I knew it would come at some stage; the wobble which always comes soon after I start something new.
My wobbles generally happen shortly after I make a decision and are characterised by self-doubt which causes me to question, or even abandon, the decision I have made. I have come to learn that there is no logic to my wobbles and they happen irrespective of how trivial or serious the decision. I experience a wobble when I start a new job or when I take on a new challenge. I can even experience a wobble after I make a choice on a restaurant menu when I invariably wonder if I should have picked something different. I experienced wobbles when I got married! (Not about the choice of husband of course, but about whether I should have gotten married at all!) I experience wobbles every time I start a new fitness regime or new dietary discipline, to the point of wobbling off track. And now I’m having the wobbles about starting this blogging lark!
I know I’m starting to wobble about blogging because I find myself thinking things like “Why the hell am I doing this?”, “Why didn’t I listen to all the people who told me that writing about something every week was unrealistic?”, “What if people think I’m a fool to be doing this? Worse still, what if I actually AM a fool?!” “What if people don’t like what I write?” My original, positive outlook on blogging is being ambushed from all sides by worries and doubts which make me want to run away.
But Wobble…I have been expecting you and I’m ready for you!
The secret, I find, for dealing with wobbles, is to anticipate them. When I was younger, I pondered over wobble-driven doubts and worries and often let them get into the driving seat and take over. Now I know that the wobble will come and I pre-empt it by being clear on what’s driving my decision. It’s kind of like being on a roller-coaster in those moments when you are making the slow ascent to the top of the ride gathering potential energy, anticipating the dramatic plummet. That’s always a “Why the hell am I doing this?” moment for me! There is no option of getting off a roller-coaster half way through, so I deal with the “why the hell?” moment before I ever get set foot on the ride! I look at the roller-coaster and gauge whether I think the ride is worth that “why the hell” moment or not. If it is, I go on the ride, knowing that there will be moments where I’ll regret it but that overall it will be great fun. If the ride doesn’t look one I’ll enjoy, I steer clear. Why put myself through something I won’t enjoy?
With blogging, I anticipated the wobble and was ready for it. The first step was to be clear with myself about why I was doing this. I gave some of my reasons in my first post, but here’s a more comprehensive list
- I believe in the value of reflection and want to invest time in the process.
- Through my day-job I can see that many people struggle with reflection and I work with a team to encourage and support people with this. This blog is an extension of that work albeit it from a very different angle.
- I enjoy writing but have consistently failed to make the space for it in my schedule. Deadlines work better for me, so a public deadline of a weekly blog helps me to prioritise it.
- I hope that I can evolve my writing style and through blogging perhaps I might receive some critical appraisal on my writing or challenge of my thinking.
- The public aspect of blogging forces me to be more considered in my writing than if I was writing a personal journal.
- I can see that blogging is an important form of communication in our modern world and I want to both understand and participate in it rather than be left behind.
- I have thought about this for years and I am interested to see if I have as much to say as I think I do.
- My Dad has, for years, suggested that I should write a book. This blog allows me to dip a toe in the writing world without the full commitment of a publication (Although, for the record Dad, technically my doctoral thesis is a book. Who said I don’t listen to you?!)
Reminding myself of all the motivating factors helps me to dispel some of the doubts and negative thoughts. It certainly helps answer the question “Why the hell am I doing this?” As for some of the other doubts… well, if people don’t read or like my blogs, that’s fine. They can ignore them. I’m not doing this to accumulate thousands of followers or to rack up the “likes”, so no pressure there. As for the other fears, of being a fool or running out of things to say? Well, in the scheme of things, they are first world problems. In fact, the whole thing is one big first world problem. Who really cares if I stop blogging when I run out of things to say? What difference does it really make? In the context of global issues, does my piddly little blog really matter at all? That’s when I say, “get over yourself Catriona and spare your worry for something that really matters!”
I think most of us experience wobbles. Over the past week, I have talked to several people who have similar experiences about different issues. One friend is making a big life change and can power through the wobbles because of her ambition for what she wants her life to be like. Another friend has started a big project and is wobbling because of the discomfort of the short-term sacrifices which are needed for a much longer-term benefit. Another friend wobbles every time she has to speak at a conference.
Reflect on times when you have wobbled (If you have never experienced a wobble, please use the comment box to tell me how you managed that!).
What strategies have you used that were effective in powering through a wobble? Can you replicate these in the future?
Can you identify reactions that were unhelpful? How can you avoid repeating this behaviour in future?
Finally, what can you learn from reflecting on your past experiences? Are there patterns to your wobbles? Are there things you can do to prevent them?
As for me, the wobble I never seem to be able to power through is the one I have when I see pastries and chocolates which will push me past my weight-watchers point limit. I suspect it’s going to take a bit more than reflection to sort that one out!