So you had an idea – a blog, a play, a business – some project you’ve been wanting to create for a while.
You managed to overcome the forces that had stopped you in the past. You surmounted the odds and poured your heart into this thing, this masterpiece.
But now it’s launch day.
You take a deep breath and strike the (literal or proverbial) “Publish” button. Your work is now live. It’s public. You’re public. You’re a public person.
And that’s when the panic hits.
Shame, self-doubt, terror. Absolute certainty that what you just sent out to the entire world is the most horrendous, painfully embarrassing thing anyone has ever created in the HISTORY OF MANKIND.
What the sh** were you thinking?!
The Dreaded Pattern of “Gleedoom”
How often do you experience what I described above? If you’re doing things right, the answer should be “fairly often.”
It happened to me after I launched Puttylike. It happened after I published the first podcast episode and posted my first video to YouTube. It happened when I first announced my coaching services, and again when I raised my rates. It used to happen every time I finished writing a song, submitted a design to a client or gave a presentation of any form.
To be honest, it’s happening to me right now, as I question my choice of the word “gleedoom”… Heh.
This pattern is experienced by nearly everyone who steps out of their comfort zone.
Lets break it down:
GLEE: absolute certainty that your creation is destined to touch the hearts and minds of anyone who comes into contact with it. It’s brilliance, pure brilliance.
Which is then inevitably followed by…
DOOM: absolute certainty that you are an IDIOT!
It’s a Sign that You’re Doing Things Right
Okay first of all, the pattern of gleedoom is a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. It happens when you ship something meaningful out into the world.
Steven Pressfield writes about how Resistance is a sign that you’re creating something central to your purpose. The more resistance you feel, the more important the work. So use the presence of self-doubt as a sign that you’re on the right track.
Remember #failweek? Failure is Success
I know Failure Celebration Week is over and all, but the principle still remains: the more you fail, the more you win.
And hell, if your project does turn out to be a big flop, you can still use the hashtag #failweek to brag about it! Just cc me (@emiliewapnick) on Twitter. I’d be happy to help you celebrate (and feel better about) your failures.
Seriously, if you’re going to fail, make it a big one. Fail epically.
Getting Over the Feeling of DOOM
Alright, you shipped. You sent your baby out into the world. And now, instant shame. How do you move on?
1. Expect “Doom”s Arrival and Know that it’s Temporary
I used to get hit with a tidal wave of self-doubt immediately after recording a podcast episode. At first I didn’t recognize the pattern. I just spent the rest of my Sunday evening, in a horrible mood, utterly convinced that I was an idiot. But the next day I would listen back and be pleasantly surprised, “Hm- this is actually pretty good”…
This used to happen every single week. Fun recording session followed by a knot in the pit of my stomach for the rest of the night and then a clear realization the next day that it was actually not bad.
After a few weeks I began seeing the pattern, anticipating it and even mocking it. Oh, here comes the self-doubt. Yup, here we go again.
Expecting the doom and recognizing it for what it is (a normal, fleeting state), goes a long way toward taking the power out of it.
2. Take a Break
When you’re feeling the DOOM, you’re in an hopelessly negative state. You will only see your errors. Any brilliance in your creation will be overshadowed by the tiniest of faults. Don’t even bother looking it over now.
Put your project aside for the rest of the day. As tempting as it is to want to scrutinize your work and over-think people’s reactions, don’t. Instead, go do something else. Make plans with a friend, get out of the house.
3. Wallow (or Imagine Yourself Wallowing) to the Point of Ridiculousness
If you feel like sulking, go sulk. Feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Even better, place yourself (or just visualize yourself) in a state so pitiful and embarrassing that it’s hilarious.
For example, imagine yourself crying in the bathtub with mascara running down your cheeks and really depressing music swelling in the background. (Or if you’re not a big crier, just curl up in a ball and blast the aforementioned 90’s anthem.)
Turning a negative image into something so extreme that it’s funny is a great way to replace negative thoughts with more empowering ones. Think of the most overly-dramatic scenario imaginable. Really visualize it. Try to crack yourself up.
The point here is to see the doom as a temporary state, and one that is completely overblown. Your fears are trying to fool you into thinking things are worse than they really are. Don’t you let ’em!
4. Don’t Seek External Validation
This may sound counterintuitive, but in these moments you should limit the amount of reassurance you seek out from friends and family. It’ll often backfire.
Sure, hearing about how talented you are might make you feel better in the moment, but this feeling is fleeting. Compliments are nice, but they’re a poor foundation for self-esteem.
Getting the occasional “buck up! You’re awesome” from a loved one is okay. Just be careful. Continuously seeking out validation from others makes you feel weaker because it actually reinforces your reliance on others. It’s a counterintuitive cycle: you feel helpless, so you see out validation, but the more validation you seek, the more helpless you feel. It’s the opposite of self-empowerment.
You want to derive your core value internally, not have it be dependent upon other people’s reactions- be they good or bad.
After the Storm
Once you make it through the gleedoom, a sort of clarity takes hold. You’re now able to assess the project from a more rational perspective. Perhaps your work really is as brilliant as you initially thought or maybe there are some things you could improve.
But now that you’re not feeling hopelessly negative, you might actually be able to appreciate what you’ve built.
This pattern tends to dissipate the more you ship. I’m no longer convinced that every blog post or podcast episode I publish is terrible. However, as soon as I step out of my comfort zone and try something new, the pattern reemerges. And hell, us scanners are always trying new things, so you had better learn to handle this.
Do you ever feel completely foolish after launching a new project? How have you dealt with this self-doubt in the past?