We’re a few weeks into 2023 now, and by this point most people have either fully committed to their resolutions or have already fallen short of their lofty “new year, new me” goals. I got smart this year and didn’t even bother to set one. Not that I didn’t set myself a TON of goals I want to reach—but I learned long ago that the concept of “I’m starting at that future date, and it’ll be a new year/season/month/week” doesn’t work. (More on that later.)
Every year for the past 3 years, I’ve noticed an overarching trend for the year that I’ve been able to claim as my personal theme. 2020 was my “year of health.” 2021 was my “year of social cleansing.” 2022 was my “year of reckoning.” This year, I knew the theme a full month before it got here. At the beginning of December I proclaimed 2023 my “year of no fear.”
Things I’m usually afraid of
Ironically, it’s quite terrifying. I’m trying not to let myself feel it too much as I work my way through the steps and challenges necessary to reach my goals. But one of the biggest things that has always held me back is fear. Here are a few things I’m usually afraid of, in no specific order, in any given situation. Let me know in the comments if you feel some of these, too.
- other people’s opinions of me
- other people’s opinions of my writing/content/lifestyle
- missing deadlines
- disappointing people
- being wrong
- being right
- being in the spotlight (cancel culture is a scary thing)
- being out of the spotlight (please don’t forget about me)
- running out of content
- taking too long to produce anything valuable
- rushing and producing something worthless
- wasting my life fighting to work on something I don’t care about
As you can clearly see, I’m neurotic and a bit self-obsessed. (I like to call it self-care, and it probably is.) But all these fears get in my way. They stop me from living up to my full potential—in other words, I’ll never be happy until I can let go of all this shit. And I use that word with love. It’s all shit.
I love writing. Short stories, novels, flash fiction, poetry, all of it. I love bringing stories to life and meeting new (fictional) people. I enjoy blogging and sharing my life and knowledge and mistakes with the world. And like anyone, I want to profit off these things while still fully enjoying them. Hence, these are my goals.
They say you’re not supposed to tell people about your goals. You’re supposed to quietly work on them so no one can question you or rush you or judge you or whatever. But I think I’ve made it pretty damn clear in my actions over the past month and a half that I’m not afraid of that anymore. I want these things. I’m going to have them, period.
How to reach your goals
The trick is to start now. Today. This hour. This moment. I can’t even count the TedTalks and life coaching books I’ve worked my way through that all say the same thing: if you keep saying you’ll start “later,” you’re giving yourself permission to NOT start now. To delay. To talk yourself out of it. To cheat. To mess up. To fail awhile longer. If you want it and you’re committed to it, what’s holding you back? If you aren’t willing to do it now, to give it 100%, there’s a really really good chance that you’ll never do it fully. You’ll always be stuck in that cycle. If you’re struggling THAT hard with starting RIGHT NOW, then you need to ask yourself if you actually want your goals. Not just want—NEED. With that need fire in your soul.
And once you DO get started, don’t give up. Did you know it’s a proven fact that people who give up never reach their goals? (Lol it’s a trick sentence, just like “It’s always in the last place you look.” Of course it is. Once you find it, you stop looking. Well once you give up on your goals, you can’t reach them.) If you’re always trying, then it’s no longer a matter of “if” you’ll reach your goals; it’s all about “when” you’ll reach them. Isn’t that motivating?!
If you mess up along the way, that’s okay. We all fall down sometimes when we’re running (and geniuses like me manage it when we’re walking, too, or even when we’re basically standing still…but I digress). Falling down isn’t a game ender. It’s a moment to pause, breathe, dust off, look at where you are, and start moving again. My friend showed me this article once (and I’m paraphrasing here, because I don’t remember it exactly) that said if your car gets a flat tire, you don’t total the whole car. You change the tire and keep driving. It’s like that. But you’re driving your goals.
What I’m doing about it
I started writing. I dusted off my old Chromebook and picked up a story idea I started yeeeeears ago. I reworked the plot, added characters, and just started writing. I can’t even begin to tell you how HARD it is to let the words flow and not look back and worry about whether they’re good or not. “No fear” means no editing along the way. Get the idea out, THEN go back and clean it up. It’s how literally every other hobby in the world is performed; writing is no different.
I started blogging. I created a website for my passion project, CraftTea Witch, designed it, and got 3 posts written (with new posts scheduled for every Wednesday). “No fear” means no one can tell me I’m “living wrong” or “feeling wrong” or “believing wrong,” because it’s MY life.
I got this site cleaned up and reorganized, too. Last year I moved all my writing and editing articles over to The Writer Scrolls (the blog at Kingsman Editing Services) because I felt like a fraud giving people advice on how to be a better writer when I had yet to produce a full novel (publicly) myself. But there is something I have always loved being able to offer other writers, and that is inspiration. “No fear” means sharing all the muse-worthy prompts and ideas I have to offer and not feeling worthless. This week, I got a whole section of the site set up for that. I call it, Free muses!
Lastly, I started crafting. There are so many amazing and wonderful things I’ve learned how to make over the years and I want to be able to share them with the world. “No fear” means understanding that I’m creating a product—not everyone will like it or want it, and that’s okay. I think of all the times I’ve walked down the aisle at the grocery store, looked at a box of off-brand cookies, and said, “Nah, I don’t want that.” That is not a personal judgment against that brand or product, it just means it isn’t right for me. Everything I create will go through that “do I want this?” moment with everyone who picks it up, and it’s totally okay if my products aren’t for everyone. The people who DO want them will love them.
But sometimes there are physical obstacles…
I hear you. Money is a big factor in chasing a lot of goals, and not having the right equipment can slooooooow us down. It’s pretty demotivating. I’m sitting at one such obstacle myself right now—in order to launch my line of handcrafted tea blends, I need more ingredients. Which cost money. My printer is messing up, so I’ll need a new one to print my labels. Which is expensive. Did I mention I’m, like, perpetually broke? Yeah. The struggle is real. It’s even harder when I see someone I know dropping thousands of dollars to get their own business started, and I’m sitting here trying to scrape together an extra $50.
It’s easy to get into the mindset of, “Well, why should I start now? I have to wait until I can afford it. THEN I’ll really start.” Please don’t let yourself do that. Because guess what? If you put off doing ANYTHING until the money is there, then once you do have the money…you won’t want to invest in yourself and your dreams. Because at that point, you still haven’t even invested your two free resources: TIME and PASSION. You didn’t make it a priority. There is a big difference between waiting for the next step and doing nothing at all.
When you find yourself hitting a physical delay, look to other avenues. There is almost always something else you can be working on in the moment until you’re able to get what you need. For instance, here I am writing this post to you now, because it’s something I can do from my phone in draft mode while I wait for my daughter to finish cheer practice. Not being at a computer is a physical delay for me. But there are things I can do in other ways to keep my momentum up. This could mean working on your social media presence, drafting an article/post, writing out the ideas in your head, designing a website, etc. There are always options.
I like the cookie
There’s a scene from the animated movie Over the Hedge where this quick-witted and selfish raccoon, RJ, tricks Hammy the Squirrel into doing what he wants by enticing him with a cookie. RJ gets it all up in Hammy’s face so he can smell the chocolatey chunks and sugary baked goodness, and he can see the crispy yet gooey texture within tasting distance…and then RJ throws the cookie over the hedge and calls it junk. He knows where there’s something BETTER. Hammy sits there with the most disappointed look on his face and says in almost a whisper, “But I like the cookie.”
Well, I’m Hammy in this instance. My goals, they’re the cookie. I want the cookie, I can smell the cookie, I can TASTE THE COOKIE—but my selfish fear wants to throw it out of reach and direct me elsewhere, where I’m likely to only get in trouble and end up with no cookies at all. I know better. Squirrels have long been my spirit animal, for better or for worse, and damn it I’m getting my cookie! Are you getting YOUR cookie?