Five Reminders That Help Keep Me Focused & Stare Down Doubt

4 Mar

I work hard, but not always smart. My mind does not move in particularly linear ways and I’ve had to learn how to ask the right questions to keep working effectively, or even just to keep working. Combine this lateral thinking with a systemic way of learning and a pefectionist’s eye for detail and you get someone who can waste a lot of time on unrelated or nonessential parts of a project.

Having clear, concise goals goes along way to keeping me focused. But that’s not enough: in order to keep myself on task, I have to deal with those voices that question what I’m doing.  This is especially important if I my goal is an exploratory one, where I have a general direction but not a crystal clear picture of where I’m headed.

A lot of these demons have come up recently, and I was forced to address them. I did this by creating a list of reminders for myself. They are answers and rebuttals to the most common arguments those neurotic little critters in my head throw at me to knock me off track.

The following five reminders give me a weapon with which to fight back, whether I need a swatter to knock out the flies of doubt, or a canon to blast the flying bullshit monkeys out of the sky.

REMEMBER YOUR GOAL: I have a goal, I know what I want, and where I’m headed. My goal is to find the primary way that I want to make my living at storytelling.  I will find this out by trying out different storytelling mediums, starting with the idea that I think is the most likely contender. Think of Twyla Tharp: quote. Move in a direction, not a specific end point.

LEARN TO LOVE EXPLORING: This is the time to explore. I have the money to support myself to  go off the grid.  Exploration works like this: I pick the most likely path, the one that feels right. I test if out with small-scale projects and mid-range goals. I see where it gets me. There will be things I like. Note these and find ways to increase their influence. There will be thing that I don’t like, that feel off. Note these and find ways to eliminate them.

CONCERNS ABOUT MONEY & CAREER: I don’t need to make money at this career right now. I don’t need to know where the possibilities are to make money. In fact, I can’t know until I follow my dream and my heart in pursuit of my goal, putting up exploratory projects that I believe in. Then opportunities will reveal themselves.

REMEMBER YOUR LOVE: I love this creative work. I love writing. I love brainstorming story ideas. I love analyzing other people’s work. I love performing. Repeat this to yourself daily.

FINDING THE RIGHT MEDIUM(S): Right now the medium that most excites me is performance storytelling. I need to follow my excitement and see where it leads. My preference for medium may change or an opportunity may arise in a different medium. I will most likely want and need to work in more than one medium. Keep asking yourself the question: what stories do I want to tell, what projects do I want to work on, what medium do I prefer? But do not think about this too much. And do not let it get in the way of concrete, experiential learning.

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