The ABCs of Doing Your Own Thing
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The hardest part in your journey is usually figuring out what your thing is. Once you know what it is you desire, you set your mind and heart to go after it with zeal and determination, thinking nothing can stop you.
Alas, the journey is not usually free from challenges. One of the biggest hurdles you face is feedback. If it’s not a naysayer in your circle, it’s something you read online.
These days most of us suffer from an overexposure to information and communications. The world is so accessible and connected. But with this connection comes a price—more naysayers than ever.
The minute you pause to think about what others are telling you to do (or not do), you interrupt the flow of your action. If you choose to dig in deeper, you can drown in a never-ending stream (more like a tsunami) of information.
We all know how hard it is to pick up after we stop. We spend time analyzing and trying to understand where others are coming from, without a definite conclusion. The more time and energy you exert thinking of what others are saying, the less your desire to keep going.
It’s very crucial at this time to become aware of the negative feedback and noise and move past it. It’s more important now because of the overwhelming amount of information that’s communicated and shared every day. Here are my ABCs of dealing with feedback and doing your thing.
A. Don’t confuse opinions with facts.
The personal connection makes it easier to identify opinions when they come from family members or friends. But it’s much harder online. We assume that information comes from people who know better … who are experts.
I’m by no means an internet guru and I assume most of people aren’t. When a message goes viral, I automatically assume it comes from someone with authority and credibility.
Some of the stuff I read makes me uneasy. With the speed messages are sent and received, sometimes it’s hard to stop and think. We just react. And that’s a problem.
The negative slant
We pay more attention to the negative and controversial stuff. I’m not sure why. It could be a protective survival mechanism, a conditioning outcome, a desire to feed our pain/ego or a combination. These days attention equates validation and truth.
Know the difference
Look at the following messages and think about them for a minute.
- Blogging is dead
- Rest in peace RSS
- Email is so yesterday
When I read the above, I felt uneasy since I’m a big fan of blogs and RSS and I don’t see a practical alternative to email, yet.
Then I stopped and realized that I’m mistaking someone’s opinion for a fact. Just because someone says email is old news doesn’t mean it’s happening right now.
An opinion is just that. You can choose to agree or disagree with it. You decide if it’s something that’s relevant to you or not. You don’t have to change your course of action because someone said so.
If the distinction is not clear, you get bogged down by the overflow of contradictory opinions that only adds to your confusion.
So whenever you read or hear something, stop and ask yourself if this is a fact or an opinion. If it’s the latter, take note and move on.
B. Practice unattachment.
When I said I felt uneasy, it was because I was attached to the subjects of discussion. You may feel threatened by some of the headlines and topics you read.
One thing that usually creeps up on me is that I feel I’m missing out on something, that somehow I’m behind the curve. This is another sign of attachment.
Remember an opinion is someone else’s perspective. Don’t make it yours—don’t attach your own projections or worries to it.
The moment you feel a negative emotion, recognize it and ask yourself:
For example: So what if I’m behind? So what if email disappears or blogs die?
What’s the worst that can happen? If this comes to fruition tomorrow, how is it going to affect my life?
You may find in the end that you don’t really care.
If you determine that the issue is important to you, develop a plan B.
For example, blogging is important to me. But if it becomes an obsolete medium of expressing and communicating ideas, I can create a newsletter, write an eBook or share my ideas on social networks. No biggie.
Come up with alternatives that can put you at ease and mitigate your attachment to the present challenge.
C. Trust and keep moving forward.
When you stop to think about what’s being said, don’t take too long.
Deal with the information as soon as it hits your eyes and brain. Think of how it affects you, come up with alternatives and make a decision.
If you freeze and stop taking action, you will make it much harder on yourself to pick up where you left off. So it’s best to do it right away.
In most cases you will keep going in your chosen direction and won’t give credence to what you heard or read. Trust your intuition and have faith in your abilities and choices.
On the rare occasion that something comes up that is valid and affects your life right now, calmly reflect on it. Then change direction if need be. But do it for your own reasons.
There is peace in doing your thing. With practice you will learn to ignore more opinions and focus on carving and following your own way—your authentic path to success.
“Do your own thing on your own terms and get what you came here for” ~Oliver James