What I'm listening to while writing this: Vicious Wishes by Pageantry
I hope this post finds you well. I can't believe we're nearing the end of July so soon--it feels like it's just begun! Even so, just this past week, so much has happened, and therefore my life plan has shifted from becoming a big blogger to becoming an author. While I will still be writing weekly on my blog and growing my platform, my focus has shifted to book writing. Of course, this may change, but this is where I am currently, and I am officially working on my 3rd book.
If you're a regular reader (first off, you're awesome and thank you endlessly), you'd probably know that I've been configuring my life path and deciding on a direction for myself. In my post, Mindfulness and finding direction, I discuss how we don't always need a life path, and we can instead live day by day, not feeling too distraught when we find that our goals have changed. And, I can certainly say that I am finally living by this idea.
Earlier this week, I didn't know what to do about my blog anymore. Ideas were and still are piling up, which is a very good thing, but my will to write them had faltered. While I receive many readers and am grateful for each one, my view count wasn't growing, and in fact, had been going down. I'll admit that I was comparing myself to both friends and bloggers I looked up to, feeling so far from my goals of being a successful blogger, unsure how I'd even get there. (I made the decision to let go of comparing myself last week, which I shared in my last post here.) I was listening to a podcast episode about blogging when you're not seeing results, and the host shared that it takes about 3 to 5 years to see results, gain a decent following and maybe make an income, and the most important part of blogging is marketing, posting on Pinterest, growing your Facebook page, and so on. Not making good content, but crafting clever titles, almost like click bate, and getting your name out there.
It was after listening to this episode when the confusion arose. I didn't know what I really wanted. All I knew was that I didn't want that kind of life. Did I even want to be a blogger? What was I reaching to gain out of this? I knew, too, that I was just as happy when I had two readers compared to about twenty to forty. So what difference would 100 make?
Here I am, being so honest about my blogging struggles on my literal blog, but I think it's important to share how we feel on our blogs and offer valuable insight into specific subjects. This is also why I was so confused about what I wanted. I knew I didn't want tons of readers--I wanted to share what's on my mind, what's on my heart, and inspire others along the way, guide those who need it. Not write mediocre posts to blast all over Pinterest. So, why was I craving this big, giant, well-known blog?
Well, it's very simple--I was looking for outside validation.
It didn't care if my posts were magnificent, written straight from my heart. If I didn't receive "enough" validation from others, kind messages, or views, I'd crumble with defeat and rethink my entire website. When things got hard, or I wasn't getting out as much as I was getting in (or so I thought), I'd basically... give up.
When I was explaining my struggles with my life coach, she surprised me by redirecting the conversation to my possible need for outside validation. It came to my attention that, in many areas of my life that carried problems, had resulted in problems because I wasn't receiving the acknowledgment I wanted when really, it was there all along. It was then when I realized how important self-validation is, and how it can help us create the life we desire.
What is self-validation?
Self-validation is when we acknowledge our thoughts, feelings, and ideas without the support or acknowledgment from others. We trust ourselves and our own judgments and don't doubt ourselves along the way. We don't need to ask others how we look, or whether we're funny, or whether our book idea is okay--we can turn to ourselves and make our own conclusions. And if your goals or opinions change, you can make those choices without judgment. Self-validation is basically a form of self-love because self-validation encourages us to be our own support system, and encourages us to do anything we desire.
Of course, sometimes our views can be slightly skewed, which is why asking for help or advice can be a good thing. However, when we work on a passion project or aim toward something we really want, it's important to continue toward it not because other's suggest we do or help us along the way, but because we want to. And if someone tells us doing something is too challenging, not up our alley, or even not good, we can trust our gut and trust our desires and continue anyway.
How can self-validation help us create the life we desire?
I am actually going to walk you through a quick excercise that personally helped me figure out what I wanted.
Imagine that you live in a beautiful cottage in the woods, or near the beach, or anywhere that you've always wanted to live. There is no social media, and the only people there live nearby and are only people you love and are loved by unconditionally. Besides them, it is just you and your desires in this cottage. You can do absolutely anything you want, and that'll be your source of income, and regardless of what you choose, the income will be the same. And whatever you decide to do, the people in your life will support you and love you the same. If you're a book reviewer, or a movie producer, or a restaurant manager, they'll love you the exact same. There is no social media, so you can't ever post about what you're doing. And if you decide to be a blogger or online influencer, you'll receive the same amount of acknowledgment and community as everyone else, and every post will receive the same likes.
What do you do?
Sometimes we feel like we have to go a certain way in life because society wants us to, or people online want us to, or our family wants us to, or so on. But when we really sit back and ask ourselves what we want to do, and regardless of what we choose, we'll make the same income, live in the same place, and be equally validated, it can change our entire outlook.
I hope this excercise helped you find a passion you didn't know was there. When I walked myself through this excercise, I found that what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life was not blogging, nor being someone online, but being a writer. An author.
And this changed everything. It redirected my entire path, and suddenly a weight has been lifted, and while becoming a bestselling author, making a living off of creative writing is incredibly far right now, it's what I want to do... so why not?
As I said in the beginning, I still love blogging and have decided to continue writing posts each Sunday, dedicating more time for creative writing but still blogging. However, my focus has changed. I found that I was blogging for that quick boost of validation, and avoiding writing because it didn't offer as much. When I took away the guidance, the views, I realized that if I had the choice, I'd be known for my books, not just my blog.
Rather than worry about what others think, or worry about what we should be doing, try leaning into what you really, truly want to do, because this is your life, after all. Might as well make the most of it by working toward what we want!
And when we turn our focus to what we desire, we can carefully work to create the life we want by building upon those desires, not working in other areas to hopefully reach those desires, or always wanting the work toward those desires but never getting started.
How to practice self-validation
When I came up with this blog post idea this morning while journaling, I made it my goal to not wish for a certain amount of views or likes like I usually do. I simply wished that this post would be strong, full of great insight, clarity, and would reach the people who need it. I readjusted my focus from the number of views to the quality of the post, and I have never felt so calm while writing a post. I tapped into my inner writer, ordered a dark roast coffee, and dove in, without questioning whether anyone would actually read it.
Don't get me wrong, I care about the quality with every post I write, but as I mentioned before--I found that I was writing for that quick boost of outside validation, that little ounce of acknowledgment. I had lost track of my true reason for writing.
Here are some ways I have begun practicing self-validation!
1. Take the numbers and the end goal out of it
This may seem like a challenge at first, but the more we look at this, the more it makes sense. In my most recent read, Yoga and the Pursuit of Happiness by Sam Chase, Sam offered an interesting viewpoint on goals by explaining that when we give ourselves a reward after accomplishing something, it makes the task less enjoyable, which has been proven by psychological studies.
So, when we're writing a book with the goal of making a lot of money or writing a post aiming for it to reach many people or working out to look a certain way, it takes away from the action and refocuses the desire on the reward instead.
To really tap into our desires and to feel confident about them along the way, we can work to take away the goal, the end result, and tune into flow and the reason why we love this desire.
2. Return to your "why" when things get hard
Rather than turning to others for assurance right when things feel difficult, or if you aren't seeing results, practice returning to your why instead. Only you know best, and you already know why you started, why you're doing it--it's already inside. And if you don't know why, or if you come to find that your only source of why is that outside validation, maybe it's time to rethink your direction.
Write down why you love what you love. Explain why you want to be a nurse or an online influencer, and reflect on your writing when things feel difficult. Validate the way you feel, follow your emotions, maybe even take a break, and then return to your goals with that "why" in mind.
3. Avoid telling people what you're doing all the time
This is something I'm certainly not perfect at. I practically share everything with everyone, and I've come to find that it's probably because I'm searching for that outward validation. Of course, sometimes sharing things are both fun and helpful for others, but when we overshare, it doesn't really feel like our personal goals anymore, and it may be challenging to move forward on your own as you're not used to and perhaps even dependent on outward validation.
Keep these desires close to you. Don't let them run away or end up lost among conversations. If this goal truly means a lot to you, then try your best to keep it for you. And be your own cheerleader along the way!
I do hope that this post resonated with you if you decided to read it, and I also hope you enjoyed my openness and honesty. It's always a little frightening to pour your feelings onto an online blog post and submit it out into the world, but I do think that the more honest, the better, because no one is perfect.
Take time this week to validate your goals and desires. No goal is impossible, nor ridiculous. You can do it. And if it feels too challenging, return to that why, every time, and keep on moving.
A mantra for you to reflect on: I am loved and supported in all areas of my life.