by Lynn Riskedal | October 6, 2010
Do you ever have one of those “OMG, WHAT was I thinking?” moments. That panic that happens when you are challenging yourself?
Followed closely with ‘I can’t do this’
I had them while I worked on my dissertation.
I had them while I trained for my first marathon ( and the second one). Usually somewhere in the middle of those long runs.
There are several possible responses. All might actually apply.
–Stopping. Just plain deciding to stop. There are, afterall, multiple reasons for stepping out.
–Deferring. Pushing back the targeted event to allow a longer training/working opportunity.
–Ignoring the feeling and keep doing what I’ve been doing.
–Shifting to work on something I DO understand.
–Taking a deep breath.
–Taking a brief break.
–Resetting committment to self.
Wait…what did I say a few sentences ago? “Shifting to work on something I DO understand.”
So, what is the reason for the ‘OMG’ feeling? Figure that out and that will help you decide your next steps.
The running metaphor fits. The training runs train your body, but there is as much, or more, mental component to training for and running an event, particularly a longer event. The mental part of running comes in when you doubt yourself and the reason why you started this effort in the first place. To get over that mental doubt, one really needs to understand the underlying factor.
In writing my dissertation, there were things I just didn’t know how to do, or I didn’t understand….a component of the research method, or what order to discuss my points, or how the whole thing fit together.
Once I understood what my problem was, I could then dig into resolving it, by reading, pondering, asking, and keep on writing and rewriting and rewriting. If I continued to spin my wheels wondering what was wrong with me, I didn’t move forward. It takes a while to recognize the OMG feeling.
Stop and determine what the issues are (there are, undoubtely, more than one).
Ask questions of learning colleagues, yourself, your mentor, without expectation of a definative answer. The mere exercise of articulating the issue will help bring clarity.
Bottom line: to get to the finish line, one needs to take one step at a time. One needs to do the work to prepare for getting to the start line, then getting to the finish line.
And in the process, one needs to examine one’s goals, motivations, fears and disappointments. And manage each of those.
When one undertakes a significant event, One learns as much about themselves as the subject matter.