When I’m on my mat at a yoga class, surrounded by graceful, twisty pretzel-type people, I don’t usually feel like my chakras are aligning, or opening. I’m usually wondering how many more chair poses I have to endure, or if my neighbor has noticed how violently my legs are shaking.
There’s another thing I’m always asking myself, and that’s, “am I doing this right?”
Am I holding my arm high enough? Am I flexible enough to move my leg that way? Is my breath ujjayi enough?
When I started writing, and when I moved into the sphere of professional marketing, the same type of questions constantly flew around my brain.
Is this headline catchy enough? Is this blog post friendly enough for SEO? Is my writing strong enough? Is what I’m doing, and what our marketing team is doing, standing out enough in the industry?
Enough for who? Or what? Where is the bar, and am I even close to it? Frustration ensued.
In a power vinyasa class last year, one of my favorite instructors, Michelle, set an intention for our class that I carried with me off my mat that day. It’s become a daily mantra for me.
“You are enough.”
It continues to provide an answer to my questions of self-doubt. I am enough, because I decide what “enough” means. Yes, I am holding my arm high enough. No, I’m not flexible enough to move my leg that way, and that’s fine because I’m not trying out for the Olympic gymnastics team. Yoga has meaning for me, and it doesn’t involve becoming a twisty pretzel-person.
The “you are enough” philosophy has wiggled its way into my writing and approach to work. I didn’t realize it until I was forced to look at some older, obscure blog posts and emails I wrote, and cringed at how blah they were.
The blahness didn’t stem from a lack of effort. In fact, the more I read, the more I noticed that the problem was actually the opposite. I was overly focused on coming up with cutesy phrases and peppering my paragraph with buzzwords. A ton of time was spent researching topics for blog posts I thought were interesting, but that didn’t resonate with our subscribers.
It turns out the blahness was born from a lack of self-awareness and self-sufficiency. In yoga-speak, I had been trying too hard to do poses that were not part of my practice, when I should’ve been focusing on the strengths I had, and how to exercise them.
I had everything I needed to create compelling content — a well-defined audience, a passion for the subject, and a solid writing background.
I was just too busy worrying about everyone else’s standards to do it.
Maybe you’re like me, a writer on a team developing a voice for their brand. Or maybe you’re a freelancer who dreams of contributing to heavy-hitting publications, but can’t seem to find your stride.
I’ve found that if I think like a yogi, and move in directions that are authentic to me, two things happen.
First, the quality of work improves, because I am not trying to imitate someone or something else. I think about the reader, and the audience as a whole, rather than my own weaknesses or ambitions. I think about the why, instead of the what.
Second, the process is FAR less stressful and FAR more fun. I’m not gauging my work against other writers’ or brands’ and that is incredibly freeing. It’s the equivalent of fully expressing myself in a pose, without worrying whether it looks as graceful as the next person’s.
Don’t get me wrong, doubt is a loyal companion for creative types. It drives us to perpetually be editing and improving. And it keeps us from getting paid too much! #SomeJokesHurt
Rather than taking that doubt and looking to others for answers, take a deeper dive internally by answering these three questions:
- Does it sound this was written specifically by me, or by my brand/company?
- If not, how can I adjust so that it does sound like it was specifically written by me, or by my brand/company?
- Am I writing this for my specific audience?
In Michelle’s words, return to your own breath.
You (or your brand/company/pitch/product) are enough.