The only way to find your voice is to use it.
The hardest decisions we face are the ones that can't be made without you — in other words, the important stuff that often doesn't feel urgent.
Like taking your spouse out to dinner for no reason at all. Or showing that coworker how much you appreciate her. Even deciding to hit “publish” on a blog post.
They're the decisions that if you don't make them no one notices but you. It's the choice to leave your job when you think it's time, despite the fact that everyone says you do great work. It's the choice to launch an important project when there is plenty of email to answer.
These are the decisions that shape us, that shape our world and affect our future. They're not easy decisions to make, but they are important.
The better of two goods
Often, it might feel like choosing between two pretty good options. But in your heart you know which one is right. The life of an artist is full of moments like this. Moments where the only wrong choice is to not move forward, to stagnate.
I can't say what this means for you. For me, it means hanging onto a project far longer than I should. It means starting something (or finishing it) before I feel ready. It's learning to trust my gut, obey my instinct, and listen to the spirit inside that says, “It's time.”
One of the most important decisions I made happened three years ago. It was the decision to start calling myself a writer. When I did this, all kinds of crazy things started happening. The most amazing one was this: I finally began to believe I was a writer.
And as a result, I began to act like it, publishing and sharing my work.
Eventually, the world started to take notice. Publishers, agents, and editors were now asking me to write. Instead of me going to them, the gatekeepers were showing up at my doorstep, which was, admittedly, weird. But I've learned to embrace the lesson in this experience.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “Nothing works until you do.”
Daily decisions make a difference
Now, the biggest decisions I face on a daily basis involve when to release my work to the world.
For example, I've been finishing up the manuscript for my next book, which in many ways feels like the most important thing I've ever written. But I'm beyond petrified of finishing it. Which is what makes me confident I need to do it.
When you begin to feel that fear of inadequacy, knowing you've done the work and simply sat on your behind, this is a telltale sign that it's time to ship. To let go. To turn the work in and move on to the next project.
I'm thankful for this hesitation, the thing that causes me to deliberate over something until it's as close to perfect as I can make it. But at the same time, I kind of hate it. It's paralyzing.
So without thinking, I close my eyes and hit send on the email or “publish” that blog post and let go of my work which will never be totally finished.
Often, I have no idea if it's going to move people or flop. But that's not my call to make. What's mine to do, and perhaps yours as well, is to do the work and accept the outcome. Quality comes with time.
Your job is to trust the process and keep showing up.
[specialbox]Note: If you've ever wondered what this looks like practically or what you can do to put your work out in the world, I recommend starting a blog. Next week, I'll be sharing something that will help you take all the hassle out of blogging so that you can get your message heard. Stay tuned![/specialbox]
What courageous decision to share your work can you make today? Share in the comments.