Over the last five years or so I have had three or four ideas that I thought would make for a good book. Each time I started putting pen to paper on one of those ideas, (actually it was really fingers to keyboard :) ) I would get frustrated at the writing process and stop. The excuses for stopping included, but were not limited to: it's to hard, I am not a good enough writer, my grammar skills stink, no one will want to read this, this idea is stupid, I am stupid for thinking up this stupid idea... and the list keeps going and going and going, kind of like the Energizer Bunny. (I am on a roll with clever jokes today)!!!
This particular book I began writing about two years ago and have worked on it whenever I would have a creative burst or would find myself in the right emotional frame of mind. As with the other books, as well as many other great ideas I have had in the past, I made up countless excuses as to why I should quit, why I should give up on writing the book. The thing that kept me accountable to finishing it: I made sure to put it on the 1000 Challenge list - "Jesse, finish your book, don't let fear and excuses hold you back."
The last couple weeks I have been working on it for hours each day, so much so that my eyes hurt from staring at the computer and my neck has formed a gigantic "computer knot" as I like to call it.
The last five days have been a mix of emotions as I grew closer and closer to completing it. First there was Anxiety to the point I felt like I was going to throw up - why? This book, and the website that it will go with, were created from a part of my life that very few people know about.
The website is one I created nearly four years ago and have always operated it as an alias. The sites sole purpose has been to help people and I know it has based on the 100's of emails I have received from it over the years. I know people value it, so why the anxiety? Fear. Plain and simply fear. Fear of putting myself out there, fear of what people will think of me when they know that the alias on the site, Michael, is really me. Fear that it will lose its impact and ability to help. Fear that my book is not good enough, is not well written enough, that no one will want to read it, that those who do read it will think it is stupid, that it is not... you can re-read all the "excuses" above.
After I made it through the anxiety, I started to cry randomly as I would type. I cried as I could remember back to the how I felt at the time I created the website. I cried as I reflected on how far I had come and how much I have grown since I made the site. I cried over the fact that I was actually seeing something major to completion. The fact that I stuck with an undertaking as challenging as a book and saw it to completion - that realization made me cry.
As the tears subsided I started to feel a sense of pride. A sense of pride that caused a smile to spread from ear to ear. A feeling of, "wow if I can do this, if I can do something that is so challenging for me to complete, what else am I capable of?" A sense of pride that I could channel a very painful experience in my life and turn it into something positive and something I really believe, with all my heart, can and will help a lot of people.
Tuesday, September 27th 2011, around 2pm, I typed the final sentence and sent it off to have it put in the digital format that it will be available in as soon as I finish updating the website it will go with.
Then I felt sad. I had just completed this major lifetime achievement and wanted to celebrate it, but with who? Since I have kept it secret from virtually all my friends, most of them do not even know about the existence of the site and that I was writing a book. There are a few who know about it, but are out of town. The few that are in town I didn't call because I didn't know how to say, "hey, I just finished my book and want to celebrate, would you like to join?"
It's funny, but this was the thought process that was running through my mind and I share it with you because I think it is something we all do to often... we do not share, let alone celebrate our achievements. As a result, I believe we achieve less and less of what we are capable of because we do not value the internal reward at the end. That reward of feeling good and letting others share in and celebrate this feeling.
Does any of this make sense? I think all of us, myself included, are very very quick to dish out high fives and good jobs to friends, to family, to total strangers, but when it comes to a self high five and a pat on our own back's, it's hard... why?
Why is it so hard for us to celebrate our achievements? Why is it so hard for us to be proud of our successes? And does this behavior hold us back from succeeding and achieving at our greatest potential?
HELL YES IT DOES!!!
We do not celebrate and share our achievements because we do not want to be perceived as being arrogant. We do not share with others what we want to do because we fear what they may think of us. We keep our successes hidden because we fear like we may sound like we are bragging and none of us want to be "that person." We hold off on achieving goals and sharing them with people because we are so afraid of failing and having to face people if we fail. This fear is so great that we would rather keep our hopes and dreams silently locked up inside of us where they can remain unrealized along with all the other hopes and dreams.
It is sad. And the above is a big part of the reason why I was sad at the completion of my achievement. I do the above just as much as everyone else. And as much as I fear all the "reasons/excuses" as to why I do it, I tell you what, the sadness and the honest acknowledgement that my fear keeps me from achieving my best is a much scarier realization. I would rather share my goals, my dreams, my successes and face the "what do other people think" fear and the possibility of failure, than to live another day allowing the fear to keep me from achieving my best.
So with that in mind, I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge some of you who have written in recently and shared some of your successes with me. I love reading about what all of you are accomplishing. Reading about the successes of the members of the 1000 Challenge Community inspires me in more ways than I will ever be able to articulate here. I am so proud of each and everyone of you. I wish you all could see the smile on my face when I read an email about a fear you have faced. I wish you all could feel how proud I feel of you each time I read an email about you achieving a goal.
The accomplishment of a goal, no matter how big or small, is something to be acknowledged, is something to be celebrated. The following are some of your achievements taken at random from a handful of the emails I have received in the last month... sharing them with you all here is my way of celebrating with you :)
" I'm thinking different about things that use to scare me, like horse back riding. The last few days my neighbors horses have been right outside my house, and the first day I thought, yes they are BIG!! the second day i though, They are very beautiful. The third day I thought -it would be very cool if I conquered my fear and went for a ride."
"Due to a recent financial rut, I had allowed myself to fall into the mindset that all I could "afford" to do was sit around the house doing essentially nothing. Hiking is something I have always loved doing, yet for some reason I've stopped the past few months. It was a great reminder that there are plenty of things I love to do that don't cost anything. It's only about a 45 minute drive to Lake Tahoe, I've been there at sunset plenty of times, but I think that was the first time I've ever really paid attention to it. The whole thing has made me realize while it's easy to waste my energy worrying about what I can and can't afford, the only thing I really can't afford is to let life pass me by."
"I have had some pretty dark days in the past several years that I don't ever care to relive. This year that has all turned around... I'm so very thankful, and I am trying to live that gratitude by putting to practice daily the things I've learned from you this year.