So I realize that that title of this post isn't as uplifting or encouraging as "5 Easy Steps to Crush All of Your Goals This Year!" or something like that, but I've had something on my heart recently that I've sort of felt compelled to share. I always feel like these posts come out kind of raw and unrefined, so bear with me through that, but I hope that sharing my own experience might help others and resonate in their lives as well.
You see, for quite a while now-- I'd say over a year-- something has felt kind of "off" for me when it comes to blogging. I used to love it. I would look forward to doing the projects, writing the posts, interacting with people on social media... but I just wasn't feeling that way anymore, and I couldn't figure out why.
I wanted to still love it, but no matter how hard I tried or how many times I tried to change direction, I still felt this dread and lack of focus for most of the time I was doing blogging tasks. (And that is a good percentage of my time, so it wasn't very fun!)
For over a year I have tried to get out of this "slump." I thought that maybe I was burnt out. I tend to work a lot of hours and have for the 5 years I've had the blog, so maybe I was just tired. So I tried to rest and take some time off.
I thought maybe I was bored. Doing the same types of tasks day after day, year after year can make that happen, right? So we tried to switch it up. We started doing more videos and homed in on organization, which has always been my favorite topic to write/talk about. But still, that "off" feeling didn't go away.
I thought that maybe I just didn't have "it" anymore. Maybe after 5 years of blogging, I was out of ideas and didn't have anything else to say.
But no matter what I tried or changed or adjusted, I couldn't kick this "icky" feeling. It was really starting to worry me because blogging is what Donnie and I do as our full time jobs. I knew I couldn't go on feeling this way about blogging forever, but I also knew that if we weren't going to blog, we were going to have to make some other major changes when it came to jobs and employment, and I didn't know that I wanted that either.
Then one day recently I sat down to write a blog post. The words wouldn't come again, and I found myself feeling completely frustrated again. I vented to Donnie that I felt like giving up completely... and then the root of allllllll of these negative feelings and frustrations over the past year+ finally hit me.
It was fear.
Fear that my posts weren't going to be good enough or creative enough or helpful enough. Fear that someone was going to say something mean about my post or video. Fear that someone else was doing the same things that I was but doing it better. Fear that I don't have anything helpful to offer. Fear that I'm not smart enough to make this whole blogging/business thing work. Fear that I was going to put something out there and that it was going to flop. Fear after fear after fear after fear.
And it was paralyzing me.
Sometimes fear is obvious. I get butterflies in my stomach about a certain situation, I feel tense, I think about and worry about the situation all the time. I know exactly what is scaring me and how I'm reacting to that fear.
Other times, though, fear is more sneaky. As it has for me this past year, it manifests itself in different ways. Self doubt. Frustration. Inaction. Comparison. (This is a BIG one for me. Comparison can make me feel inadequate, which translates into fear of not being good enough. I fall into this trap way too much!) I think sometimes I even use busy-ness to mask my fear, using the excuse that I don't have time to do something when really I'm afraid to do it, so I put it off.
The thing that's crazy about this sneakier type of fear is that because I rely so much on my feelings and my feelings kept telling me "No, no, no! Run the other direction!" when it came to blogging, I came close to giving it up, to quitting altogether. And based on everything that has happened to get us to this point, I don't think that would have been the right move.
But this fear thing doesn't just happen with blogging. This sneaky type of fear has the ability to cause us to abandon good things, things we love, things that we've even been called to do. I think fear is THE thing that can keep us from reaching our biggest and most important goals, whatever they may be. It causes us to lie to ourselves, either telling ourselves that we don't really want to do something or that we aren't capable of doing it. Our self-preservation instincts kick in, and we end up running in the other direction. We even sabotage ourselves and get in the way of our own success because of fear. (Or at least I do. Maybe I'm the only one who does this?!)
I wish I had some simple formula for banishing fear once and for all, but unfortunately, I don't think that it is going away anytime soon. There will always be things that are hard and intimidating and that we need to push through. Facing those fears, having to tackle them head on even when we're scared out of our minds, is something that we'll have to do again and again and again if we want to continue to learn and grow as people.
But I have found that at least for me, it has helped to recognize that all of the doubts and uneasiness have had their root in fear. Because now that I've identified it, I feel like I can more easily identify the lies that I've been telling myself.
When I find myself thinking, "You're not good enough," a lot of that is coming out of fear and insecurity, not necessarily out of an accurate view of what I'm capable of.
When I find myself thinking, "You're not smart enough to do this," many times it's because I have a fear of failing, and I actually do have the ability to figure it out. (Even if it's not perfect right away!)
When I find myself thinking, "This is too hard. It requires too much work," it's often because it's a big step that I'm afraid to take, not really because I'm unable to complete the task.
Since I'm stubborn, realizing that fear is the thing that's holding me back fuels me to want to overcome it, to prove to myself that I can do it. I also know that when I push past the fear and do the thing anyway (whatever "the thing" may be at that moment), a tremendous sense of accomplishment results. I take a big leap toward that goal that I had set for myself, simply because I wouldn't let fear get in the way. And that is an incredible feeling.
At this time of year when we're making resolutions and setting goals and figuring out how to make 2018 our "best year yet," my challenge to you (and let's be honest, mostly to myself!) is not to let fear hold us back from all of those things that we are so capable of and so desperately want to accomplish.
You are enough. You are capable. It might not turn out exactly like you had envisioned, but it could be even better than anything you ever could have asked for or imagined.
I think that one of the fears that has crept up on me over the years has been sharing my faith on the blog. I worry that I might offend someone or that I might represent God or the scriptures wrongly or state something inaccurately. But I couldn't end this post without adding this: I am a firm believer that God orchestrates our path and guides our steps according to His purposes so that He can use us to carry out His will. (Which, I have learned over the years, is always much wiser and better than mine, as much as I might try to fight it. 😉 )
As I've had my recent epiphany about fear, this verse from 2 Timothy 1:7 keeps playing over and over in my head: "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." If God wants to use us for His purposes, He will equip us for that, so though we might feel intimidated, we really have no need to fear. In fact, we can have even more confidence because His will always succeeds. I don't think this means that we're always going to get what we want or that we'll automatically meet every goal that we set for ourselves. But I do think that God wants His very best for us and that we can have tremendous hope and joy in that!
So I apologize if this was a bit of a ramble today. But sometimes the words just spill out, and however un-eloquent they may be, it felt like something that needed to be said. I hope that no matter what has happened in 2017 or in previous years to plant any little seeds of fear in you, that 2018 will be the year where we can start to say a big, loud "NO!" to all of those lies that our fear tries to tell us, that we can overcome those hesitations and insecurities, and that we can boldly pursue the goals and callings we set out to pursue.
Yes, it might be a bit scary, but I am so excited about the possibilities that could arise from a year of "punching fear in the face" (for lack of a better phrase) and passionately chasing those things that we have been created to do. Happy 2018!!!