Permission to Speak Freely

For years I’ve been an inconsistent blogger. When I try to publish, a lot of “me” stuff happens. The following psychological phenomena are areas where I resist, and stand in my own way.

  • Feeling like a failure
  • Being discouraged by lack of customer interaction
  • Feeling embarrassed about a piece of writing from the past
  • Perfectionism
  • Fear of being wrong
  • Fear of alienating others who disagree
  • Other priorities

I have written a response to each of these. I hope the responses dispel some of their grips. And by dispelling their psychological hold, I hope to give myself (and you) permission to speak freely.

Why goals suck

I have given myself permission to stop imposing goals.

Goals can be useful, but making them can also be a dangerous proxy for actually doing the activity. You have to be careful not to fall prey to the suggestion that the reason you haven’t accomplished something is that 1) you haven’t set an aggressive enough goal, or 2) that setting goals are the first step towards a new habit or behavior. I rebuke that shit!

I have enough going on in my life — being a productive, sane and healthy individual who tries their best to contribute to the greater good — I don’t need goals on top of all of that. So I’m going to stop imposing goals when it comes to writing. As long as I hear keys clacking, words moving, and writing getting posted, I’m going to try my best to be happy + satisfied with it.

No goals. Here’s the alternative: FUN

Goals kill fun. They force you to take writing seriously, as if it has a purpose. Alright, there is a purpose to writing. But being fixated on purpose keeps you stuck in the future, instead of enjoying where I’m at.

And if we're not enjoying what we do, it can't be sustainable. "If it ain’t fun, it ain’t sustainable”.

Find joy in writing a clear sentence. Feel great about an outline, about choosing a better word or phrasing a sentence differently, or about posting something and calling it done.

Is anyone there?

The problem of no customer interaction is a problem of marketing. It requires me to put what I have to say in front of people’s faces. Not in an aggressive or insecure or needing-to-prove-something way, but in a way where it can be scrutinized and made better.

Go into the world. Nuff said.

This includes responding to others. Making my posts relevant to others instead of navel gazing.

Not letting the past define you

This one is tough. I don't like looking at old work. I’m embarrassed of my past design, or even my past interactions with others. But still I write, I design and I strike forth and look ahead.

The past becomes part of the present by becoming lessons we take forward. I incorporate the past into the way I act today. But it does not define today.

"To the person I was, I am proud of you. To the person I was, I forgive you. To the person I was, thank you."

Abandoning Perfectionism

I look at my homepage from time to time, and I see how stagnated it looks. Then I think “I should really write”, and the guilt builds up. Whats the minimum writing to feel like I’m moving the ball forward?

I will consider a minimum viable post. I think it's important to give myself permission to publish small pieces of writing, in the hopes that smaller ideas means I can bring more quality forward.

“Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” @jack

I will give myself permission to make mistakes, have some possibly incomplete thinking. This is life in perpetual beta. I can always revisit old thinking and re-write, re-write, re-write. That is part of being human isn't it?

Writing is action

Lastly on this perfectionism point, I will acknowledge that writing is doing something. There is a self-judgment that says that sitting at my keyboard and typing is useless. I can type about all the injustices in the world but no amount of typing will make a dent into it. Now that last statement is probably true. But typing is doing something; it helps me process, it connects with others, shares wisdom and helps us all grow towards enlightened action.

And while I might not save the world in one keystroke, a few words could help a life. And that difference can be enough for me.

Fear of being wrong / alienating others

I will be wrong, and I will get over it. There are no bad marks or grades. Make a shitty first draft. Then embrace a willingness to make changes to your opinion, to reconsider an alternative, or to augment an opinion with new information. This is like the design process, remember, so you're used to it!

However, being wrong is not the same as lacking clarity. Speech is easily misunderstood. Strive for clarity, avoid misunderstanding whenever possible.

Then be okay with being understood and wrong.

Be okay with people disagreeing

Find strength and integrity in a pure heart and mind. If you are speaking with honest intentions from your heart and mind, trying to live that life fully, then you have done your part. There will be some that disagree with you.

Being in relationship with those you disagree with can be useful practice for connecting with others "across the aisle".

Let it go. If disagreement alienates, then your message wasn’t meant for that audience.

That’s it.

I hope to always have time for writing, because it’s something I cherish.

Other priorities or excuses will come up, because that's life. What's different now? Hopefully when I see my psychological blocks rear their ugly head I’ll remember this post.