Stop! Sucking! Day 5: Changing "must" thinking

While I was born into relative privilege, my family's situation was not so plush that not working was ever an option.

Even if it had been financially, it would not have been an option practically. I was raised to be...well, if not a steamroller, at the very least an ox. (Hey! It's my Chinese zodiac sign!)

Sometimes we stop because we've been going a million miles an hour and run slam into a brick wall (cf the rather dramatic onset of my Crohn's disease...or your flu, for that matter.) Sometimes we stop because we run out of time. There are a lot of ways other things can stop us, whether or not we had a silent hand in the engineering of them.

Right now, today, in fact, but really, over the past few months, I've been struggling with stopping one thing (designing) and starting something else (er...TBD.) Part of the difficulty with the D of the TB is that fraud thinking sets in fast when I start considering other options.

In other words, try to imagine myself as a full-time writer, or an author who speaks, or a consultant who does both, and I stop myself cold. There's strong programming in place saying I really have no business stepping outside the family business. Which is advertising. Which, if you hadn't noticed, is well on its way to being defunct, as least as we practiced it when I was in the game. And which, while we're on the subject, I haven't practiced as such in almost 15 years.

On the other hand, I have actually been writing...and speaking...and really, consulting for a good 10 years. Assiduously, for five of those. However, as the Advanced Degree Fairy has not dropped from the sky to anoint me with various Certificates of Excellence in Higher Learning (and is highly unlikely to, that bitch), I continue to feel like a fraud. Even with people coming to me and asking for the help. Even with people offering me money.

Today, I was working on a project and felt myself starting to get angry. I was angry because Quark wasn't working; I was angry because sending files back and forth has, for some reason, become like trying to get secure messages across enemy lines during a firestorm: there's no reliable route and stuff arrives in tatters, if at all. I even thought I was angry because I hated the project or I hated my client, I hated designing, itself. I thought these things only briefly, though, before stopping myself.

I love this project. It's dear to my heart and I'm proud of the work.

I love this client. She's a rare creative visionary, a source of inspiration and encouragement and a dear friend. I'd do much, much more for her.

I even love designing; I just don't love it the way someone who is genius-good at it loves it. I love it like someone whose real genius perhaps lies elsewhere.

Just because I started as a designer-designer doesn't mean I can't morph into an author or consultant or speaker whose world view is influenced by design. I mean, that's my thing, right? I'm the communicatrix!

So when I stopped myself on the downward slide today, I picked up the phone and called a new maybe-client. What we call in the trade a "follow-up call." Or, what I call, "those calls I don't make, right after I don't make the cold calls." Turns out he's a for-sure client. And instead of stopping, he's all fired up about going.

And I? I did not stop him.

Way to go, communicatrix.

xxx c

Image by alber via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.