Learning to ask for help

I’m in the middle of a couple of big, valuable, but tiring and potentially overwhelming projects.

One is a paper I’m writing with a small, all-volunteer group, on behalf of an organization I’m a devoted member of. There’s a lot of conflict and dissension involved—not on our writing team, but around the situation that we’re being asked to write about. The conflict is no surprise, but it adds to the stress and fatigue.

The other is a corporate training program I’m creating—also, interestingly, having to do with conflict, negotiation, and communication.

I have confidence (in the abstract) that both projects will turn out well. But the process of creating them has been or threatens to be more painful and difficult than I think is necessary. That’s a pattern for me, and I’d like to break it.

One way to do that is to see if I can make steady progress, in short work sessions, rather than bingeing (as Robert Boice calls it).

Another is to depart from my lone wolf approach. After all those years as a freelance writer, I’m used to Doing Everything Myself. I’m not in the habit of asking for help.

Changing my m.o.

For the writing project, which I’m currently editing, my usual m.o. is to try to mind-read the other contributors and come up with the perfect phrasing to express what I think everybody means. The alternative I intend to try is to get the other committee members on the phone and hash it out together. In fact, that’s how we were working during the conceptual phase, before the actual writing started. But somehow when the dreaded draft phase began, we fell into the more isolated pattern where one person writes, then passes it on to the next person for revision, who passes it on to me for editing. Discussing it in community would be less stressful and more productive, I believe.

For the training program, I’m putting out a call for support buddies on my favorite online forums. Maybe I can check in with them with progress reports (thereby helping with goal #1, steady progress) (yay accountability!) and for regular cheerleading. And especially for brainstorming and bouncing ideas around.

So that’s the plan. Asking for help. Not sure why this has always been so hard for me. Fear of rejection? Maybe just forgetting it’s an option, after having been self-employed for so long? I don’t need know the Why, so much, at this point, but I’m hereby declaring my intention to change the What.

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