Pretend you’re good at it.

May 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm 1 comment

Best advice ever? I think so.

I got it from this interview with Jenny Lawson, a blogger and an author. I haven’t checked out Jenny’s actual blog, but this interview she did at The Happiness Project caught my attention, specifically this part:

Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself, “No calculation.”)

There is one that Neil Gaiman shared with me when I was having a terrible time working on my audio book.  I was so afraid of messing up that I couldn’t appreciate something that should be so fun so he told me “Pretend you’re good at it.”  I wrote it on my arm and it worked.  I used that mantra every damn day.

“Pretend you’re good at it” sums up in words how I approach new challenges at work and in life. When I don’t think that way, the self-doubt that creeps in can be so destructive that my project or task ends up not going well – or not even getting done.

The best example for me is cooking. I’ve detailed my challenges in the kitchen before. I really think these challenges come from my attitude about cooking. I approach cooking thinking “well this is going to be a disaster, because I surely cannot (fill in the blank) prepare chicken, chop these veggies right, not make a mess, etc.” And what do you know? It ends up being a disaster.

What if I approached cooking the way I do some other things in my life, like running? I pretend I’m good at running. I did not actually think I could run ten miles, but I pretended like hell – and it worked. It is the same thing with the marathon I signed up for: I am going to pretend during my training that I am a good runner and that I can do this.

I think this way at work, too, when I have to take on something new, liking making pitch calls to reporters. And it really does work – confidence is so huge for me to convince myself to try something new or to have a project go smoothly, and pretending I’m good at something sparks that confidence. Pretty soon I’ve actually done it, and my real confidence soars, and I’m headed places I never thought possible (cheesy but true).

I suppose “pretend you’re good at it” is the optimistic version of another phrase I like, which is “I can’t do this, but I’m doing it anyway.” In both cases, it’s glossing over the negative self-doubt that would otherwise take over, and pushing forward to getting it done. And, really, I just like to get things done.

So: “Pretend you’re good at it.” It’s really that simple. Who knew?


Entry filed under: Career. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Marathon Mental Block « Undefined Ambition  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

    […] from my responsibilities at work and for my volunteer life. Now that I really think about it, my decision to register for a marathon was really about “going off the path” – running a marathon is not a creative […]


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