding (to me) terms and phrases like “mirror margins” and “preserve font fidelity.”
It’s a good thing I had no idea how hard it would be for me to figure this out (a year-long process, as it turned out), because if I’d known that when I started, I never would have started at all. By the time I did figure it out, I was too far in to turn back.
I had to finish. So, I cried (some more) and kept on.
I spent entire days on the most minor of details. I messed up royally on some parts and had to start all over again. Even when I thought I was done, I had to go back to square one on of the most crucial, visible elements.
(Have I mentioned the crying?)
But finally, it was done. And here’s why I needed to tell you all that:
Because I cannot count the number of times since I finished and have been facing another task I didn’t know how to do—one I was scared to do and wasn’t sure I even could do—that I’ve told myself, “Elizabeth. You self-published a book. You can do this.”
Just yesterday, in fact, I had to hook up a new electronic device at our house. I am electronic device challenged to begin with, and we do not have a good history in our home of successful device installations. (Speaking of crying.) But it needed to be done, and I was the person who needed to do it.
I started to feel that panicky sensation I’m well-acquainted with. So many things could go wrong. I was beginning to spiral into dread and imminent-disaster land when I gave myself a good talking to.
“Elizabeth. You self-published a book. You can do this.”
And I did. There wasn’t even any crying.
My point in telling you all this (and if you’ve hung on for The Point, THANK YOU so much) is to encourage you that if you’ve got some hard thing you’re scared to do that that you are not quite sure how to do or that you are not confident that you can do but that thing is good or important or necessary to do, just know that all that effort and blood, sweat, and tears (I’m sensing a theme here) will not just be for the thing itself. It will be for so many other things for the rest of your life.
Moments when you’re facing some other thing or task (usually of lesser difficulty and scope), and you start to feel that squeezy sensation but then you think back to that big, hard thing you did, and you, too, give yourself a good talking to:
“[Insert your name here]! You [insert the big, hard, scary thing you did]! You can do this!”
And you’ll be surprised, amazed, and quite delighted at how resetting and emboldening this little motivational you-to-you speech actually is.
So, what are you waiting for? Self-publish that book or take that class or get that degree or learn that song or run that race or give that speech or climb that mountain.
There might be some (or a lot) of crying involved. You may be tempted to quit along the way. But if you keep going and cross the finish line, you’ll have something beyond the thing you already did you’ll have one powerful self pep-talk for the next thing you need or want to do at the ready.
by Elizabeth Spencer