#107: How I Stopped Worrying About What Others Think

“Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’
- which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.”

–Maya Angelou, Poet and Author

In This Issue:

How I Stopped Worrying About What Others Think
by Krista Jones

Someone recently asked me which part of my career was the hardest for me. Was it getting through AWAI’s copywriting program, honing the craft, or landing jobs?

Each of those phases presented its own challenges, but when I cut through all the layers, one thing was always there.

Developing self-confidence.

Gaining confidence in yourself and your writing doesn’t come with finishing a course or landing a client. It’s a process that unfolds as you do. For me that meant doing something I was unaccustomed to: Putting myself out there.

No matter how many positive thoughts and visualizations I had about becoming a successful copywriter, I knew my copywriting skills weren’t going to improve the way they needed to just by me practicing all by myself. I was going to have to let people who were better writers and marketers take a crack at my copy if I was going to make it in the industry.

Unfortunately that inner knowing didn’t stop my hands from shaking the first several times I sent copy off to someone for review.

Once I cleared the “just send the copy” hurdle, I had to ready myself for the more formidable one just ahead. I had to figure out how to get past criticism without taking it personally and, more importantly, losing my balance and falling.

I didn’t expect to be able to accept criticism with total grace on the first go round. I just hoped I had the grit to keep putting myself out there.

After several months of sending copy to my coach, colleagues, and clients, I finally not only believed, but I knew in my heart that when someone reviews a promotion, website, or article that I’ve written, he or she is just critiquing the writing, not me.

It’s not always easy, but each time I learn from a critique, success, or failure, my self-confidence goes up a notch—and I worry a little less about what others think.

Giving every piece I write the time and attention it deserves also helps me cut back on worry. When I finally send something off, I know I’ve done the best I can do at that time. And that makes it much easier to let the copy—and the worrying about what others will think of it—go just moments after I click send.

Throughout this letting go process, I’ve drifted away from the model girl-child who used to do whatever it took to avoid discord and poor grades.

These days I’m less willing to please others at the expense of myself. I can greet uncertainty and even displeasure with at least a measure of calm. And I’ve become a woman I never knew I wanted to be: imperfect, but drawing strength from those imperfections.

Truth be told, putting myself out there still doesn’t come natural to me. Each time I create something new, I feel I am once again offering my exposed self to clients and readers and saying, “What do you think of me now?”

And then, I do it all over again.

Resource Referral: A Practical Guide to Letting Go

As human beings, it’s natural to care about others—and what they think. But I think you’ll agree that it’s hard to create art (or simply live your life) if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder.

One thing that helped me stop worrying too much about what other people think is a little book called The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra.

This book helped me become what Deepak calls “self-referred” rather than “object-referred.” When you are object-referred, you are always influenced by things outside of yourself and seeking the approval of others. Deepak’s words showed me that my thinking and behavior was totally based in fear because I was always anticipating a response. Not a very empowering way to live.

The Seven Spiritual Laws helped me overcome that way of thinking—among many other things.

I encourage you to get a copy of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. It’s an inexpensive, fast read that can help you develop a success consciousness in all areas of your life.

Quick Life Tip: Is It Time for a Break?

For the first three years of my copywriting career, I worked so hard learning the craft and meeting deadlines that I rarely took a full day off. Although I seldom worked a full schedule on weekends, I generally put in a good three to six hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

I worked like this despite the fact that productivity gurus like Brian Tracy said that it’s critical to take at least one day off each week to revitalize. I read somewhere (forgive me, I can’t remember where) that the typical high-achieving person operates at 25 to 40 percent effectiveness during a typical day without taking breaks. But when people take breaks and a full day off work each week, their effectiveness range goes up to 35 to 80 percent.

I’ve learned my lesson and these days I almost always manage to take short breaks throughout the day as well as one day off a week. The effects show in my attitude, clarity, and effectiveness.

It’s not easy to condition yourself to take full days off when you’re transitioning into a new career or expanding a business. But nothing worthwhile ever is.