I finally did it. I called up the local zoo, to set up an interview, and tour the zoos new facility. I was ready to write my first travel piece, but then life happened. On the day, my phone started ringing off the hook. My other clients required my help for all manner of “important” tasks, my son needed to be dropped off at my parents, and I had another important meeting that I could not miss at 4:30. As the time on the clock drained away, I knew it was not going to happen. So I called and canceled the interview. I fell flat when it came to my goal. I withdrew my first foray into the world of travel writing, canceled an appointment, and accidentally missed my son’s speech therapy. So 4 days into the new year and I slammed into my first pile of hurdles.
Screwing up isn’t fun. Admitting it to people is even less so. I could throw my hands up and say, “You know, I guess this year will be more of the same.” Shrug my shoulders, give up, and go on my merry way. Even typing that, I realize how ridiculous it sounds, but we do it to ourselves all the time. We hit our first problem patch and give up. I was really disheartened that I completely spaced on an appointment, and had to cancel another. Especially one that was supposed to be my first big step towards travel writing. It is disheartening and fuel for all the negative dialog in my head. The old dialog crept in, and I did not even notice. What are you thinking, no one will want to read your stories? They will certainly know you are a newbie. You are too fat and slow to do this. Yes, it goes on and on. What is your internal negative dialog? Times like this it is good to write it down. Make a two column table. In column one write your inner dialog, in column two write a more reasonable and positive version to replace the original statement.
Statement #1 No one will read my work.
Statement #1a Every piece I write brings me closer to the one that gets published.
Statement #2 They will certainly know I am a newbie.
Statement #2a Everybody has to start somewhere. As long as you keep part of yourself in the article, keep trying, keep learning, someone will take notice.
Statement #3 You are too fat and slow to do this.
Statement #3a Some days my fibromyalgia gets the better of me, but there are plenty of days I am on point.
The more you do it, the easier it will become. As you start to replace that old dialogue, with the realistic dialogue, you will begin to realize just how cruel, dramatic and unrelenting that way of thinking had become. Once you question those false truths, they start to lose their power over you.
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new
Now that the day is finished, I sit here, and I try to figure out what happened. I was up late that night, writing up questions for the interview. So I slept in later the next morning. I did not check my schedule, because the daily schedule felt seared in my brain. If I had, I would have remembered my son’s therapy. I did review my program later in the day, and I also realized my son’s pre-op visit with his surgeon was coming up next week, and I still needed to get a second opinion. So I spent the next 45 minutes moving and scheduling appointments. The final defeat was having to cancel my interview. I kept hoping I could still do it until the bitter end. So what did I do wrong? What can I learn from this?
Be humble to see your mistakes, courageous to admit them, a wise enough to correct them
My first problem was not following my own advice regarding planning and organizing. I tried to wing it because I am still getting organized. The official end of my holiday break was not until Monday. I was aiming for Monday to be my “launch” day of the new and improved system. The second problem is that my confidence was wavering regarding my ability to pull off an interview. At one point I suddenly came to the conclusion that I needed a voice recorder, and I was convinced I would look unprofessional if I arrived without one. Now do journalist even use those anymore? I have no idea. What was clear is that I was not only battling time but battling myself as well. These hiccups could have been anticipated. After all, I have faced them many times before. During these times, instead of beating yourself up, it is time to pick yourself up, regroup, and start again.
I would like to say that following this rocky start the middle of January went well, but I am still not completely organized. I have had clients pack on extra work during my busiest time of the year, so I fell back into old habits. I am putting out fires and doing the best I can, but this is not a good system. I want to be better, and I now expect more of myself. I have decided that until this crunch is over, I won’t be able to make many changes. So I am plowing through the work, and planning for a more structured start to my February. You have to remain flexible. I didn’t start the year the way I wanted, but every day is still the beginning of a new chapter. You can only lose, by giving up.