Let's be real here...
Most of us can't stick to a lot of things, being rebels and all.
I remember the agony of University and how I would start all of my papers at the last minute, even though I had had months to prepare and start writing.
Instead, I would start the previous night or the weekend, and have to be ready first thing on Monday morning or the next day. And it was excruciating. I mean, it's one thing to prepare for months and start writing the last minute. I'm talking that both preparing and writing would happen at the last minute. I would also start cramming information the last minute before a test.
I'll never forget this one time when I went out and partied the night before a big test, got insanely drunk, threw up, passed out, woke up in my room without a key for the front door OR my ID card, which I would need for the test...
And when I somehow managed to get to the test and take it, the whole time I was shaking from dehydration and well, still being tipsy.
But it's not like we always mean to do it...
Sometimes its hardwired in you, like for example, when you always get to places late, and whatever you do to change things, nothing works.
You're always late anyway.
And that's not something I like to admit in the first place because I always talk about the power of habit and how habits can transform your life.
Well, they can, but even they have limits.
Which is why I want to tell you today how to handle your hardwired rebellions, the rebel way.
It starts with a personality test.
First off, I want you to take a test.
It was created by Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, who has particularly interesting insights on motivation.
Basically, you fall into one of 4 types:
Did you take it? Are you a rebel? ME TOO!!! :)
It always seemed to me that not many people were creating solutions for rebels, ya know? As if we weren't the ones who most needed the help.
Well, we do need help because:
- We can't adhere to external rules.
- We can't adhere to our own internal rules.
Which basically means we can't do anything that seems like a rule whatsoever.
Deadlines, schedules, checkboxes...
These are all horrid creations of the human civilization designed to make rebels miserable and make the normal people proud of themselves for being normal. Now, I am kidding of course, but only half-kidding, as usual.
So what do you do when someone sets a deadline? Or when you're supposed to follow a schedule? What do you do when faced with the impossible?
Work around your limitations.
This is where I really like to talk and talk and talk... until someone shuts me up, except this is my blog, so that option is out the window. Hah.
You know how most people just hate limitation?
Someone says you can't do something, and no matter how hard you try to prove them wrong, in time, you become convinced you can't do it.
And then you ignore that thing completely.
What would happen if you chose to work around it? Or even with it??
We all have limitations and that's no shame, even though people would like us to believe it's some kind of failing on our part. The truth is, the human being is a cocktail of strengths and weaknesses, on a spectrum of fluid personality traits, and in order for a strength to be present, a limitation has to be present, too.
Kind of like true superheroes. Every Superman has his kryptonite.
Thing is, and I want you to remember this:
- You were born with strengths.
- You were born with desires (which you developed in life.)
- And you were equipped to achieve those desires and meet the challenges that presented as mere limitations you can work with.
For example, they say that multipassionate people (people with many interests) are flaky and they can never hold a job, but that's not a limitation, it's a societal construct biased toward specialists. Multipassionate people, instead, work with the strengths that they have - holistic knowledge, transferable skills, ability to make original and unexpected connections - and create their own unique career paths that people are now calling slash careers and multipassionate businesses. (Well, the first is out there, the second is what I like to talk about.)
I have spent my whole life trying to conform to the rules of society when I was just NOT like everybody else and I was cheating myself.
Maybe you have done the same, and you are sick and tired of it.
Thing is, every limitation you think you have needs to be seen through your own prism, or else you'll live your life trying to meet somebody else's expectations instead of living out your true genius and sharing your own truth.
When you can't meet the world's rules, you gotta make your own rules.
If you can't meet deadlines, figure out your own "rebel alternative" of a deadline. Put yourself in a situation that makes it easier to do the work without focusing on the deadline. Hell, tell people not to mention deadlines.
If you can't create a schedule, don't create a schedule or adapt it to your liking. My friend Meg Kissack has a "flexible schedule" on Google Calendar, where she has her weekly tasks neatly outlined and colored, and when she doesn't feel like doing something, she moves the block to another time, or another day.
I do the same but without the blocks because whenever I try to follow a strict schedule, I do nothing because I'm too busy rebelling against it.
If you feel the same way:
- You'll have to learn to work with that limitation.
- You'll have to get creative with your limitations and show them they're not in control of your life. You're in control of your life.
- And sometimes you'll have to check if they're really limitations or if society and normal people would like you to believe so.
How I did the impossible.
I have always found it IMPOSSIBLE to finish a novel, and I think most creatives find it difficult to finish things, but it was like a limitation for me because however hard I tried, nothing worked. Usually, a person would try, fail, and never try again, but I was so determined that I couldn't stop trying. You can look in my drawers and find about 6 or 7 unfinished drafts, some even almost finished, but you will find only one completely finished draft, and that happened last summer.
Why was this so "impossible" for me???
Because I have a set of strengths and weaknesses that add up to being able to do certain things easily and other things, not so easily.
Just like everybody else.
So for me, it would be easy to complete something short and work in spits and spurts. But it would NOT be easy to do a marathon of any kind. In fact, it's the most difficult and unpleasant thing I can think of, which is a me thing.
However, I was born with the desire to be an author, so eventually I will have to figure out a way to publish a book of fiction or a collection of short stories or even a nonfiction book, and I have made some big strides so far.
How did I do something seemingly impossible for me?
By leveraging what comes naturally, coming up with creative ways to go around my limitations, and most of all, coming up with "rebel alternatives."
For example, if you abhor webinars or funnels or something else you're tired of hearing about, you just have to figure out what your alternative would look like. What would achieve the same goal, but would fit you better? How would you do it if you didn't know how to do it? Asking questions like this helps you go back to basics and do things in a way that's a more natural fir for you.
It's like clothes - a pieces of clothing is either a good fit or a bad fit for you and that's true for everything we do. Next time you see a blockbuster trend or an expert advises you to do something, check if it fits first.
And if it doesn't fit, feel free to adjust it.
The truth about limitations and what you can do next to succeed.
If you believe something is impossible for you, that you can't do it, it's just because you haven't tried all the ways around it...
You haven't tried to work with it...
You haven't gotten creative with the challenges you got. That is how people make anything happen. Most rebels don't really go for what's easy anyway, that's not interesting enough. We go for what we can't figure out... yet.
And the figuring it out is the fun part. :)
If everything was easy, we would have no motivation, no strive, and what this brilliant TED talk by Tim Hartford exemplifies, the mess and the difficulty and the awkwardness make us more creative and make us perform better.
If you think of limitations as fun challenges, this changes everything.
Because while you're sitting there, bemoaning your limitations and envying the people who can follow instructions, those people are just stuck in a box of someone else's making. As for your limitations, or your fun challenges, it turns out that they will make you better at what you do, more creative at what you do, and ultimately challenges will make you more original as they help you flex your creativity muscles and find truly original solutions.
You can see it everywhere - from limitations of the body (Stephen Hawking anyone) to limitations in art (rigorous poetic structures), limitations do not stop the individual from succeeding, but actually propel them forward and make them better, more creative, and in the end, more original.
That's what happened to me - I have found my own unique solutions and now I'm obsessed with helping fellow creative rebels find theirs.
Now I want you to stop thinking you're limited in any way and start playing with what you have and working around what you think you can't do.
- find a way to get work done without deadlines
- find a way to share your work without getting an anxiety attack
- find a way to niche down without boxing yourself up
- find a way to start that business already
- find a way to finish that thing you've been working on forever
- find a way to make your creative process better suited to your needs
- find a way to tackle that huge mountain of to-do tasks without going crazy
- find a way to do marketing without feeling like a sleazeball
- find a way to boost your creative confidence (dammit)
- find a way to tune off the BS of the world (and even your own BS)
- find a way to make your habits work for you, not against you
- find a way to converge your many passions
- find a way to make money in new ways
I believe you can do anything and I hope you believe that, too.
There's always a way - YOUR WAY.