I was recently chatting with one of my design classmates who is about to graduate. I asked her what she had planned after graduation and what type of work she was looking to do. She shrugged and replied, “I’m just going to send out a bunch of resumes and hope something sticks.”  You have to realize that I have no pokerface whatsoever and was silently praying that she couldn’t see that I was thinking, “OMG! THAT’S your ‘plan’?!!??!!”  Overall, our teachers do a good job showing all the options and different paths that are available to us as graphic designers. So, yeah, this was shocking to me. My point is not to gossip about a classmate, but to illustrate the importance of concrete goals.

Up until fairly recently most of my life’s goals have been weight loss related. Those who know me in real life know that those goals…um…have been less then achieved. Anyway, I fell into my last job and floated through life, more or less hoping something better would come knocking on the door. Eventually I realized that the only way out is through and it was up to me to improve my situation. So, I had to quickly get acquainted with goal setting.

For me, it’s not setting the goal that’s the hard part. I am going to be Empress of Chicago. Boom. Goal set. See how easy that was?  It’s the allowing myself to achieve it that is scary (or in the case of my impending Empressdom, scary for everyone else). I never envisioned myself as much more then a secretary . So going in a completely new direction is sometimes overwhelming. Being completely honest, if I start to look too far into the future, I get anxious. Like panic attack anxious. I start to think, “But what if I can’t? But what if I do get there there and I fail?? But what if…but what if…but what if….”

Judging from this passage in Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art where he calls this “the Mother of All Fears,” I’m not alone in my madness:

We fear discovering that we are more then we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land…..We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space with nothing and no one to hold on to.

Pretty terrifying, but pretty accurate description of the fear.

In order to stop any sort of resistance from snowballing out of control, I’ve been making small goals to get me over that next hurdle. Sometimes they are incredibly small, as in, “What can I do today/this hour/the next 5 minutes that will get me that much closer to my goals?”  Then I’ll catch myself doing something that a few months before I didn’t think was possible. All those little goals add up and it makes the bigger goals not loom so large.

If we give in to this feeling of fear, then we give even more power to our insecurities and get no place. It’s like that saying, “A ship is safe in the harbor. But that’s not what boats are for.” You were meant to sail. We all were. But it really helps if you at least have an idea where you are going.

Music inspires me more then anything and the song, “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons is the perfect soundtrack for this post. It has a banjo! Who doesn’t love banjos? Oh, put your hand down and just watch it!


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