Ideas are easy. For me they are anyway. What’s not so easy is taking those ideas and making them into real tangible things. I’m blessed with ideas about songs, books, and poems to write. I’m blessed with kindness and patience when I help people learn new things, or someone else is teaching me. I get ideas about trying new sports, movies, books, and more often than not I enjoy them, even if they don’t find their way to my list of favourites.
And there lies one problem: knowing what to stick with and what to set free into the ether for someone else. Through the middle portion of my thirty three years on this earth I’ve often tried to shift decision making to others. What to get off the menu out at a restaurant, what story ideas to pursue, when playing the guitar would be a good idea, when to go out and see a show. Most of the time you could call me a follower. But, instead of explicitly asking people for help and seeking cooperation through communication, I offer what I think are obvious hints. In my head they seem painfully obvious, but in reality they amount to little more than almost imperceptible breeze. Upfront communication is easiest to understand and yields the best results. Not always desired results, but the best ones. I’m working hard to communicate more transparently and completely.
There are even times I manage to miscommunicate with myself. I spent fifteen years playing ultimate to the highest level I could, waiting for a wave of acceptance to wash over me with how ‘good’ I was. Instead I set more and more unrealistic expectations, and each time I played was a waiting game to see if I messed up. I reckon if I played with a different mindset I would have enjoyed a lot more games than I did. The solution I went with kind of figured that out for me. I took three months off, played some soccer instead, and realised trying to be the absolute best was not the way I wanted to play ultimate anymore—if it ever had been in the first place. I still play hard, and try to be the best I can be with my currently relaxed fitness levels and training regime, but I don’t bring the hammer down so hard on myself when mistakes happen. Partly because I’m not training as much and my skills are not at the same level, and partly because I’ve made the decision to help everyone enjoy each game as much as they can, including me. I play to win, but don’t get annoyed as easily if things don’t go my team’s way. Sometimes the other team plays better on the day, and that’s ok. I still help people improve their skills if that’s one of their goals, and I still make some crazily good plays, but there’s less chance of darkness taking over my mind when I don’t.
I’ve always loved writing but seldom have I seen a writing project through. Even if it’s not a work to be published, there’s merit in finishing and sharing it. For years I sought approval from others that writing was a good use of my time, but seldom shared any of my stories. Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive book series, said he wrote thirteen novels before one of them was published. Thirteen! I’m only one fifth of the way through editing my first fantasy novel, and have maybe fifty pages of the first draft of another three fantasy and sci-fi stories. I’ve got a fair way to go before I can claim to have put in even a portion of hard work like many authors have. The editing has been a lot of work, requiring some tough decisions, but I can admit I like the story and even the characters—it’s like I’m getting to know them for the first time as I read through again! Looking forward I can see a time when I finish editing this book and submit it for publishing. At that point it will be someone else’s decision, but right now I’m not waiting for some arbitrary point which will be ‘the right time’ anymore. I’m not waiting for someone to stand alongside me, nodding their head as though telling me I’m doing something lifechanging. I’m putting the hard yards in and doing it.
The same goes for my music. I’m cutting out the phrases, “In the future I’ll get around to it”, and, “But is it good enough?” from my life and recording the songs because I want to. There is no time like the present, to do what I know I can.
Are there things you are putting off? Now, being honest, are there good reasons for doing so? If you can’t think of any, how can you start doing those things?
Hard work, a good team around you, and belief in yourself. Three pieces to the puzzle that will help you achieve your goals. At first they might seem intangible, but here’s a first step to ask yourself: