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Weekend Reads

Fear is real, but conquerable! (Weekend Reads)

February 19, 2016 — by Matt

I think a lot about fear. What if I wasn’t afraid to quit my job or of not having enough money to survive? Does fear affect my ability to finish projects, or take risks? How can I overcome the fear of x, y, or z?

I guess I’m not alone. I’ve stumbled upon a few articles recently that tackle the topic of fear. If you’re dreading the future or you feel like fear is holding you back from being great, use these as reminders that we all face fears, and they’re all surmountable.

I AM AFRAID ALL OF THE TIME

The beginning of this article is almost comforting. Entrepreneur and writer James Altucher lists out a few of his top fears that probably sound strangely familiar to your own. It might be a tactic to disarm the reader and inspire empathy, but dammit it works. I felt better about my own fears after reading it.

The rest of the article launches into techniques James uses to overcome fear. His “themes over goals” sounds a lot like my identity based personal pillars, so you know I’m in. And although a lot of the others seem fairly obvious, they’re still good reminders that we have strategies to squelch our fear and really achieve.

THE THIN LINE BETWEEN STAYING UNCOMFORTABLE AND CREATING FEAR

This 99u article by Stephanie Kaptein identifies the potential problem with the timeless advice of “stepping outside your comfort zone” to gain inspiration – that going too far out of the zone can backfire, making us too afraid to go on. Knowing where the line between motivating discomfort and paralyzing fear lies is important if we want to avoid self-sabotage.

I really like this article. It recognizes that fear is a real thing that can hamstring our resolve and our creative process, rather than ignoring it and believing ourselves to be impervious to its effects. Strategically evaluating where we are in relation to that line is an important self-check that will keep us moving forward.

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Have a great weekend, and keep conquering your fears!

Weekend Reads

Contrarian Ideas about Procrastination (Weekend Reads)

February 12, 2016 — by Matt

This weekend’s reads are all about procrastination. But rather than lambasting the favorite vice of so many of us, these articles take a different approach. I love challenging my own views on things and these articles were refreshing in how they presented procrastination.

PROCRASTINATION CAN BE A GOOD THING

This is an article Austin Kleon included in his most recent newsletter, and it’s an interesting take on procrastination. Author Adam Grant experimented with purposeful procrastination and found that it actually helped his creativity.

I can be a terrible procrastinator. And like most of us, I attribute such negative connotation to procrastination that whenever I do it, I chastise myself mercilessly. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing and the ever-present underlying guilt, maybe it’s my expectations for myself… whatever it is, I feel like shit while I’m procrastinating but I just keep doing it.

Practiced or purposeful procrastination is an interesting idea though. I actually think the value in Grant’s approach is in slow, steady work and not in the procrastination itself – doing nothing for a month and scrambling to finish your work the night before a deadline won’t do anything for creativity.It’s true that when you rush to finish something, you often take the most logical, conventional route. Working more slowly allows you to explore more creative, divergent, non-conventional ideas and approaches.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PROCRASTINATION BUT WERE TOO LAZY TO FIGURE OUT

This article also deals with procrastination, but the contrarian idea found here isn’t necessarily about procrastinating. It comes at the end of the article, and it’s about positive thinking and identity. Here’s a passage from the article:

Chances are you’ve experienced this in some area of your life as well. The more you care about the outcome, the harder it feels to achieve. The less you care, the more naturally it comes to you.

It’s backwards in a way. The more I try to convince myself that I’m a brilliant writer and that I have something important to say, the more the simple act of writing an article threatens my identity, and the more I procrastinate writing it.

Whereas if I just believe that I’m just some random dude who puts words on paper, eventually the act of writing then threatens nothing and procrastination stops.

This is one (of many) ways that positive thinking can actually derail us.

What Mark Manson (who is becoming one of my favorite bloggers) touches on here is very interesting – the idea that building this idealized idea of our identity puts tons of pressure on ourselves, because failing to do what we tell ourselves is inherently in our nature threatens our identity.

I run into this all the time. I start an article or a song and I tell myself it’s going to be amazing – and as such, I won’t let myself just create because if it isn’t perfect, it’ll be a failure. Maybe this flies in the face of my identity-based personal pillars a little bit… or maybe not. I’m not sure yet.

I do know that when we were kids, we didn’t care about what legacy our actions would leave or if it threatened our identity or not because we didn’t really have a premeditated identity – we just did stuff. And I also know that injecting a little bit of that “just do stuff” mentality into our life and work could help a lot of us bust through our self-inflicted roadblocks. I mean, we are what we continually do, right?


Have a great weekend!

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