I made a very specific set of goals for 2017, and can feel my life fighting back to retain its original state. One of the things it uses is fear, which never goes away if you are healthy. Only an unhealthy brain is free of fear, which is a core survival emotion, telling us that there is a challenge in the wind. The trick is to correctly interpret the signal, and then to anchor your emotions to a goal, and use it to motivate action.
For instance (gulp). I have always been insecure about my writing. And always will be. Part of the problem is “the voices in my head” gathered from social feedback, my mother, and every failure or disappointment ever experienced. Part of it is that my “editor” self will ALWAYS be more advanced than my “creative/writer” self. The Machine insists that we read 10X as much as we write. As we do this, our ability to see flaws increase constantly (by comparing our work to the work of the Masters), and if we apply energy and focus, we constantly improve as we move new skills to unconscious competence. The trick there is UNCONSCIOUS competence. We don’t even notice how good we are at X and Y. Our attention automatically goes to Z, which is out of reach.
Which is why so many artists are depressive–they see that their reach will always exceed their grasp. This perfectionistic part of their personality allies with the negative voices from the past (“see! It’s true. You’re lousy…”) Because there is also a war between the “adult” and “child” selves, the notion of really learning sales and marketing is often anathema (“I can’t put a price tag on my heart!”). Unless you are one of the lucky ones who attracts a superb team of agents and managers, or lucky enough to hit the zeitgeist and just blow up HUGE, you are likely to “underperform” by your optimistic estimates, sending you into a spiral of pain (“why don’t THEY see how good I am? What’s wrong with THEM?” or “I must not be any good…”) fear that we aren’t good wars with the part of us that says we MUST succeed. A false ego shell protects the MUST from the terror of the CAN’T, and any threat to it can trigger crippling mortal terror.
In my own life, my career in Hollywood was zipping along pretty well when my life was turned upside down, for almost 20 years, by various family concerns. When I re-engaged with Tinsel Town, it was after failures (couldn’t work long distance) and serious bad news (ageism.) And the fear hit like a ton of bricks. SOMEHOW, I had to test the hypothesis that I could still thrive in Hollywood, by taking enough actions to gather the data.(Note how I had to go into “robot” mode to keep the emotions at bay). I had to get up to home plate and swing…either get a hit or strike out. Then either work to get to second base…and then third…or sit down, figure out how to improve my game, and get back up to swing again.
Over and over. Again and again. The only way to know. How the hell do I manage my emotions every day, day after day?
FIRST: Be crystal clear on what I wan to accomplish. Let’s say that’s get a television series on the air, or a movie sold, produced, and distributed successfully.
SECOND: Realizing how much work this will take, how many barriers internal and external I will run into, I have to know WHY I want to do it. So that when I think about it, I get POSITIVE emotions rather than the NEGATIVE emotions I’ll have if my brain starts dredging up pain from the past, and fearing the future. Preferably, related it to every aspect of my life: how will taking these actions enhance my survival? Sexuality? Sense of power and control? My emotions and connection with my family and friends? My communication ability and capacity to help the world? My mental acuity? My spirituality?
IF I CAN CONNECT THE FULFILLMENT OF MY GOAL TO ALL SEVEN AREAS, I AM “WIDE OPEN”. All switches set to “go” if at every point I FEEL myself jump with energy when I contemplate the results. NOW I have internal permission to kick butt. NOW and ONLY now should I define what needs to be done. The daily actions. The weekly goals. The monthly plans. The One-year outcome. IF AND ONLY IF when I contemplate each of these levels I feel a powerful YEAH!!! I’m ready to go. And from there…I am set up to do my very very best, at all levels, every moment of every day. IF I can succeed…I just gave myself my best chance to do so.