I’ve just returned from the Edinburgh Festival. Despite it being my 8th year at the Fringe, I managed to fail to pack a jacket, jumper or umbrella and so enjoyed a week of wandering around Edinburgh in the rain and arriving at venues sopping wet. I also forgot to take headphones which made the 4 hour train journey trying to say the least. It did give me time to really crack the spine of the book I’m reading at the moment though – You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.
You Are A Badaas is not the usual type of self-help inspirational manual – it’s less ‘rainbows and unicorns’ and more ‘get off your arse and make it happen’. Back in London I’m finding myself on the underground crying out “Yes! Yes!” every time Sincero absolutely nails it with her spot-on, down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice.
Most of you will have come across, if not read, The Secret. It’s a book I’ve always had a bit of a problem with: tap into the Universe and want something badly enough and the Universe, like some almighty cash machine, will hand it over. To me, that’s like sitting in a classroom and expecting to learn French simply by turning up – as a ex-teacher I can promise you that will never happen. Wanting something isn’t enough – you have to take action. You can want all you like, sat at home on the sofa eating pizza and crisps and playing Minecraft – you can want as much as you like but all you’ll get is the fairly limited, short-lived pleasure of desiring something, of imagining a fantasy – wanting is wanking.
Action is the answer. You have to not just want, but to take action for what you want. More than that, you have to be prepared for your actions to make you feel uncomfortable and foolish.
If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done. – Jen Sincero.
The action you need to take to manifest your dreams takes you beyond your fears – you have to push through all your fear, all your anxiety, all those voices in your head that tell you you’re going to look stupid, or people are going to laugh at you, or it’s probably not going to happen anyway, so why put so much effort in? You need to believe, to have an absolutely unshakeable belief, in things you can’t see, in things you have absolutely no evidence for, in things that everyone else is telling you are impossible. You need to believe in the impossible. All too often I find myself with a project I’m initially excited about only to repeatedly knock myself down – “I’m not as lucky as other people” “This will never take off”. I think I’m wanting something but actually, subconsciously I’m telling myself “You’re not good enough.”
Oftentimes it seems that all the evidence tells us something isn’t possible. Our experience tells us to stop, to ‘be realistic’ when the truth is that the impossible IS possible, but first we have to get past those voices in our head, ignore the evidence and push on. You have to take action, make serious life-changes (even when everyone is telling you not to!). You will have to be prepared to sacrifice ‘normal’ life for what you want, to push way, way outside of your comfort zone, and you have to be able to do something new and scary, something that will push you beyond your limits of embarrassment. Impossible = I’m Possible.
Think of the people you admire in this industry – did they get where they are by worrying what other people think? Or are they out there making their own work, putting it out there and not caring what other people think about them? Are they hustling and pushing themselves (sometimes embarrassingly hard)?
Are those people really any different to you? Are they braver than you are, or did they just decide not to give a shit?
Some of you are waiting for something to happen – others of you are out there making things happen. Which are you? Are you driving the car, or are you a passenger?
It’s OK if you don’t want to do this. It’s OK to stay safe, to stay within your comfort zone, to not try anything new or scary – but nothing changes unless you change it.
“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anaïs Nin
Finally then, here are 9 rules direct from the pages of You Are A Badass that you can start working on right now;
1) Appreciate how special you are. You are the ONLY one of you on a planet of BILLIONS, floating in an unlimited universe.
2) Drown yourself in affirmations. You need to rewire your brain and fast. Decide what YOU need to change and start repeating positive affirmations to yourself all the time, on the tube, in the shower, start rewiring your brain.
3) Do Things You Love. Make time for what YOU love, and do it simply becauseyou love it.
4) Find replacements. Start noticing every time you limit yourself or are negative about yourself and STOP IT. Change it into a positive, so instead of catching sight of yourself in a mirror and thinking “Boy, I look rough”, notice that you’re doing that, and change it to “Boy, I look amazing”
5) Ditch self-deprecating humour. Oh man, this is a big one for me. Do you do it too? Constantly taking the piss out of myself before anyone else can do it for me. STOP IT. Even though it’s only a joke, thoughts become words, words become beliefs, beliefs become actions, actions become habits, habits become reality.
6) Let the Love In. Take a compliment! Do you say “Oh, this old thing? I’ve had it for ages!’ or do you simply say “Thank you so much”?
7) Stop comparing yourself to others. The holy grail of advice. Just stop it.
8) Forgive yourself. You have fucked up in the past, you will fuck up again. We all do. Get over it. Self-flagellation is SO 13th Century!
9) Love yourself. Easy, eh?