Down in my basement I felt drawn to an endless succession of DIY tasks. Be it erecting a stud wall or installing a bit of tanking. In fact I was more inclined do that than ponder what the hell I was doing with my life. And whether freelancing was still for me.
With profound challenges looming over us, why do humans distract ourselves from what really matters? Why do we project onto other matters that really aren’t a priority?
Time for a little reflection and amateur psychology
When it comes to DIY I’m confident I can do most things (or at least try). It’s a facet of my life where I have complete faith in my ability. Arrogantly, perhaps – but we all have our proclivities.
In which aspects of your life do you feel equally confident? Maybe it’s cooking, sport, gardening or raising children. There’ll be activities where you rarely question yourself.
Likewise with DIY (or your hobby), everything is mapped out. There are predictable inputs and outputs. There’s a high degree of control too. You know what to expect. The risks feel low and there are rapid, short-term rewards for your effort.
Yet when it comes to reorienting my business (a process I’m going through at the moment) – that’s another matter. Or reconnecting with your purpose, and expressing your value to your ideal clients.
That’s an enormous unknown.
It’s unpredictable, untested and high-risk. Plus when you begin, the rewards seem so far down the line they may as well be non-existent.
Couple that with our aversion to risk and natural fear of failure. Plus our propensity for avoiding confrontation. And it’s easy to see why we divert our attention onto trivial time-sinks, rather than tackling the big issues in our lives.
So, what if you could hack this behaviour?
I have a theory that it’s possible to borrow motivation and confidence from one part of your life. Then project it into another – an area you’re struggling with.
A little over a year ago I’d never have dared to rewire a consumer unit. Or build a multi-zone heating system. Yet imminently, I’m about to do just that.
How did that happen?
Sure, I researched and learned. I also sought the opinions of experts and asked questions. I built on a hundred other small victories in life that lead me to this point. Like the first time I rewired a plug, then sockets, then consumer units – before we got to now.
But more importantly, I plug the gaps in knowledge and confidence with faith. I tell myself a story while I’m doing these new things. A story of how I conquered similar tasks in the past and loved the process. And how it’ll probably be the same with this new one.
Note: story. There’s a story going on here
I was, at one point, utterly ignorant and somewhat afraid of electrical work. Just like I am now, of rebuilding my business, and locating and approaching my ideal clients.
But with electrical work I took risks. I got burnt, lost money, and messed up. And you know what – the more I did it, the less scared I was.
There are clear parallels here with your own creative journey. You got this far with your business by surmounting all sorts of difficulties along the way. You learned, but you also you accepted you didn’t know everything but you got on in spite of that. By borrowing a little faith and confidence without knowing it.
Moreover, all this talk of heating engineering and electrics no doubt sounds like a foreign language to you (unless you’re a plumber). If you watched me take a wrench to a two-port valve, I may as well be performing magic.
It’s a bit like comparing yourself to other people who are already where you want to be. Those people making a decent living doing what they love. It looks like they’ve been doing it for years, succeeding in a way that you never will.
Though the fact is we’re often just winging it
All of us. We have an idea. We act on it. See what happens. Reflect and repeat.
I suspect what’s driven those successful people onwards is that they remain curious and confident. At least that’s how it is with DIY for me.
They enjoy the process of learning through breaking things. They accept mistakes. And that’s exactly what I intend to do as I build my copywriting coaching business.
Time for a copywriter’s spin on the matter
The trick is to draw parallels. Find a narrative that works in one part of your life. Then tell yourself a similar story in the one you’re struggling with. By story I mean the consistent threads and themes that underpin your journey so far.
Taking on a basement conversion singlehandedly is ambitious by any measure. And yes, it got the better of me. Because I let it dominate my life., instead of seeking balance. But it’s almost complete now, after all the suffering. And I still love DIY.
Likewise. Reorienting your business is a daunting task. And if I don’t find healthy balance it too could become all-consuming. But I know that at some point I’ll get better at it. I’ll normalise to the risk.
Because we’re all adaptable. These are victories I haven’t won yet. But they’re there to be won. And the process of winning (and messing up), is there to be enjoyed.