Excellent But Not Enough

Don’t limit your way of thinking to “this is the way it is, this is the way it has to be.” Challenge your mind to be open to possibility. By Madeline Johnson

The title of this post is from a phrase created by Edward de Bono, a very creative thinker who has impacted many, many people. I like it because it reminds me that while we can generate many great ideas, ideas that are actually excellent; we should never limit our thinking. We must remain open to the possibilities of life, for they are infinite.

I am interested in developing new ideas, not only for myself, but to also help solve the challenges of the world. I enjoy opening my mind and practicing the process of creative thinking.

The purpose of creativity is to change, to make things better, which is the mission of this blog and my life.

To make things better, one begins by opening one’s mind up to new solutions. Don’t limit your way of thinking to “this is the way it is, this is the way it has to be.” Challenge your mind to consider the possibilities.

The next time you are in conflict with another, when you are arguing –  make an attempt to move past being “right”.  To be “right” is okay but it is not enough.

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If you are simply trying to prove another person wrong – then you have lost the fight. An argument should aim to open the conversation to new possibilities. 

Start with an effort to understand rather than argue and attack.

Open things up, rather than close things down.

Sometimes the situation is only a problem because it is looked at in a certain way. Looked at in another way, the right course of action may be so obvious that the problem no longer exists. 

-Edward De Bono

Edward de Bono is one of the pioneers of Brain Training. In 1967 he invented the world famous Lateral Thinking technique. He is a proponent of the direct teaching of thinking as a skill. He has dedicated his life to help people from around the world improve their thinking abilities and creativity skills.

Instead of simply judging and fulfilling your need to be right – perhaps you should attempt to improve your thinking by elaborating around the possibilities of what could be.

Read: Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

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Featured Artist

Ellen Jewett

Each sculpture is handmade and painted with no more tools than fingers and a paint brush. By virtue of this primal process, each creation is completely unique and produced in a fluid and intuitive manner.

Follow @ellenjewett on Instagram

Unapologetically You

There is only one decision for you to make today. Do what is true and meaningful for you. By Madeline Johnson

To be unapologetically you – at your best –

gloriously flawed.

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It’s crazy how many people inspire others just by the way they live their lives. They don’t preach, they don’t coach, they just live their lives the way they see fit  – and through that act – they become an inspiration for others.

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There is only one decision for you to make today. Do what is true and meaningful for you. Time is running out. So get to it before you let someone else decide for you.

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Welcome this brand new day.

Use it as you will.

Waste it or fill it with goodness.

You have a choice.

Tomorrow it will be a memory.

Let it be a sweet one for all.

 

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Featured Artist

Stefano Bonazzi

 

Not Knowing, Always Growing

Continue to build trust in your intuition, but let your life unfold from truth, not from fear. By Madeline Johnson

I’m letting go of my tendency to make assumptions about my life because they lead to nightmares, fairytales and made up scenarios that form my future. I don’t have a crystal ball and I am not psychic.  I continue to build trust in my intuition, but I want my life to unfold from truth, not from fear.

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I believe the practice of remaining curious and open minded will serve me well.

Learn, grow, evolve.

It’s okay not to know.

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Today is the first day of a deep dive into knowing myself better.

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What am I so-so at?
  3. What am I bad at?
  4. What makes me tired?
  5. What is the most important thing in my life?
  6. Who are the most important people in my life?
  7. How much sleep do I need?
  8. What stresses me out?
  9. What relaxes me?
  10. What’s my definition of success?
  11. What type of worker am I?
  12. How do I want others to see me?
  13. What makes me sad?
  14. What makes me happy?
  15. What makes me angry?
  16. What type of person do I want to be?
  17. What type of friend do I want to be?
  18. What do I think about myself?
  19. What things do I value in life?
  20. What makes me afraid?

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What am I happy about in my life now? …

What am I excited about in my life now? …

What am I proud about in my life now? …

What am I grateful about in my life now? …

What am I enjoying in my life right now?

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Read 

Darius Foroux process for self awareness

Featured Artist  

Mariano Peccinetti

What Makes Life Easier

When you’re clear on your intention you take inspired action that is in alignment with your words and truth. By Madeline Johnson

What makes life easier is setting your intention for everything you do. This one simple habit will increase the probability of things going your way today and who doesn’t want more of that?

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When you’re clear on your intention you take inspired action that is in alignment with your words and truth.

When you intend for everything to go well, you don’t have to try as hard.

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Before you begin today, set your intentions.

I intend to remain grateful today.

I intend to have a productive day at work.

I intend to show my  husband,  brother, daughters and friends how much I love them.

I intend to laugh at myself more throughout the day.

 

What are your intentions for the day? 

 

Featured Artwork

@circlecirclemath

 

Under the Gun Thinking

If you’re in a hurry, you’re also more likely to fall prey to other biases.  Avoid the rush to solve bias by slowing down decisions whenever possible. By Madeline Johnson

The player who is “under the gun” in poker is at at a disadvantage due to their position. The under the gun player is the first to act in the first round of betting, which means that every single one of the other players at the table will act after them. To be under the gun is to be under pressure. Too often we over estimate the sense of urgency – the pressure involved to make decisions in our lives. So often we put ourselves under the gun when we don’t need to do so.

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Sometimes we make decisions because we just don’t want to deal with the problem any longer.  So we make sloppy decisions.

Don’t apply unnecessary pressure. Fortunately, we have the time to think things through. Most decisions don’t need to be decided right now.  Remove the pressure.

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If we desire to make better decisions we must ward off the rush to solve bias.

If you’re in a hurry, you’re also more likely to fall prey to other biases.  Avoid the rush to solve bias by slowing down decisions whenever possible. Awareness is the first step to improving quality of judgment.

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It’s difficult to make smart, creative decisions when we are under the gun, when we apply unnecessary pressure. Most of the decisions we make are controlled by our mental shortcuts known as cognitive biases.  A brain under real pressure needs cognitive biases to help drum up a good idea as quickly as it can.  These biases are built into our brains to protect us from failure yet unfortunately they also hold us back from thinking of new and better ways of our solving problems. They block us from seeing solutions creatively.

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Our minds are so tricky. Our brains wired to scan for potential threats. Sometimes, even when we aren’t under pressure we spend time worrying about what might happen in the future. When we contemplate about what might happen to us, when we spend time in our own minds, guessing about what might occur, we tend to bring along unrealistic thinking and perhaps even fear to help protect us.

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Trying What is New and Unknown

Our ambiguity bias keeps us from embracing change in our lives because we fear unknown outcomes and we tend to favor that which we already know. We mistakenly choose to think about the tried and tested instead of the new and novel. This leads to doing the same things over and over, expecting different results.

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What You Want vs. What You Worry About

As you take action and make decisions today, try to overcome your biases and tie your “to do’s” to what you desire for tomorrow. For everything you do today will have an impact on the rewards you reap in the future.  Apply just a little more thought and intention, a little more time and a little less pressure to thinking about what you want to happen instead of what you worry might happen.

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Read  Mini Habits

A printable version of the Cognitive Bias Codex here.

Featured Artwork

The award-winning Illustrator and Art Director, Mario Sánchez Nevado, runs the Madrid-based studio Aégis Illustration, creating artwork and designs for bands and publishing houses all over the world.Part magical storyteller, and part sobering messenger of society’s ills, Mario’s work compels a deeper consideration of the world around us.

Why We Don’t Get What We Want

Mental clarity can come in all shapes and forms and it will definitely happen to you when you work to know yourself better. By Madeline Johnson

Oh for the saving grace of chaos and confusion in our lives.  While I believe it can drive us mad, we should embrace feeling overwhelmed and confused. Yes we want this, but we need that. We are pulled in so many directions. Yes it can be daunting and emotionally draining, but if we strive to understand the cause for our confusion we can better understand what motivates us in the first place. Yes, I mean connecting our two minds, our hearts and our thoughts. I believe that even our most anxious emotions can drive us to clarity, if we take a moment to reflect.

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Please understand, the type of mental clarity I am describing here is the overall sensation that you are on the right path, you are not questioning every little thing you do and in some way, shape or form, you are getting what you both need and want.

You are focused on what is important to you throughout your day and you don’t have that existential angst pulling you in a downward spiral of depressing confusion.

You know why you are doing what you are doing and even though you may not have a detailed map on how to get to your desired goal, you have the emotional drive and you persevere.

Mental clarity can come in all shapes and forms and it will definitely happen to you when you work to know yourself better. Mental clarity kicks in when you are aware of what you like, what you don’t like, what you will tolerate from yourself and others and what you won’t. This understanding of what it takes for us to operate at full capacity, helps us find the tools we need for the tasks at hand and eliminate what doesn’t serve us well.

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It helps to spend some time with yourself to better understand what lights you up and what brings you down. What turns you on and what dims your soul.

Needs vs Wants

Necessity is the ultimate motivator for mental clarity.  It’s amazing how focused we can get about what we are required to do, as opposed to what we would like to do. Clarity becomes crystalized when we better understand if something is a need vs a want.

Read: Ray Dalio’s  Principles

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Knowing what we should do with our lives, getting really clear on the next step can also be driven by guilt and obligation.  Mental clarity can come from simply doing the right thing, because we must. Clarity comes from turning to our inner moral compass.

I’ll explain.

I decided I will take time out of my day to care of my aging parents because they brought me into this world and they provided for me for many years. I love them and I am obliged to give back to them and help them.  The intention is clear. No questions asked.

I need to work in order to pay the bills makes it very clear. I must get a job. Find some work. Make money. I don’t want to be a burden on my family. My purpose is put in place because it is essential. There is nothing murky about this.

I am posting one article a day to Undisputed Origin because I have committed myself to learning something new about myself every single day. No questions asked. This writing that I do, this creative activity in turn will help me become stronger, smarter and more of a benefit to the world.

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I want to _________ (fill in the blank ie. start a business, create a blog, travel around the world, learn to sing, etc).  Wants, wishes and desires may be more soul-fulfilling, but not a must.  They are not necessary, so sometimes you just don’t start.  These “goals” lay by the wayside.

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Question: Can you turn a want into a must?

I challenge you to think about why you do the things you must do. Like going to work, raising your children, volunteering to help others, etc. You do them because they matter to you in a big way. They are essential to your existence. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. If you don’t bother to connect with others you will be lonely. If you don’t take care of your health, you will eventually get sick.

Your wants (losing weight, finding a mate, starting a business, living a more adventurous life) must be essential to your life. They must be extremely important and vital to your existence.

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What wants are you looking to turn into musts in your life?

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

Featured Art

Kamalky Laureano paints portraits and landscapes that look like photography.

Kamalky Laureano is a hyperrealist painter from the Dominican Republic, born in 1983. Living in Mexico City since 2006, he has made his life and work in that country. His work has been shown in Italy, Argentina, France, Mexico, the United States and the Dominican Republic.

 

 

Blazing A Trail

Clarity + patience + humility = victory by Madeline Johnson

“Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going”

~ Stephen Covey

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Single-minded focus + patience + humility =

victory

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Clarity gives you energy, a direction, a plan and courage. Before you begin get very, very, very clear on what you need and what you want first. Then hit the peddle.

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Being humble does not, in any way, equate to being a pushover or a doormat. One can be kind and still be immensely effective and powerful.  To be humble is to lay your ego to rest and to become comfortable in your humanness.

“To live fully is to always be in “no-man’s land”, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” Read Pema Chodron’s When Thing’s Fall Apart

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Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. Read MoreThe Benefits of Being a Patient Person

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Featured Artwork

Nicole Watt is an internationally exhibited self-taught mixed media sculpture artist living and creating in the wilderness of Southern Tasmania, Australia.  Her exquisitely simplistic and emotionally driven characters blossom from a world long forgotten; a world hidden in the shadows of imagination where the wind blows wild, the trees groan with ancient secrets born from the whispers of the ancestors.

Supersize Your Purpose

Damn truth is . . .

you and I are going to die. It is inevitable. You know that. You just don’t know when. Every single thing will be taken from you. You will leave behind your possessions, your loved ones, and all your hopes and dreams for this life. You’ll be taken right out of where you are. You’ll no longer be able to fill the roles you were so busy playing. Death changes everything in a flash. That’s the reality of the situation. If all these things can be changed in an instant, then maybe they aren’t real after all. Maybe you’d better check out who you are. Maybe you should look deeper.

A passage from The Untethered Soulthe journey beyond yourself by Michael A. Singer

Death Clock

A screen shot of my screen saver. My death clock. A chrome extension. A bitter-sweet motivational tool; it illustrates how little time I may have left. Download it here.

“The purpose of life is not simply to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Naked awareness. Clarity of mind. A sense of strong purpose.

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Knowing why you are here.

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There is power in purpose.

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The purpose of art, of creating something new, is to help wash the dust of daily life off our souls.  – Picasso

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Featured art by Tom French

The Benefits of Becoming More Self-Aware & Emotionally Intelligent

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Have you ever thought back on some of the most important decisions you’ve made in your life and wondered “What was I thinking?”  I certainly have. When we are reflecting on how we got here, perhaps we should be asking “What was I feeling?”  What state-of-mind were we in, that led to the some of the poor decisions made?

You see, when we make decisions based on emotions from fear and anxiety, we create a recipe for disaster.  Deciding to do something because you are afraid of doing something else or fear you will have no other choices or options at all, will get you absolutely nowhere.

Better decisions are made when you arrive at conclusions with a sense of strength and courage. The outcomes of those decisions will help you grow and evolve with increased clarity and self-improvement. The more thoughtful your decisions, the more quality you will have in your life.    I promise.

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You begin by becoming more emotionally intelligent – while understanding the role that your emotions play in everything you decide to do. Allowing any and all of your emotions to channel the way you move forward is not the best course of action. You don’t just listen to your gut. That is not enough. You must first think, feel, consider all options and then make a plan. A plan to deliberately move in the right direction.

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When we make decisions, like where to work, who to marry, who to befriend based on deep-seated emotions of fear, insecurity, and anxiety, we never make the best choices.

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And please don’t doubt this one bit. The more well-thought out decisions you make today WILL lead to an improved life tomorrow.

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Bike riding around Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, this quote, in the window of Word, the bookstore, really resonated with me.

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Oh and these emotions and feelings we speak of, they are so complicated, aren’t they?

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So how do we begin to understand our emotional triggers, the things that we feel that scare us, make us feel useless or violated, maybe even shameful and guilty?

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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. EQ is synonymous with self-awareness because it enables us to live our lives with intention, purpose, and autonomy.

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Why Running Away From Your Feelings Will Keep You Stuck in the Same Place

Running away from intense emotions of pain, anger, and resentment is what we do sometimes.   We numb these feelings with a smoke of this and a sip of that. It’s such an easy way out, but only temporarily.  Why do we stuff our sorrow and run from our feelings? I truly believe not many of us want to feel our suffering, but suffer on we must.

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If we would just consider that inside each moment of suffering is a superb amount of life teaching. A whole world of emotional education to help us grow.  It begins with learning the process and ability to express,  dismantle and adjust as you strengthen your locus of control.

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What you need to do is understand that what is actually happening is your world right now and how you feel about it are two DIFFERENT THINGS COMPLETELY.

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You must urge yourself to develop the ability to differentiate your feelings from what is actually happening in any given situation.

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Life is what it is, not what you think, feel or believe it is. That is just you painting the dark cloud of your emotions on top of the situation and changing it into your story. Your emotions are just a response to what is happening at any given moment, they are not what is actually happening.  Whatever you are feeling about anything, whether it be good, bad, sad or pleased has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on at that moment or what the outcome will be.

It is up to you to understand what issues you have inside that are trigging your troubled (or pleasant) emotions.

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This applies to everything. For example, your spouse may be drinking too much, getting sloppy and lashing out at you. That is what is happening. How you feel about this situation may be sad, angry, frustrated and deeply concerned, which in turn will have you creating a story in your mind. A story of victimization and loss. Those feelings may or may not drive you to do something, but they are not healthy for you.  When you remove your emotional responses, you will realize you have options. You have an option to remove yourself from the pain your spouse is causing you.

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A Better Way to Navigate Your Emotions

Sometimes it is a good idea to overcome your frightened emotions by meeting them head on in order to improve. This would include things like forcing yourself to speak in front of a group in order to get over the fear of public speaking. Yes, the obstacle can become the opportunity, but on a day-to-day basis, it is wise to do the following as you learn more about how you can manage your emotions.

Know What Triggers Your Emotions

Place yourself in favorable situations and avoid those that trigger heightened responses.

In other words, stay away from people that get your angry, places that make you feel uncomfortable and situations that somehow have the power to upset you. Become more aware of what makes you “fly off the handle”.

Make Things Easier for Yourself

Especially when you are learning something new in the beginning. For instance, if you are trying to learn how to draw, sing, act or run your own business. Look for ways to simplify the process. Make it easy to start.

Implement with Strong Intention & Attention

The key to any transformation (read: change) in your life, is to focus on your intention and attention on what you are trying to achieve. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t let your competitive nature get in the way.  This will help manage things like jealousy and resentment as well as perceived obstacles in your way.

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Inspired by 10 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by @BriannaWiest

 

Overcoming The Fear of Not Being Good Enough

It usually happens when I declare I am going to learn something new.  Like right now, I am learning how to film
and edit with Adobe Premiere Pro. Hours can go by and I don’t even know what happened. I am so involved in the process. Struggling through learning something new on After Effects, I look up and it’s 11 pm. My Fitbit app telling me it’s time to get some rest.  I like this kind of work. The work I can get lost in.
I use to worry about whether something new that I am trying (like video)  is “good enough”?  I wondered if I seemed really amateur (of course I am, I just started).  I realize that while I may suck now I won’t always stay at this level. Especially if I commit myself to practicing every day.
Yesterday’s challenge was filming one of my favorite places at the very start of my favorite season, summer.
I came up with some strategies to get over my fear of not being good enough because. . .
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 I can’t think of anything more frightening than a boring life.
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Stop rushing. Give yourself more time. Lot’s of it. Getting good takes time. Be more thoughtful with everything. Take out a notebook or your phone notes and list everything you have to do in order to produce good work. What do you need to learn? practice? – including what you must read and watch before you can begin. Create a strategy to be good enough.
Never compare what you do, create, write, film, edit to ANYONE ELSE’S WORK
Good enough compared to what? Doesn’t matter. You are just starting out. If you are going to compare your work, compare it to the newcomers, the just starting, the first timers.
Get inspired by learning from the BEST work. Watch the greats, read the bestsellers, listen to award-winning talks. Ignite your enthusiasm and raise your standards by looking for great mentors and creators. Don’t compare, but learn. Decipher their best techniques and use them in your work.
Start. Do a very little thing. Pick up the camera, dust off the sewing machine, buy a good pen and notebook and just do one small project, something you can do.
The grass is greener where it’s watered. Nurture your work. Train and practice something daily. Learn something daily. Don’t know what to learn? Don’t know what you need? Ask a question and Google it. Read more than one answer. Watch more than one tutorial.
Look at children’s artwork. Remember that we all start out sucky. Cute but really sucky. Be prepared to suck at first. That’s okay.
Only show people your work when you are absolutely ready. Don’t show off your first draft or your second. Go back and revise it until you are super confident that that is your best version so far.
Don’t try to do the hard stuff first. Do the easy stuff first. Make it easy to start. Don’t climb the mountain, take a short hike. Do it every day. Write one paragraph, paint one stroke, sketch one prototype.
Review your past accomplishments, some things you are really proud of because that work will remind you of what you can do when you put your mind to it.  What was your process there? Did you put in a lot of time? effort? energy?
Remove all negative energy – including people from your life. The cranky, the crazy, the ignorant, the complainers, the whiners and the naysayers. Drop em like their hot. Don’t let them violate your psychic space.
Do not seek approval, even your own. Just do the work. Struggle through it. Get a headache, drink more coffee, open up ten tabs, watch the video tutorial again. Save the link. It’s okay. Then take a break.
When you start procrastinating, call yourself out. Don’t let the laundry, your kids, the beautiful sunshiney day outside tempt you to stop. You are in training. Stay focused and disciplined. That’s how your work gets better. A little bit every day.
Don’t forget feedback. Especially good feedback, from the pros and those also giving it their all. Feedback will have you feeling like your actually working on your new project. You are all in.
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I am curious, what are you working on? How have you dealt with the “Am I good enough?” concern.  Comment below.