Guess what? It’s okay to have some positive thoughts about yourself.
Many of us were raised in intellectual households, where if you couldn’t prove your point, well, you were just being delusional. I’m asking you to be a little delusional. You may be reluctant to think nice thoughts about yourself. I understand. You may feel that your negative thoughts “keep you in line” and you don’t want to “get a big head.”
Darling, you will not get a big head. I promise.
EXERCISE: TEN NICE THINGS
Step 1. Write Down Ten Successes, Wins, or Blessings from the Past Year.
Grab a pen and write down ten good things that have happened in the past twelve months. It’s time to give those chattering critical voices in your head a rest. It’s time to change the tape. It’s time to accentuate the positive.
If it doesn’t work, no worries — you can always go back to thinking negatively any time you’d like.
(“I paid off all my credit cards” or “I learned how to cook a perfect roast chicken”), things that happened to you (“My cousin gave me that wonderful birthday present” or “I got asked to perform the solo”), things that happened around you (“There is some jasmine growing right next to my bedroom window, and it smells heavenly” or “Those noisy neighbors finally moved away”) or (most likely) some combination of the above.
Don’t have a contest with yourself about the “best” things that happened to you; just list some things that, when you reread the list, make you nod and smile to yourself and think, “Yep. That’s pretty good.”
Step 2. Write Down Ten Nice Things about Yourself.
Now make a list of ten nice things about you. They may be nice qualities that you were born with, like your quick mind and your lovely eyes. They may be nice skills you’ve learned, like your gorgeous gardening skills and your ability to run a mile without losing your breath.
Or maybe they’re things other people appreciate about you, like what a safe and courteous driver you are, and how you always remember everyone’s birthday. Push yourself to come up with ten.
After all, the assignment is not to write down ten extraordinary things about you, or ten things that no one else in the world has ever done — just ten nice things that, again, you can look at and say, “Yep. That’s pretty good.”
Asking yourself the question “Where will I think to look for this?” might be the single greatest organizational step you can take.
Asking yourself this question puts you in a state of awareness about your organizational style and creates an automatic mnemonic so you are even more likely to remember later on.
If I can imagine that the last time I put away a bottle of vanilla extract I thought, “Well, I’ll probably think to look for this with the rest of the baking stuff or maybe with the spices,” and then I put it with the rest of the baking stuff, well, I’ve got a better than fifty fifty chance of finding it right away the next time I need vanilla.
Certainly much higher than if I just jam it on a shelf somewhere where it eventually gets shoved to the back (because it’s a seldom-used item) and where I’ll never find it because I’m not even sure I have any to begin with because I don’t remember the last time I put it away.
This leads to buying more vanilla extract, which, if you use the pure extract (and you really should; the imitation stuff is terrible) is pretty darn expensive.
So why buy two when one, well placed, will do?
Again, the question is not, “Where should this go?” The question is, “Where, given my actual life, would I think something like this might end up?”
This is also a great question to ask yourself in parking garages, although there it sounds more like, “How will I remember which spot this is when I return?”
A good system is practical, realistic, easy, and even fun.
A bad system is impractical, unrealistic, hard, and a bummer.
You, your stuff, your space, and your art all deserve great systems.
Your creative work is an expression of your soul, of your perspective, of your innermost self. It’s completely unique to you.
So there is no “template” you can follow, because no one has ever done what you’re doing before.
And any time you start to try to adopt someone else’s “six-figure” system, or try to abide by “conventional wisdom” you get all itchy.
And then you procrastinate and you tell yourself all kinds of stories about how no one would ever pay you to do this and how there’s no market for it and how you’re probably not that good at it anyway and how the technology sort of freaks you out and what if you succeed and someone steals your idea or what if someone calls you a fraud and then you start criticizing yourself about your low self-esteem and how you never finish anything and maybe you should just forget this crazy dream of making money from your creativity once and for all.
Like that’s gonna happen.
You can’t give up on your dreams because your dreams never give up on you.
They keep haunting you.
Pulling at your sleeve.
And then you see some no-talent-hack succeed and you think, “I could do that!”