About the Wiser Next Week Series: These entries will involve posting my book, Wiser Next Week, chapter by chapter, freely available to the public. Additionally, I’ll be recounting a story about something I’ve learned based on the chapter’s topic since the months that have past when the book was published in December 2018.
I remember when I first started writing Wiser Next Week. There were many reasons why out of all the things that can be done to invest time productively, I wrote a book:
- I had no social life and needed something to do
- I wanted the bragging rights of being an author
- At 22 and having finished college, I wanted to make a name for myself and show I had something special
- I really didn’t want to be an accountant anymore so I wanted a source of income to fund my travels.
Finishing college and entering the workforce, I lost the support structure of having a university. I really had no reason to stay in the same town as I went to school (Reno, NV). So I began questioning this choice. I saw at the time becoming an author as my ticket to freedom.
So in 2018, I spent much of my free time working at it:
- After work
- During the weekends
- During lunch breaks
I remember specifically with the 3rd one during my breaks from crunching numbers as an accountant, I didn’t spend that time eating (I munched on hot pockets at my desk to save time), I was out in the lobby with my laptop sitting on the floor working.
This was odd behavior to my coworkers as well as employees in nearby offices. Whenever anyone asked what I was doing, I said I was “reading a book” and generally being really evasive about my lunchtime activities. Additionally during the weekends when I spent most of it writing and other members of the office staff would ask,
“How was your weekend?”
I gave them the standard canned response of,
“Good, how was yours?”
If they were persistent about learning more about my weekend affairs, I would answer,
“I read books” and proceed to try and talk about X companies P&L statement (accounting jargon don’t worry about it) to deflect the attention off of me.
Retrospectively, I was so evasive about personal questions because I feared criticism.
Maxwell Maltz in his famed book Psycho-Cybernetics described the condition:
Fear of Criticism robs us of initiative, imagination, individuality and self-reliance while planting fears. These fears inhibit you as you monitor every action, movement, and word. You become self-conscious and it destroys your ability to make a good impression.
I monitored every word I said during the 14 months I worked as an accountant. All I wanted to do was keep my head down and try to go unnoticed (kinda hard when the firm had less then 20 people in it). I kept everyone there at an arms length and in turn, they reciprocated.
I didn’t want to be judged for going after my aspirations. So I kept my book project from as many people as possible. The less people that knew, the less I could be judged. This mentality spilled over to other pursuits as well.
- Write a book? No need to let anyone know
- Open up a website? Don’t look at me 🙈, my lips are sealed
- Start an eCommerce store? I’m invisible (This didn’t work out)
Solution: Decide not to worry about what others think, do, or say. You cannot control their opinions , but you can control your own outward projection to the world. Speak, Act, Move. Stop criticizing yourself and over-analyzing situations, correct things as you move along , improvise.
I didn’t tell my fellow accountants about my book project until my last day at the firm (and I told them via email rather then in person). Their response?
“That’s awesome dude!”
No malice, it was praise.
I was afraid of being criticized for mistakes, a remnant of my time in school. I over thought situations that I had no control over (the opinions of others) rather then laying it all on the line and taking the good with the bad (mostly good).
Most people will praise more then (ruthlessly) criticize. And you cannot take the good without the bad. That’s just life.
So criticism is just part of the process of getting what you want. Therefore, welcome critique as if it was the exercise you need to get stronger muscles.
Here is the “On Fear” chapter of Wiser Next Week. Take it and implement it into your own life.