Fake It til You Make It (Or how to start anyways)
According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase “Fake It til You Make It” means: to act like you are something so you can, in fact, become that thing.
James Clear has a great story on his blog about starting before you feel ready. Which, in my mind, is another way of saying “Fake It til You Make It”.
In doing some reading before writing this post, I found lots of opinions about the phrase “fake it til you make it.” Some were positive, some were negative, and some were a little of both. One of the ideas that most appealed to me was the idea of “fake it til you make it” as a placebo. In other words, even though you aren’t that thing (yet), if you act that way, you will become that way.
However, like anything in life, it takes work to make it happen. Sitting and wishing you are a published author won’t get you published. Doing the work that a published author does, sweating the sweat, walking the walk, that just might! You need to bridge the gap between where you think you are (which is not always accurate) and where you would like to be. Building a bridge requires a bit of sweat equity.
Following are some tools that might help you build that bridge to reaching the place you where would like to be. These tools can be used by anyone, not just aspiring authors!
And, just so you all know, I’m writing this post as much for myself as I am for you, my readers!
A shift in your body language helps you portray confidence but also it can help change the way you perceive yourself. This is the idea presented by social psychologist, Amy Cudder in her 20 minute TED Talk on Power Poses: bodies change minds, minds change behavior, behavior changes outcomes. In other words, fake it til you become it. This video is well worth the 20 minutes to view it.
If you do a Google search for Power Poses images, you will see a few you can try. Probably the most famous one would be the “Wonder Woman” pose. Holding it for 2 minutes actually shifts your hormone balance giving you a boost of confidence and lowering stress. Pretty nifty! I’m going to do this every time I need to write a query letter!
Want to incorporate this into your everyday exercise routine? Try the Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana) in Yoga. Richard Rosen, a contributing editor to Yoga Journal says this about it: “I speculate that Virabhadrasana I is about rising up out of your own limitations.” Sound familiar?
This 5 minute YouTube video by Ekhart Yoga has an excellent explanation of the Warrior Pose.
Add to the Power Poses
Power Poses and “faking it” are stepping stones to getting to where you want to be, but there is more! Pretending to be confident will definitely make you feel more confident, but the poses alone aren’t going to create confidence. You need to internalize it. According to an article on Psychology Today by Susan Harrow, it is an “iterative behavioral process to see if you can keep your “pose,” and thus change your brain chemistry consistently, as Cuddy suggests. It’s under pressure we see the measure of how we respond in situations that test our mettle and reveal our fallback response.”
Practice and Learn
Feeling a lack of confidence in a particular task? Practice it! The sensation of fear or uncomfortable-ness dulls with repetition.
Feeling like you don’t know enough? Get specific and name one thing - only one! Now go and learn it. Confidence comes from both experience and knowledge.
Have you ever read to or with a young reader? When they stumbled over words or became hesitant what did you say? “Give up, you’ll never learn how to read!” or did you say something like “Try it again, you can do it. The more you read the easier it gets.” So, what’s different here?
Things to stop
Stop telling yourself you can’t and stop telling yourself that you’re not good enough. You can do thousands of power poses and practice and learn, but you also need to change that snarky little internal voice that keeps telling you that you can’t. Each time you hear that voice, you need to talk back to it with some positive words. “I CAN do it.” “I AM good enough.”
The practicing and learning is a big step to building confidence. Knowing that you are doing what authors do and learning what authors learn will help quell that other internal voice that says you’re lying. I’m assuming I’m not the only one who has heard that voice. Right?
When You Really Really Aren’t Feeling It
There are days when you just aren’t going to feel it. You are going to want to throw away the pen and crawl under the covers with a box of chocolate. Here are a few suggestions to help you through those days.
- Remember to do your power poses.
- Read, listen to, or watch something inspirational
- List what you’ve already done - and reward yourself for it!
- Ask someone who believes in you to tell you why.
- Check your game plan. Don’t have one? Perhaps it’s time to make one.
- Meditate - taking a step back and muting the static in our heads can sometimes refresh our perspective.
- Remember why you started in the first place.
Remember that losing and failure are part of the game. A professional baseball players miss the ball (a lot), the cracker jack lawyer doesn’t get the desired decision, the famous author’s novel hits the discount shelf. It happens all the time. It’s part of life and doesn’t make you an imposter or a fake. It makes you real.
Show Up and Do the Work
No matter how you feel, show up and do the work...consistently. Eventually it will feel more natural. Holding back robs the world of your unique voice and what you have to offer. And, you have a lot to offer!
How do you work through not feeling ready?