You know that feeling when you set yourself a goal only to back out and not do it?
That feeling fucking sucks.
I know it well.
I used to be a total goal-flake.
I’d set a goal – say to lose weight, or to get fit, or to find a new job – and then I’d feel all the excited! liberating! feelings, spend the entire day talking the ass off anyone who would listen to me about my plans and actions and this-is-what-I-am-going-to-dos!
And then I’d do nothing.
I’d often feel confused by my doing nothing.
I wondered whether I was just plain lazy. Or that maybe I didn’t want the goal ENOUGH. Or, ugh and this is the worst, I used to think that maybe I just wasn’t ENOUGH: I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t strong enough – which is really rather sad.
I’d also make excuses and tell myself: “I’ll start running next month.” “I’ll wait a while and see what happens at work, and then I’ll start looking for jobs.” “I’ll lose weight, but only when I’ve eaten all the junk food in my cupboards, otherwise it’s a waste of food and jeez, Liz, there are people starving in the world!”
You get the picture.
It never once occurred to me that I might just be scared shitless.
(My therapist had to point that one out to me).
You’re probably thinking that once I’d realised that I was actually just scared, I got on with losing weight and getting fit and leaving my job and started hulk smashing the shit out of my goals, right?
No I didn’t.
What I did do though is delight in telling people how scared I was, like it was now somehow a valid and credible reason to do nothing. Oh, and I also continued with the excuses, because excuses provided me with justification, a sense of “Well, maybe not today, but soon and that’s ok for now.” Until the next day, or week, or month, and then I’d repeat the whole process again.
This went on for a very long time.
I felt like I was sleep-walking through life. I was emotionally exhausted. And very, very bored.
In the end, I got tired of feeling tired and whining about why I couldn’t do things and generally thinking that everything fucking sucked, and started to wonder what it would be like if I just grabbed my goals by the balls and got on with things.
(I’m a bit all or nothing like that, and it turned out that being ‘all’ was far better than being ‘nothing’.)
I started to run. And not eat junk food. I gave my television away and read interesting books instead. I began to study again and left the 8-year relationship I was unhappy in. I started a blog and pushed myself to write. I signed up for a Twitter account and made heaps of friends and contacts and found a really awesome tribe of people. I started my own business. And another. And then another.
It felt good. More than good. It felt amazing! Like I was alive! Awake! I was LIVING MY LIFE!
But I was still scared shitless.
In fact, I’m always scared shitless these days: It’s kind of like that moment when you’re hanging over the edge of a rollercoaster track, held in by nothing but two straps (that you’ve obsessively checked over and over as the rollercoaster cart climbs its way to the top) and your knuckle-white grip on the bar in front of you. You know that it’s going to feel amazing as you drop, but you cannot bear the wait – the ass clenching suspense – and you feel like shouting FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, LETS JUST GET THE HELL ON WITH THIS SHALL WE?
And suddenly your hands are in the air, you’re smiling the biggest smile ever and you’re freefalling and it feels like the best feeling in the world ever.
And that’s why being scared shitless on a rollercoaster is so worth it. Because you get to the bottom and want to do it again.
The last few months have been especially high on the scared-shitless-scale for me.
It started with an email from Nicole titled: THE CRAZIEST QUESTION YOU’LL GET ALL DAY.
I was sat at my work desk when I opened it. I eyed it gingerly, Nicole has a tendency to send me pretty whacko emails, you see, and I wondered what the hell she was going to ask me this time.
The email said:
LIZ, I AM BEING SERIOUS, WILL YOU RUN ACROSS AMERICA WITH ME?
My first reaction was this:
I can’t do that.
Run. Across. America? From Los Angeles. To New York!
But then something happened.
I took a deep breath and replied: HI NICOLE, YES, YES, YES, YES I WILL RUN ACROSS AMERICA WITH YOU.
And then I promptly freaked the hell out.
“What will I do about the mortgage?” “Who will look after the cat?” “How will I afford this?” “What about my businesses?” “How the hell do you actually run across America? I can’t read maps!” “What will we eat?” “Where will we shower?” “Will we have to camp? I hate camping!”
I’ve been freaking out since the 19th February 2013, the day Nicole emailed me.
I am scared shitless, guys.
But I’m getting the eff on with it.
Consider this goal, this crazy-ass, utterly terrifying, life changing, can’t-quite-believe-this-is-happening goal, firmly grabbed by the balls.
In March, 2015, I’ll be running from Los Angeles to New York, with my friend by my side.