The end of 2014 is near and it’s tempting to draw up a long list of lofty goals for 2015. I’ve done my homework for my business (and I’ll be taking part in Marta Stelmaszak’s free online January Business Camp to catch anything I may have missed). And that should be enough – most years it is.
This year, I am making an exception and have one major (and slightly scary) resolution:
In 2015, I will try one new thing a month that not only takes me out of my comfort zone but also may not be a raving success. My plan is to practice a graceful acceptance of not always being able to be excellent at something.
Let me explain. I have a strong perfectionist streak as do many translators. This is great for my translation work because it means I am constantly looking to improve my skills and be the best I can be. And I never make the same mistake twice. I am always pushing myself to do better.
The downside is that I too often shy away from the opportunity to try new things. The memories of past failures are alive and kicking in my mind. I can still vividly remember that audition for The Wizard of Oz in third grade that DID NOT GO WELL. Oh yes, my 8-year-old self is still mortified. The fear of being below par holds me back and that simply won’t do. There is a difference between being cautious and being chicken. Being chicken won’t get you far in the long run.
On a rational level, not being great at everything is nothing to be ashamed of. Failing at something means that you tried and now know that a different approach is required. Ideally, failing can be a learning experience. That is why I am determined to allow myself 12 chances to not shine next year. Every month, I will do something that I know I am not very good at. In February, for instance, I will give a presentation for my local business network. Public speaking terrifies me and it shows. If my presentation doesn’t go as smoothly as I would like it to, then my New Year’s resolution includes trying to not dwell on it. I would like to simply nod to myself and acknowledge that I am not ready for a public speaking career.
I have strong hopes that my 12 challenges won’t all turn out badly. Even if they do, I am convinced that by this time next year I will at least have become a little more fearless. Realizing that the world won’t stop if I don’t absolutely excel at something should serve me well in all aspects of life. It’s an act of kindness toward yourself to sincerely accept that you can still go out and do things, in spite of never being really good at them.
I wish all of you the best for 2015 and encourage you to allow yourselves to be less than perfect every now and then. Go write some bad poetry or bake that lopsided cake or nervously giggle your way through public speaking (which I’ll probably be doing in February) or rock that dance floor and let yourself enjoy it! See you next year.