One of my very best friends uses an excellent phrase that I’ve been adopting more and more in my everyday life.
She calls it ‘Hitting the f*ck it button’.
You do it when you’re just DONE. Done worrying, done being afraid, and done doing what you think everybody expects you to do. You hit the f*ck it button and find the courage to see where it takes you.
And mate, it’s a great button. I encourage you to bring it into your life.
I realise I’m using it every time something SCARES THE LIVING SHITE OUT OF ME but I do it anyway. Let me give you some examples of where it’s really come in handy.
This one time, I met my husband.
I was NOT in the mood the night I met Leon. But it was a friend’s birthday and the last night of the second year at university so, sure, I went out. My friends had been telling me how great this guy was for ages and I remained cynical. I’d met guys before and they’d not always been so great. But BOLLOCKS TO IT, I thought, I can say hi. So I walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder and said hello. Such behaviour was profoundly out of character for me, but I’d hit the button. I had nothing to lose and, as it turned out, absolutely everything to gain.
Another time, I buggered off to Australia for a bit.
Two years ago, my husband had the opportunity to go and work abroad for a few weeks. And I was just about to be between jobs so I decided to go with him. It felt insane as I didn’t know what I’d do when we got back, but when else were we going to go to AUSTRALIA? I rang my friend – coiner of the ‘f*ck it button’ – to ask if it was a good idea. She said “Well, you rang me, so you’re clearly looking for a yes because OBVIOUSLY that’s what I’ll say”. (Isn’t it funny how who we choose to go to for advice tells us everything we need to know about the advice we’re looking to hear?). So I found the courage, hit that button and I went. And it remains some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
We decided to try and have a baby.
If you thought too much about having a baby, I swear nobody would ever do it. Like, if you really considered in detail the likely pain and discomfort and the lifetime of WORRY, how would anybody find the courage? So, this is where the button comes in handy. I knew we wanted to have a baby (and that we were in as good a position as possible in our lives to go for it etc. etc.) so I couldn’t let fear get in the way. I told myself I would worry about the detail of the birth and parenthood once the baby was in existence. And now, here we are. I’m 25 weeks pregnant and taking it day by day.
I took up freelance writing.
Sometimes I have lots of work and sometimes I have none. And the only way I can get more work is by putting myself out there. By coming up with ideas and sending them out to people. By gathering the courage to email strangers to ask if they’d like to give me money in exchange for words. And apart from the message I write in my correspondence I have no control over what they think of me. There is every chance that every one of them will think I am a moron. But if I DON’T contact anybody, I’ll get nowhere. So every week I hit that button and I keep on trying.
It really is a marvellous device and I’m proud of myself every time I push it.
Thank goodness for Big Magic
Another excellent woman who encourages similar behaviour is Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Big Magic – Creativity Beyond Fear.
I love reading books and articles designed to give you the courage to be braver, and this one had the most profound impact. The combination of this book and the knowledge that the best things in life happen when you hit the f*ck it button have given me the courage I needed to be bolder.
Big Magic is about not letting fear stop you from doing what you want to do, and creating what you want to create. I took so much from this book but these are my favourite lessons:
- Do it because you love it – everything else that comes of it is a bonus.
- If you don’t pursue your great idea, before long somebody else will.
- You have to accept that fear will inevitably always be with you. You just can’t let it guide your decisions.
- Anything bad for you is bad for your work (with the exception of Jaffa Cakes, I’m assuming).
- If you get a no, move on and offer your idea/work/whatever to someone else.
- Done is better than perfect.
- OF COURSE you have the right to be creative, you have that by just being alive. You don’t need anybody’s permission.
- Don’t worry about being original, be authentic.
- Don’t actively try to write something that helps people. Just write and if it helps then GREAT.
If you’re following any kind of creative dream, I really recommend reading it. If nothing else, you’ll find you’re suddenly out of excuses not to give whatever you want to do a try.
Fear is boring, because fear only ever has one thing to say to us, and that thing is: ‘STOP!'” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Getting older has given me feel a much greater, more urgent need to be brave. Because with everyday that I’m not, it’s only me that loses out.
So I’m going to keep Big Magic’s lessons front of mind, and I’m going to carry on creating without fear (or at least without paying too much attention to fear). And I’m going to keep on hitting that beloved f*ck it button.
Because life just keeps getting more interesting every time I do.