How to Get Over Yourself and Do Your Best Work


Have y’all ever had periods of extreme increased self-awareness and growth? The kind that happens for no particular reason; no life-changing experience prompted it, it just sort of evolved because the timing was right…

That is how I feel as I look back and reflect over 2018. No single great thing happened, but everything added up equals a pretty amazing year.

This newfound insight has served me well in every area of my life, but it has had the biggest impact on my professional life and my work.

I’ve been working in a professional office environment as an architect for twelve years, and while I haven’t always loved every second of it (in fact I’ve been trying to escape it a good portion of that time) it is as deeply a part of who I am as any other aspect of my life. This year, I’ve finally learned to embrace this part of myself in a way I’ve never been able to do before. I’ve finally learned to see her not as a separate part of myself that goes through the motions every day to pay the bills and put food on the table while the real me waits till after hours to pursue her passions, but as an integral part of myself with access to all my mental, emotional, creative, and intellectual abilities.

This has been a subtle but very distinct mindset shift for me and over the past year, I have gradually come to realize a few very simple truths:

1. The reason I’m not yet where I want to be in my career is not a lack of talent or ability; it’s a lack of confidence and focused effort.

And also maybe an unwillingness to fully commit and give it my all (due to said lack of confidence).

For years, I would beat myself up for not knowing certain things at work. I would convince myself that I just wasn’t cut out for certain aspects of the job because I didn’t intuitively know how to do them. The sad fact is, if I’d put that same time and energy toward actually learning the skills I lacked rather than complaining and beating myself up, I would be much better off. I realized that I was expending all my effort by whining and complaining and I was giving all my power away, rather than simply buckling down and doing the hard work.

Of course, I truly had no idea I was doing this at the time. I wasn’t able to see beyond my fears and my insecurities and my limiting beliefs to recognize that I was in control all along. I didn’t realize that no one has to give me permission to take the next step, I just have to be willing and ready to assume the responsibilities as they arise and are available to me, and I have to trust in my ability to learn and figure things out as I go.

2. When I see someone else effortlessly doing something that I long to do, I need to recognize that they have probably intentionally and consistently developed those skills or habits over time. And I can do the same.

I’ve always put a lot of value on my “natural” abilities, my “strengths”, my intuitive knowledge and what comes easy to me. For most of my professional career, I have been searching for a place and time where the stars align and I’m in my sweet spot - doing things that I love, that I’m good at, and that come easy to me. Of course, this place and time does not exist, especially if I want to continuously learn and grow in my career. And this year has taught me that life and work are not supposed to be easy. Even if you passionately love your work, it is still supposed to challenge and stretch you and continuously call you toward a better version of yourself.

I’ve also started to learn the incredible value of setting “forward thinking goals.” These are habits and behaviors that you intentionally cultivate because you know you will need them in a position or a role or a situation that you aspire to. You may not necessarily use them where you are in life now, but they are the skills you need to take you where you want to go.

I have always struggled with speaking in front of an audience. I am truly terrible at it. It would be so nice if I could just strike public speaking from my goals and accept the fact that I suck at it, and never do it again. But I can’t. I feel drawn to it. I feel like it is something that I need to conquer, something that I need to prove to myself and I cannot let it go. So I do things that require me to develop those skills. I teach classes. I speak up in meetings. I joined Toastmasters. And it takes an enormous amount of effort for me to make myself do these things, but it does get a little easier each time and that is the whole point.

We have to practice the things we struggle with until they become natural to us. Most people are not automatically good at most things. They do it over and over until they figure it out. So, instead of sitting on the sidelines, avoiding jumping into something we yearn for because we think we don’t have what it takes, we need to understand that we can learn what we don’t know. We can practice and improve our weaknesses. There is no excuse to wait one more second to jump in and get started.

3. If I want to be a certain type of person or do a certain type of work, I have to be willing to do what it takes to do that. I have to be willing to grow into that.

For years, I wanted to be a project manager. But I despised calling people up and asking them for things. I resented having to shoot the breeze and build relationships. I was timid and reluctant to take charge in meetings. And so for years I assumed that I was not cut out to be a project manager because I wasn’t good at those things. But over time I realized this: if I want to be a PM, I have to ACT LIKE ONE. I can’t avoid and deflect the very tasks that the position requires. HELLO. This was life-changing for me. The only decision I really had to make was whether or not I was willing to do what it takes. I finally realized that the types of skills that I lacked are not necessarily natural God-given abilities, meaning I CAN LEARN AND DEVELOP THEM. Which also means: I have been procrastinating and deflecting and avoiding the very work that I need to be doing. Which means: I have to suck it up and do it and understand that it is supposed to be uncomfortable and stop complaining about it. And if I’m not able or willing to do this, I need to move on to something else. Period.

Of course, sometimes, we’re not ready to move to the next level. And that’s OK. Maybe there is something we need to learn, a life experience we need to gain, some growth we need to experience, before we’re ready. Sometimes, when we long for something more, but we simply cannot bring ourselves to do what it takes to get there, it’s best to just let it go for a bit. Focus on something else for a while, let ourselves get lost in the process of learning other things, gaining different experiences. Then, if it still calls to us, we can come back to the thing later to see if we’re ready.

It’s incredibly uncomfortable to grow into a new role or a new version of ourselves. Oftentimes, I have felt like a fraud, worried that at any moment someone will call me out as the imposter that I am, or secretly mock me behind my back. But I realized that all this irrational fear really boils down to is worrying way too damn much what other people think of me. A fear of being rejected or of not being liked or some other nonsense like that. I actually let this hold me back for far too long until I finally realized that I was just going to have to get the hell over myself and do what I needed to do.

And that’s what 2018 was all about for me- honoring and embracing this transition in my heart and my work, and learning how to do what it takes to achieve my professional goals.

Honor the struggle. Stop being mad and bitter that you have to do the work.

Brendan Burchard

What about you? Have you had a similar mindset shift in some area of your life? Where did you experience your biggest growth in 2018?

Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2019

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

It's Yours If You Want It


That's what this week is all about for me.

Sometimes it takes shaking things up a bit to make us realize how blessed we really are.



I've had a hell of a couple of weeks.

Some big things are going on at work, and at home, and I've been stressed to the max.

Sometimes we come to a crossroads in life.  Or in our relationships.  Or our career. 

Sometimes we have to make a choice.  Make a turn in one direction or another, or stay where we are. 

I had a choice this week.  A big one.  I was told "It's yours if you want it" regarding more than one opportunity.

I had put myself out there, asked for something that I believed impossible, and the response was:  "Of course.  It's yours if you want it."

Ummm.  This caught me off guard.  I had expected rejection or a flat out NO.  But instead I got the opposite. 

So now I had to answer the real question:  Did I really want it?

You know, I think that a lot of life is easier than we think.  When we put ourselves out there and actually ask for something, it's not always that hard to get. 

The had part is deciding what to ask for.  The hard part is figuring out WHAT WE WANT.

When faced with this question this week, I realized that I had no idea what I wanted. 

And that's ok too.

We're allowed to try different things, to feel our way around until we find our sweet spot.  No one is born knowing exactly who they are and what their purpose is.  Well, at least not most people.  So why do we think that we have to get it right the first time?  Why do I feel like I get one shot at life, then I'm stuck with whatever that is for eternity? 

But when I realized this week that I had no idea what I wanted, I panicked.  I thought that it was black or white, take it or leave it.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't know.  News flash:  no one knows! 

I've been learning a lot at work lately.  And by a lot, I mean a mind-blowing amount of new information bombards my brain every second of every day.  I say something foolish at least once every 5 minutes and blatantly reveal my ignorance to everyone around me.  I struggle and curse architecture school and The stupid Fountainhead for ever making me interested in architecture in the first place.  I have a stack of books a mile high at my desk because I have to look up EVERY SINGLE THING I do.  ALL DAY.  EVERY DAY.  It's exhausting.  And overwhelming.  And painful.  These growing pains suck. 

And I'm tired.  I'm emotional.  I'm hormonal.  I want to sit and cry a lot.  I want to bawl my eyes out, gnash my teeth, howl and moan like a wild wildebeest.  I want to let it all out.  I am STRESSED.  I want to drink wine all day.  I want to complain to anyone who will listen.  I want to talk incessantly about myself and my hard times. 

BUT, when I put on my perspectacles, as Glennon Doyle Melton would say, I also realize that I am so lucky.  I am finally in the arena; I am facing my biggest fear in life, I'm struggling to develop into the architect that I know I'm capable of being... and I have an office full of people who support and encourage me every step of the way.  I have decades of cumulative knowledge within 10 feet of me.  My pals John, Randy, Jim & Donna are more than willing to help me and explain things to me and share their knowledge.  Sometimes I don't even have to ask... they sense me struggling and come to my rescue before I even know I'm in trouble.  What an amazing gift that I have been given!

So I try to control my howling and gnashing of teeth.  I don't let it all out...well, ok, maybe some of it.  But most of it I keep inside.  Why?  Well, because that wouldn't be very attractive now, would it?  And also because this is what I wanted!  This is what I've been waiting for.  This very opportunity to learn, to gain experience, to have my own project and be responsible for it's success or failure.  That is what I've been wishing and waiting and asking for for years, and I'm not gonna blow this opportunity now by complaining about every second of it. 

But now that it's here and I'm in the middle of it, I'm asking IS THIS STILL WHAT I WANT?  I'm allowed to change my mind, you know.  I'm allowed to try something and decide it's not for me, and move on to the next thing - guilt free. 

But do you know what I have decided?  Yes.  This is still what I want.  I thought I wanted the other thing, but maybe I was just trying to escape from the thing I already have because its hard.  And I wanted an out.  But I am happy where I am.  I'm learning.  I'm growing.  The stress and the struggle are worth it to me right now.  That might not always be the case, but right now, I'm exactly where I WANT to be.

So here I am, at the end of this stressful, emotional, exhausting week, in the exact same place that I started out on Monday.  But the difference is that I'm changed.  I have a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to my life just as it is, and I'm filled with gratitude for what I already have.  I don't need a change.  I just need to appreciate how blessed I already am.

Are you where you want to be in life?  If you had an opportunity to make a change in your life, would you take it, or would you decide that you're actually good right where you are?

Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Will You Catch Me If I Fall?

Dan told me that I had a bad dream last night.  Apparently at some point during the night I woke up, bolted upright, and looked around the room like a crazy woman.  He was still awake, reading a book, so he asked me:  "What's wrong, Honey?"  I just looked at him, all crazy-eyed.  He assured me that everything was OK, and that he was right there and wouldn't let anything happen to me.  Then I asked him "Will you catch me if I fall?"  He said "Yes, of course I will", then I laid my head back down on the pillow and fell sound asleep, as if nothing had happened.  

I had no recollection of this.  After he told me the story, I could faintly remember it, similar to how you can just make out the shape of something in a dense fog, and you squint at it to try to bring it into focus.  I tried for a while to see through the fog and remember the dream, but a vague outline was all I could muster.  But the whole situation really struck me, and left me with an odd, inexplicable feeling that I couldn't shake all day.  

The previous day, I had a conversation with a friend about dreams.  She shared with me that she was having vivid, recurring dreams about being rejected.  In these dreams, one of her worst fears - being rejected by the man that she loves - was haunting her.  Night after night, she lives out these fears that she has buried deep within her.  Even though there is no actual threat of such rejection in her life, she still has to deal with this worry, this anxiety, this fear.  She asked if I had those kinds of dreams, and looked at me incredulously when I told her that I do not.  I suppose that rejection isn't one of my deepest, darkest fears at this point in my life.

But failure is.

Which is why, the very next night, I found myself begging my husband - in my sleep - to catch me if I fall.  I must have been dreaming of falling, or failing, or somehow not being capable of holding it all together in an upright position.  

"Will you catch me if I fall?"

After thinking about this some more, I realized that something was activating our fears, something was stirring them up and making them rage and rear their ugly heads and torment us in the night.  And that something is that WE ARE HAPPY.  We have something to lose.  

My friend has allowed herself to love someone deeply again.  I have taken steps to try new things in my life, things that I have no guarantee will work out or be successful.  We're both facing our fears, and our fears don't like it.  

Our fear is a bit of a control freak.  It doesn't like being ignored and overlooked.  It likes to be the center of attention.  It likes to be in control.  So as soon as we take charge, and tell our fear to step aside, it has a temper tantrum.  It shouts at us constantly, it makes a racket in whatever way it can, it is desperate for our attention.  If we choose to ignore it during the day and go about living our lives to the fullest, it will sneak up on us in the night, in our dreams, in our subconscious awareness.  But the sad thing is that it does not have our best interest at heart, so we cannot listen to it.  

But I don't hold a grudge against my fears.  In fact, I choose to interpret that feeling of fear that grips my heart as a good sign.  I choose to see it as an indicator that I'm onto something good in my life, that I getting "warmer"; closer to the prize, closer to my true self and the divine plan for my life.

And how blessed am I to have someone in my life who I trust so fully that I ask him in my sleep to catch me if I fall?  How blessed am I to have people in my life who help me stare this dreaded fear in the face and say:  you're not in charge anymore.  Together, we will do this thing, whatever it is, and even if she falls, we'll catch her, and together we'll make it to our destination. 

That doesn't leave much room for dear ol' fear, does it?  

And how lucky is my friend, to have found love, against all odds, despite the fear in her heart.  It's amazing that any of us get anything accomplished in this life, with our fears always bubbling just beneath the surface.  But we do.  We are strong.  We can do things that terrify us, and come out better for having done them.  We can allow our love to be greater than our fear.  And when we do, that's when the magic happens.

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Perfectionism at Work

I'm tackling a new fear lately:  PERFECTIONISM.  

Yep, its a big one.  

It may not look like a fear at first glance, but when you break it down, all that perfectionism really is is fear of failure, fear of being vulnerable, fear of not being enough.  That's some pretty intense stuff, so you can see why it has taken me so long to tackle it.  

I face perfectionism in several areas of my life, but it is the most pronounced in  my work.  I know that I am not perfect.  I have so much to learn, and I feel like most of the time I am pretty humble about my weaknesses and areas where I lack experience.  However, lately I have been doing some things at work that involve completely new territory, but they are things that I feel like I should know at this point in my career.  So I tried at first to navigate this new terrain by myself, teaching myself as best I could and asking questions only when all other options had been exhausted.  Even when others offered their help to me, I was reluctant to accept it, because I felt that I needed to learn these things on my own in order to really understand and assimilate the information.  But after a few days of this exhausting whirlwind of ignorance, feeling utterly defeated, I finally admitted that I needed help and could not do this on my own.  Much to my surprise, I was not fired on the spot or mocked and ridiculed (at least not to my face).  Instead, I was given the help that I needed.  Those who were experienced in my areas of lack were more than willing to share their knowledge with me.  In fact, no one else even seemed to care that I didn't know this stuff.  I was the only one who was worried about it!  I will say that it was a little bit of a blow to  my ego to have someone sit down and break things down into baby steps for me... but that is exactly what I needed.  And, much stronger than my twinge of pride, was the surge of relief and gratitude that I felt from finally opening myself up to the help that I needed.

That's the sneaky little mind game that perfectionism plays on you... it  leads you to believe that you are better off suffering in silence, not allowing for mistakes rather than just asking for help and admitting that you have no idea what you are doing.  But the truth is that you're not even in the game until you start making mistakes.  If you're not failing at anything, then you are not really trying.  If you're not screwing a few things up now and then, chances are that you are playing it safe, not venturing out of your cozy little comfort zone, because you are too terrified of a less than perfect performance.  Trust me, I know the feeling.  But I also know that I want to continue to learn and grow and improve as an architect and a human being. And that's gonna be a lot harder if I keep demanding perfection from myself.  I've been battling with this for a long time, and I'm so relieved to have finally made a tiny crack in my armor.  This wall of perfectionism has been between me and my ambitions for years, and I'm finally ready to tear it down so that the real work can begin.

Do you battle with perfectionism in your work?  What about other areas of your life?  How have you gotten past your fear of failure?  If you have techniques or ideas please share, I'd love to hear from you.

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo Credit:  © Kiosea39 | - Stressed Nervous Businesswoman In Her Office Photo


Who's in Control: You or Your Fear?

I've talked a lot before about using your fear to guide you.  I think that this is something that we overlook when making decisions, or choosing our life's work, or just planning our day's activities.   I am often overcome with a very specific feeling of fear.  I feel it in my body.  It's that feeling that this is something that is important to me.  My heart beat faster, my palms sweat, my mouth goes dry.  And although I've labeled this feeling as fear my entire life, I've come to realize that it is actually excitement.  It is the feeling of all of my senses being alert, that feeling of hyper-awareness.  This is something to pay attention to.  This is my body and my soul telling me to take action.  But for most of my life, since I had labeled this feeling as fear and thus something negative to be avoided, I've been neglecting to take action at the very times when I needed to most.  It got to the point where I could not trust myself to do what I needed to do in life.  Once I finally understood what was happening, I started to re-evaluate my relationship with my fears.  I started to understand that they were not ever going to go away.  I was never going to "overcome" them, I just needed to label them differently and redefine my relationship with them.  It has helped for me to think of my fears as little children; they are just small and afraid because they do not know any better.  But it would be ludicrous to allow them to determine my behavior, or keep me from doing things in my life.  I just have to accept them as they are and tell them that everything is going to be ok, then do what I need to do.    

What about you?  Do you find yourself allowing your fears to hold you back in life?  Do you make decisions based on your fears rather than on what you truly want in life?  Or what techniques do you have for keeping your fears in check?

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What Does Fearlessness Look Like?

I will never forget the day that I took this photo.  This young boy was standing up at the top of the waterfall, clearly terrified, but doing it anyway.  He stood up there for a long while, mustering up the courage to jump, while his dad shouted encouragement from the water below.  After several minutes and what appeared to be a voilent internal struggle, he finally jumped.  I found the whole scene to be deeply disturbing.  

Was that kid really fearless?  Is that all there is to it, just having the guts to jump?  I don't think so.  I think that sometimes, its a far more fearless act to admit that we're afraid.  I wish that kid had said to his dad:  'I don't want to jump.  I'm not ready yet.'  Sometimes real fearlessness means that we have to acknowledge our own limitations, even if it means letting other people down.  Sometimes, forging blindly ahead, not acknowledging our own nature and our own preferences, is easier than being true to ourselves.  

I have found this to be a very delicate balance in my life.  At what point does my desire to face my fears become no more than me trying to prove to myself over and over again that I am enough?  When do I say to myself:  I am ok whether or not I do this thing that I am afraid of.  If I don't do it, I am still ok.  If I can't do it, I am still ok.  And when do I push my limits and face my fears head on?  I've come to recognize recurring themes of fear in my life that I'm starting to think are not just fears, but real limitations.  Everyone has limitations and it's hard fact to accept.  W.H. Auden explains it well:

"Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity." 

It's a tough balance, finding that place where you're challenging yourself while still acknowledging your nature and being true to who you are.  But that's where the magic happens.  I'm finding that balance in my life a little more each day.  I am done being fearless just for the sake of it.  If I don't want to jump, I don't have to.  But when it feels right, I'm all in.

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fearless Friday Challenge

Guess what day it is?!

That's right, its FEARLESS FRIDAY.

This week, I want to challenge you to do something fearless.  I'm serious.  I want you to promise me that you will do something that scares the crap out of you.  I don't care what it is.  Just make sure it's kick-ass.

I'll go first:  my fearless act for the week is... I am starting to write a book.  OMG, there's my second fearless act; saying it out loud publicly.  (I may regret that later).  Anyway, I have been telling myself for as long as I can remember that I would write a book someday.  Well, I finally realized that if I don't take action, then "someday" may never come.  This week I said enough is enough.  I'm gonna DO it.  So, every day this week, I have gotten up an hour earlier, and I have written.  Sort of.  The first day, I mostly stared into space (a mixture of exhaustion and overwhelm, I'm sure).  But then on the second day, I started writing.  I wrote about some stuff that is very deep and emotional for me, and I cried my eyes out most of the morning.  Then the next day, I realized that I had not saved the majority of what I had written the previous day.  Bummer.  This is not exactly how I had expected writing  a book to go, but hey, nobody is perfect.  At least I am trying.  And I'm FACING MY FEARS.  That's the real accomplishment, regardless of the outcome.

This is where the magic happens, lol.  

This is where the magic happens, lol.  

Now it's your turn.  What will you do?  Feel free to leave a comment or write me and let me know how it goes, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Capture Your Creativity - Step 4: Take Yourself Seriously

"The world won't know who you are until you tell them with your own voice"  Something clicked in my brain like dynamite when I read this quote by Sally Hope.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized the truth and the significance of these words.

Others can see the potential in us, they can recognize our talents and strenghts... but they cannot know our deepest hopes and our hearts desires - until we tell them.  So many of us, myself included, wait around for permission from other people to start pursuing our dreams, to start living our lives free from fear.  But the good (and scary) news is that we do not need anyone else's approval except our own..  We can grant ourselves the permission that we need, and we can get started NOW.

This is what Step 4 of Capturing Your Creativity is all about - Taking Yourself Seriously.

Ask yourself:  "What would I do if I was not afraid?"  The answer?  Exactly what you should be doing RIGHT NOW.  Ask yourself another question:  "What am I most afraid of?"  The answer?  The thing that you MUST do.

But here's the problem:  we don't feel qualified to do that thing.  We don't feel smart enough, or talented enough, or attractive enough, or well-connected or resourceful or outgoing enough to do the thing that we secretly want to do.  So we don't do it.  We procrastinate.  We daydream, but never take action.  We sigh a sigh of resignation and are bummed that we just weren't born with what it takes to do what we really want to do.  So we keep doing the same old thing, working in a job that doesn't light us up, staying in unhealthy relationships, keeping up old habits that no longer serve us.  

But what if I told you that you COULD do that thing that you want to do?  What if I told you that all it takes is acknowledging the fear and the uncertainty that you feel, and then acting anyway?  What if I told you that it is time to drop all of the excuses that have been holding you back and start to take steps toward your dream?  Well, that is what I'm telling you - because its true.

Here's how it worked for me:  Throughout my mid to late 20's and early 30's I was obsessed with personal development and spirituality.  I read every single book that I could get my hands on, and I wrote constantly about what I was learning in my journal, but never dared share any of it.  I also longed to create art.  I was making cakes on a regular basis, but I would go to art museums and shows, and just stare longingly at the artwork, aching to create something more myself.  I started following people who inspired me, several of whom were "life coaches", something that I hadn't heard of before but was fascinated by.  I was also fascinated by successful entrepreneurs and savvy inspirational speakers.  And while I loved what all of these people were doing, I didn't think for one second that I was qualified to do any of it myself.  But over time, as I started to Face My Fears, I slowly started to realize that... I would love to do some of these things myself.  I really AM a writer, I just need to start writing regularly.  I already am an artist, I just need to be more committed to actually creating artwork.   Slowly but surely, as I faced one fear after the next, I started to realize that... I can do whatever I want to do.  No one has to give me permission, I just have to DO it.  I'm still working toward gaining the courage to do some of the things that I want to do.  I'm still facing fears on a regular basis.  But the difference now is that my default mindset has changed from "I could never do that" to "I would love to do that! What do I need to learn or do or overcome to make it happen?"

But there is more to this... you have to go do the thing that scares the crap out of you, and then you have to OWN it!  This might come naturally for some, appearing confident despite the deafening roar of self doubt in your head.  But for me, it often gets the best of me.  When I first started writing this blog, I would just dismiss it in conversation like it was no biggie, and then I couldn't figure out why others weren't at all interested in talking about it with me.  Well, I hadn't exactly made it sound fascinating.  I had made it seem small and insignificant, which was in fact the farthest thing from the truth.  But I didn't have the confidence in myself to share this excitement with others.  I felt like a fraud, even though this work was the most authentic version of myself that I had ever dared share with the world.  Bottom line:  if you aren't excited about your work (and willing to share that excitement with others) then others probably won't be too excited about it either.  So here's what you have to do; the same thing that everyone on the planet has to do when they are first starting out (unless they are an ego-maniac - which I am assuming you are not since you're reading this)  FAKE it till you make it, baby!   Everyone is a beginner at some point but that is no excuse to stand on the sidelines too timid to get in the game.  Fake it till you make it.  Its the only way.

So, I want you to ask yourself these questions:  What would I do if I were not afraid, and What am I most afraid of?  Then, you guessed it, go do it!  Do it loud and proud and unapolagetically.  We've got this!

Must Reads for "Take Yourself Seriously":  The Art of Work by Jeff Goins, and check out Sally Hope's website for some serious fearlessness at

We're about to wrap up my Capture Your Creativity Series. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these articles.  I hope that what I have learned and shared with you here has been of some benefit to you as well.  Thank you so much for reading each week.  If you like this series so far, feel free to share it with your friends!

So far in this Capture Your Creativity series, we've covered Step 1:  Tune In, Step 2:  Face Your Fears, and Step 3:  Get Real (and Start Where You Are).  

Next time I'll talk about Step 5:  Surround Yourself With Positive, Engaged Supporters and Never Give Up!

See you then!


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bring On 2015!

It's New Year's Day, one of my favorite days of the year!  I love the fresh start that it brings, and the sense of hope and anticipation for the year ahead. 

I usually spend the last few days of the year looking back over my accomplishments from the past year, and ahead to my goals and resolutions for the new year.  I've made this a sort-of ceremony in the past - creating vision boards and flow charts and lists upon lists.  I was actually planning to write a blog about this process.  But this year has been different.  For one thing, Dan and I are in the middle of buying/selling houses, and all of our stuff is packed up - we're literally sitting on  camping chairs because we sold all of our living room furniture.  I have no food in the pantry and no idea where my  crafting supplies are for the vision boards.  But beyond all of that, the real reason that I'm not making lists and planning is because... I don't need to.  In the past, these tools have been invaluable.  For example, last year at this time, I had a deep empty feeling that I couldn't shake.  So I spent these few days figuring out why I felt this way and what I could do about it.  The answer, I discovered, was to stop planning and start DOING.  So I created my website, I started my blog, I started painting, and I started applying to new jobs.  I started actually doing all of the things that I had been avoiding out of fear and procrastination.  And, believe it or not, that empty feeling vanished!

So now - for the first time in maybe my entire life - I do not have any hidden desires.  There is nothing in my heart that I have ignored or repressed.  There are no fears holding me back.  I finally trust myself to do what I need to do as different situations and opportunities arise.  I will probably always have fears around certain things, but I will never again let them stop me from doing what my heart longs to do.

So, No.  I did not ring in the new year with a planner and glue gun in hand this year.  I didn't need to.  Dan and I went furniture shopping in Hickory, had a fabulous vegetarian dinner in Asheville, and reminisced about our 2014 highlights on our drive home.  Today, we plan to continue packing, and then relax in our camping chairs!


Happy New Year!

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Are You a Writer?

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a random guy at a bar.  It was one of those special conversations that allows you to see things in a different way, one that makes you question some things that you have never thought to question before, one of those conversations that changes everything.

 We were talking about our passions in life and I was telling him about my cakes and my addiction to journaling and he said “So you’re a writer?”  Well, no, not really, I just write in my journal a lot.  “So you write?”  Well, yes, but only in a journal.  “Then you’re a writer.”  This conversation has really stuck with me over the years, and I think about this concept a lot. 

Am I a writer?  Am I an architect or an artist for that matter?  What makes one qualified to claim a title?  I feel comfortable claiming that I am an architect because I have put in my time and passed the state licensing exams.  But a writer?  Maybe I don’t feel qualified because I don’t have any formal training, or because I haven’t had anything published or been paid to write.  Its the same with art.  I have a minor in art, and a degree in graphic design, but I still feel a little weird calling myself an artist.  But here’s the thing:  I feel driven to write and to create art.  I know that whatever comes along in life, I will continue to participate in those activities no matter what.  I will find a way, I will work it in – whether or not I get paid for it – because I have to.  When I don’t write and when I don’t create art something is missing and I’m  not completely myself.  So, which is more qualifying:  getting paid to do something, or knowing in your soul that you have to do it?

I’ve been a closet writer for a very long time, filling thumb drives with more crap than anyone would ever care to read.  But I finally got to a point where I realized that I had to start putting myself out there.  I had to get this out.  I was about to explode.  So I started my blog, and I’m starting to submit my writing to various publications as opportunities arise.  I realized very recently that I finally have something to write about.  I have gone through a lot of crap and figured a lot of stuff out through my writing.  And it’s pretty ironic that the very things that I have figured out through writing are the things that I feel the need to share…my struggle with finding my place in this world, my journey to loving and accepting myself as I am, my search for my purpose in life.  Those very struggles are what have given me something to write about.  I had a major aha moment when I realized this.  Every single trial, obstacle, problem, and painful situation that I have ever encountered were really just God giving me something to write about.  I love this.  What problems are you encountering right now?  Try to realize that they are gifts.  God is giving you something to write / sing / paint / whatever about.  Whatever it is that you do will inevitably have a deeper meaning and a stronger impact on others after you have crawled through the trenches and emerged on the other side and can share what you have learned.  It will carry your blood, sweat and tears; it will have a part of your soul and your struggle in it.  And others will connect with that, because they will recognize their own journey in it.

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That awkward moment when....

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fragile, terrifying, and utterly exhilarating act of  putting yourself out there and going for something that you want.  I think of the times that I have scoffed at someone doing something new or different or out of character for them.    In the past, I would look at someone awkwardly going for their dream with pity, I was embarrassed for them, bless their heart.  But now, I only notice the beauty in these acts.  I smile every time I see someone making a fool of him/herself trying something new.  I cheer when I see young people trying to grow into a role they aspire to.  I used to think of these kinds of things as someone trying to be something that they are not.  I used to see these people as amateurs or wannabes.  Especially myself, I was so uncomfortable putting myself out there to experiment with new and different things…  I didn’t want to be a fraud or a fake.  The part that I didn’t realize though is that no one is born knowing what they want to make out of life.  You have to try different things on for size.  Sometimes they work out, sometimes they do not.  But trying is the only way to find out. Now, I realize that when myself or others reach toward different and greater things in life, maybe instead of trying to be something that we are not, we’re simply learning how to be what we are.

I have a Dream! (or ten)


I have so many different interests and passions that I feel mildly schizophrenic most of the time.  Seriously, I wish that you guys could spend a day in my head, its like a game of ping pong… constantly jumping from one idea to the next to the next.  It’s exhausting!  So I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately about how to narrow down my focus to one or two things and I keep getting stuck on WHICH passion to choose.

 As I’m thinking through these things, I keep coming across quotes and discussions of fear.  And I’m not talking about the kind of fear I feel when I am in danger.  This is the kind that keeps me stuck in old patterns, the fear that holds me back, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown.  I have been a self-help junkie for many, many years, and in all of my reading and searching for answers, I have never gotten this specific message about fear… until now.  Weird.  So here are several of the quotes that I came across in literally a week’s time:

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”  Joseph Campbell

“Nervousness surrounding what I want to do is a good sign.”

“The more important a project is to your soul’s evolution, the more you’ll resist it.” Steven Pressfield

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” Mary Ferguson

“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ok, Ok, I get it already!  So I asked myself:  which passions create the most fear for you right now?  Well, writing stuff that others will actually read scares the crap out of me, and the thought of committing to creating some paintings for the first time in 10 years makes me break out into a cold sweat.  Ok, there’s my answer!

So what creates the most fear for you?  Will you do it already?!  I have finally accepted that that feeling of fear is a sure sign that something good is going to come from the thing that creates it.  What a cool way to think about something that could otherwise be so paralyzing.  Good Luck!