I'll be honest here. The idea for this post came straight from the title of a recent entry on one of my favorite freelancing blogs "Act As If." I didn't even click through to read the post (bad! although I will, for sure, as soon as I publish this), but seeing the headline was inspiration enough. It gave me the swift-elbow-to-the-side I needed today.
I've been subscribing to the "act as if" principle for years now. I even keep a laminated printout discussing its merits in the back of my planner — yikes, it's dated August 21, 2000 — and, no joke, I print the saying in the footer of my homemade planner pages.
You've probably come across the simple premise behind the saying many times:
Your actions determine your reality.
So if you want to see your work (or anything in life) turn out a certain way, you need to act as if it will . . . or, act as if it already has.
Now, this does not mean that you should ignore reality. I can't act like I'm going to become a painter and !poof! become a painter. I have no painting talent and no painterly ambitions. But, I can act as if I can make a living as a writer. So act as if I do. I can act as if I'm in control of how my writing career shapes up. And so on. My behavior gets results.
Of course we all have days. Days in which we forget to act as if, forget to follow our best path. And I had one of those days yesterday. Nothing went wrong, exactly. It was a regular workday, with calls and correspondence and steady progress on my current manuscript. But in a weak, out-of-left-field moment, I almost signed up for a project of a type I've done many times in the past but had firmly decided I'd no longer do from 2009 onward. It just doesn't fit in with my goals any longer. Working on it would only make me step off my path — and for a couple of precious months at least.
Lucky for me, I slept on the offer. Even luckier, when I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to worry about it ('cause I knew I was flirting with a YES), I recalled having seen that "Act As If" blog title yesterday but failing to click through to the post.
That was all it took to shake the good sense back into me and remember why I bother to chart a course, to ever act as if. At the first hint of a reasonable hour this morning, I said no thank you to the writing work I didn't want. The sky stayed in place. The client wished me well and happily moved on.
As I sit at my desk this afternoon, I like the sense of calm I feel. It comes from knowing that NOT taking that gig has freed up a block of time I can fill with work that supports my pursuit of the "as ifs" that really interest me. Work that keeps me walking my path. And, naturally, the more work like that I do, the more work like that I will do. Until I move my mark again.