The Amazing Thing That Happens When You Finally Start Paying Attention

Allison Burney

Ask yourself this simple but profound question

Photo Credit: Erb Institute Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve recently decided once again (for about the 50th time), that yes, I am a writer.

This decision sparked a promise to myself that every single day, I would write a minimum of 500 words, no matter what!, meaning no ifs, ands, or buts. No excuses. No getting out of it.

What this decision didn’t do, though, was magically cure me of my constant battle against procrastination.

The Blank Page Battles Begin

Some days I don’t want to write. Some days I sit down, open up my laptop, and stare at a blank page for an hour because nothing (I mean no thought — NOTHING!) is coming to me. Sometimes I’d rather do anything but write. Sometimes I do do anything but write — cleaning the house, binge-watching Netflix, eating peanut butter out of the jar included.

But even on those days, no matter how much time I’ve wasted on procrastination, I still make myself write before I’m allowed to go to bed. I sit there and wait until something comes to me and my fingers start typing words, and I don’t allow myself to stop until my word count reads at least 500.

For the past 11 months now, I have been writing every single day. Sometimes it winds up being much more than 500 words (even double that), and other days I get to 501 and immediately close my laptop.

The point is, I’m doing it. I made the commitment, and now I’m going to follow through.

A Simple, Yet Profound Question

Part of my “I’m a writer again” journey has been to re-do the writing courses I signed up for a long time ago, to help me get focused again and to help bring the message I want to share with the world back to the forefront.

One of the most insightful lessons for me was about creating cornerstone content for your blog, the fundamental things that every reader who comes to your blog will want to read about. It’s the kind of articles that you’ll be referring to over and over again months and years later, as you grow your blog and your readership.

In order to understand what your cornerstone content will be about, writer Jeff Goins advises that you first ask yourself a few questions.

The one that would end up changing it all for me was, “What do people always ask me about?”

Without giving it much thought, the obvious answer that came to me right away was: “What are you doing these days? What are you up to?”

It seemed a bit silly to me, but I wrote it down anyway.

At the time, I didn’t know that the answer to this one question would end up being such a profound realization for me.

My Shame Speaks

You see, for a long time, I’ve been ashamed of the fact that people are constantly asking me what I’m currently doing with my life. To me, it meant that people see me as uncommitted or unreliable. I’ve feared that people see me as unpredictable and volatile.

I’m that person who’s constantly bouncing around, trying out all different things, seemingly dipping my feet into everything. Some of these things I’ve stayed with longer than others, but I’m never without some new “thing” or adventure or plan or job, even if it’s only a new book I’m reading or a new course I’m taking.

Being this way has always felt comfortable to me, even though it sometimes seems to make others uncomfortable.

I’m just doing what feels natural and “right” to me — experimenting, trying new things, learning my likes from my dislikes, finding my way. At the same time, though, I sometimes get the feeling that others see me as simply “lost.” My way of life seems confusing to others, and difficult for them to accept.

As a result, I’ve spent the past decade caught somewhere between following my heart and trying to fit in and do what is “expected” of me.

Rediscovering My “Thing”

It was at this point in the lesson that Jeff brought up the revelation Derek Sivers had once had, that what’s obvious to you is amazing to others.

This realization caused Derek to ask, “What if being a genius is just doing what feels natural to you, and then sharing it with the world?”

Well, what’s obvious to me is wanting to be better, and wanting to continuously learn, grow, stretch myself, dream, challenge myself, change it up, and try new things.

What’s obvious to me is that life is more exciting when it’s full of variety and options and possibilities and opportunities.

What if all I’m meant to do is continue following my curiosity, my desire for growth, my thirst for self-improvement, my quest for knowledge? What if constant change and forward motion and seeking new experiences is where my gifts lie?

What if this is who I am, and not just another stop along my trail of confusion?

The Path Becomes Clearer

When I realized this, I couldn’t believe how much it opened up for me. Maybe this is my specialty. Maybe my constant quest for self-improvement and personal development is my expertise.

And all this time, I’ve been ashamed of it!

It’s amazing what can happen when you finally start paying attention to what your life is telling you.

What do people ask you about all the time?

Is it possible that this is where your expertise could lie?

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Freelance writer & proofreader. I love travel, reading, coffee, and exploring nature. On a mission to keep learning, growing, and enjoying this adventure we call life.


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