I am working on a small book right now. It’s easily the best thing I’ve ever done.
The editor is better than I could have ever hoped for. The idea is amazing, and something I care deeply about. It should get good visibility. Everything seems like it’s in line.
This kind of thing never happens to me. It probably rarely happens to you.
So, naturally, I’m paralyzed with fear.
This is how the whole world works. When you’re on auto-pilot, no problem. You’ve done it before, so you recognize every pattern you’re in and there’s no need to worry.
But this also means you’re going the wrong way. You’re getting no new input, so you’re not recognizing any new patterns. If this is the way your life is going, you are actually actually becoming more useless. In an increasingly chaotic world, the best pattern recognizers win.
So the way to have an amazing life is to be constantly fearing failure, but driving forward anyway. It’s difficult to be doing this all the time. You need to pick your battles. Most things need to be stable and allow for safety, so you can focus on these one or two very difficult things.
In other words, your relationship can’t be in shambles while you’re building a business. This is natural, and it’s how the whole world works. You need to have the energy to spend where it matters.
So your whole world should be a cycle of balancing and unbalancing, contraction and growth. Imagine weight lifting. The more stable you are, the heavier you can lift.
I suspect that those who can do many things at once aren’t actually doing anything properly. They commit to numerous ideas and try to deliver on all of them, but none end up exceptional. They’re blogging every day but few ideas are truly interesting or have much of a wide spread.
This is how someone like me can end up not blogging for a month. I focus on one thing and make it happen in the best way possible. Afterwards, I’m drained. I have to do something else– anything else– but worry about delivering new ideas.
So today, for the first time in a long time, I feel kind of free. The project feels 90% done. A great weight is lifted off my shoulders and I have energy to deliver in other places.
If you are not doing your life’s work, you will feel perfectly comfortable. There will be an occasional malaise as you wonder if there’s “more” out there, but you won’t know exactly what to do.
What you need to do is become paralyzed with fear.
If you aren’t paralyzed, you aren’t going far enough. If you don’t feel yourself being avoidant, you’re probably settling. This is normal. Your brain wants you to be safe. Your body is built to procreate and die, not thrive. Naturally, facing pain will feel horrible and unnatural. It can’t be any other way. It feels like a threat, and threats must be stopped.
In order to get anywhere in life, you need to be uncomfortable constantly. You need to have new input and absorb new information or you’re not growing. If you don’t want to grow, it’s because things are fine as they are. You should be conscious and ok with the fact that they won’t change.
So do you want to be bigger? If yes, then you know what you have to do. If no, keep moving along.
Postscript: As I wrote this post, an email came in, and once again I’m paralyzed with fear. I must be on the right track. Back to work.