For the past few months, big changes have been brewing in my world. The kind of changes that my husband and I dreamed about and hoped for, that we knew deep down in our core were going to happen, but were simultaneously completely and utterly freaked out that we just might get what we asked for and then we’d have no choice but to take a big scary leap. (Or maybe that last part was just me…)
I’ve been sitting on this news for a few weeks now — I didn’t want to say anything until things were 100 percent definite and I’ve also needed time to tell my family and friends what’s happening.
So here’s the big reveal…
At the end of August, my family and I will be relocating to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. (Insert squeal here!) For the past few years, we’ve been craving a traveling adventure and luckily we’ve been able to finagle it through my husband’s job.
Our plan is to go abroad for 2-3 years to see and experience as much as we can. While I’m admittedly terrified of diving headfirst into many unknowns with an almost 9-year-old in tow, we know in our gut that this is the right thing for our family, and the excitement outweighs the fear (on most days).
My greatest intention for this adventure is that it enables us as a family and as individuals the opportunity for lots of growth, connection, and fun. I know there will be days where I question what the hell we’ve gotten ourselves into (these days are already occurring as we begin packing up and selling a house, I frantically try to wrap up my manuscript which is due to my publisher by Oct 1, and manage the expectations of my son who isn’t really bought into the whole idea … yet).
I honestly don’t know how it’s all going to play out, but I think that’s kind of the point, right?
So for now, I’ll close by simply saying, “To be continued…”
Me too. More than a few.
I’m usually good with deadlines when everything’s humming along and going smoothly, but as the mantra coined by Martha Beck goes, Everything’s changing all the time.
While sometimes these changes can be good — having a close friend move back to town or getting a promotion at work or finding a new coffee place that makes the best latte in town — other, less positive changes can completely derail us and bring our work to a halt, our finely laid plan rendered useless.
And of course those deadlines are still there, nagging at us. And at some point we need to collect ourselves, regroup, and dive back in to our work. Of course, this is one of those easier-said-than-done kind of things. Like re-entering the real world after a vacation, diving back in to a project that we’ve stepped away from can feel daunting and overwhelming. And that feeling can be enough to keep us stuck, helpless bystanders as we watch the days tick by and our deadline marching towards us.
I’m in such a place right now, but I am climbing to the top of the high dive and getting ready to plunge into the pool. Here’s how I’m going to do it:
Change it Up: Life has been full of change, so why not use change as a tool for re-entry? My plan is to formally shift gears and immerse myself in my project by finding a new venue to work on it. By creating a new routine and associating a specific place with this project, I’m using Chip & Dan Heath’s strategy of shaping my path to help me formulate a new habit…one that leads to my successfully tackling my work.
Revisit & Review: If you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship, you know it takes a little getting-to-know-you-again time to get back into the comfortable swing of things. The same applies to creative projects. I’m going to spend time rereading my development content for my project, articles, drafts, and more to get back into the headspace. It may look like procrastination, but it’s really a critical part of the work transition.
Be Patient & Judgment-Free: Feeling bad about just how off-schedule I am doesn’t really do anything except hinder my creative process. So I accept my situation for what it is, give myself time to get back into the swing of things, and turn off the self-judgment (the word “should” doesn’t really have a place in this conversation).
Take Small Steps: While I’m going to dive back in to the project, I’ll picture the slow-mo replay version of said dive. I’ll start small and set simple targets for what I want to accomplish each day. I know that once I’m fully immersed in the project I’ll eventually get back to a state of creative flow.
Get Accountability: This is a biggie. I’m turning to my people who are my cheerleaders, my supporters, and my accountability partners and I’m publicly declaring…I will be doing X this week. I’ll ask them to check in on me and make sure I’m on track, and possibly send a few words of encouragement. If I feel really brave, I’ll publicly declare my goal and ask my social media community to hold me to it.
Reward Myself: I’m such a sucker for rewards, so this is a no-brainer for me. I’ll set targets for what I hope to accomplish each day / week, and will happily cash in on my rewards, which will include a late-night frozen yogurt run, a mid-day nap, a trip to the beach with my son (even if it is 52 degrees and raining…). Small rewards for small tasks are proven to work, so I intend to use them!
So that’s what I’ve got. I feel pretty sure it’s going to work.
How about you? What strategies do you use to dive back in to a project after life has thrown you a curve ball?
I don’t know about you, but I’m experiencing some serious spring fever. Longer days, my garden in bloom, and an unusual sunny streak (for Seattle) has something to do with it, as I’m sure does the fact that I spent last week in NYC where I lived during my twenties and still feels very much like home to me. (That’s a pic of me and my boy at the Bronx Zoo.)
Since last week, I’ve been overcome by excitement about the many things I want to do and create. Even better, I feel like I might just have the energy to get (half of) them done.
But I’ve been here before — I get all pumped up about new possibilities and new projects and then one little thing happens (or more appropriately, doesn’t happen) and I get completely derailed.
I have a bad day with my son or a rainy cold front blows in or something I’m developing gets quashed and suddenly I’m back to square one, my energy and momentum gone and my mindset ripe for thoughts of insecurity and doubt.
I know it’s part of the cycle for creative entrepreneurs, but it still takes getting through.
But during this bout of spring fever, I’m going to try doing things a little differently…see if I can make some genuine shifts in my work and energy that can weather me through all the seasons. Here’s my plan:
- More action now, less To Do lists: I love to organize my work and desk and often that means spending time going through my pile and making detailed lists and notes outlining what has to be done for each task. Meanwhile, I could probably just do it in about 5 minutes and be done with it. So I’m going to do more of that.
- Spend less time on Facebook: Now, I love me some Facebook and the community I interact with online is important to me, but I’m going to try and strike a better balance. I’m a research junkie and a five-minute check-in on Facebook can turn into a long trip down the rabbit hole reading articles and following links that are of interest, so setting my timer will be key.
- Focus on gratitude: I’ve been taking a 30-day gratitude course that Florence Moyer created to help people nurture a more intentional gratitude practice. I’m a week in and enjoying the daily reminder to notice all that I’m grateful for, and I can see shifts in keeping me in the present and not so focused on the outcome of what I’m creating.This is a good thing.
- Be curious: A curiosity mindset is so, so, so powerful. Curiosity means a desire to know or learn something. Curiosity makes everything — every project, every risk, every idea — about growth and evolving, not about money or jobs or sure things. There are no good or bad outcomes when focusing on curiosity — there’s only information.
- Think less: Thinking gets me into trouble. Thinking reminds me of what could go wrong, or why something isn’t going to work out, or why my idea might be a bad one. Thinking keeps me from taking creative risks and pursuing opportunities that could be amazing because I might create something that completely sucks. Which leads me to….
- Be willing to suck: There’s nothing wrong with sucking. We’ve just dust ourselves off, look at what we learned from what happened, and move on. Without being willing to suck, we’ll never create the really good stuff.
- Play more: I know I need to do things I love to stay energized, so I’m going to protect my personal self-care routines more than ever. That includes running, gardening, spazzing out, and napping when the urge strikes.
So, that’s the plan. I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you: How do you maintain your creative spring fever?
A number of the clients I’ve been working with lately seem to be struggling with the same thing. They’ve got big things they want to create — their book or their blog or their business — but they hit a brick wall somewhere along the way and the resistance is strong.
When we dig a little deeper, we discover that what they’re really struggling with is the disconnect between what they want to do and what they think they have to do in order to be successful.
And if what they think they have to do doesn’t sit right with them, the creativity can come to a grinding halt.
In a world where we’re constantly being marketed to and told do X and Y in order to get Z, it’s all too easy to get hung up executing the X and Y without focusing on all those other lovely letters of the alphabet.
You know what I’m talking about — how many times have you been told there’s a right way to write your blog or there’s a formula you have to use to write your sales page or there’s the most effective format for your resume or there’s the perfect way to grow your mailing list.
But if those ways don’t feel in alignment with you, not only won’t they work for you — they’ll prevent you from moving forward.
Are there strategies that people have found success with when it comes to blogging or writing or building a business or finding a job? Sure. Can you learn something from them? Absolutely.
But at the end of the day, take what works for you and toss out the rest.
When we focus on doing it our own way, what we do or create most reflects who we are. And I believe that kind of creation can have the most powerful impact of all.
Have you ever wanted something and then when it actually happened or came through, gone into a full-fledged panic, and asked yourself why in the hell you wanted that thing in the first place? Maybe for you it was taking a new job or enrolling in grad school. Maybe it was registering for your first marathon or saying yes to a new role at work with more money and more responsibility.
We want these things and what goes along with them — the new job, the graduate degree, the accomplishment of running 26.2 miles, the bump in salary and prestige — but when it comes time to fully step into the commitment, something often happens.
Something called fear.
Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being vulnerable.
That kind of fear is powerful stuff. It causes anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and more.
But that kind of fear is also rooted in crappy thinking. A.K.A lies.
Fear of change is really believing that if things don’t work out we’ll have totally f*cked everything up.
Fear of the unknown is believing that playing it safe is better and personal growth isn’t worth the risk.
Fear of being vulnerable is really believing that we’re frauds, that we’re not good enough, that others won’t approve / accept / love us if we fully step into who we are.
(See what I mean? Lies!)
Last week, I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s annual fundraising luncheon. It was an incredible experience and I loved every moment, once I got to the luncheon. But the few days leading up to the event and the morning of? My fear was just about winning the battle for control of my body and mind.
Intellectually, I was excited. I love talking about girl empowerment, I’d done the prep work and gotten super clear on my intention. I had crafted a speech I felt connected to and I had an outfit to wear that I felt good in. But that morning? That was rough. I went for a run and listened my favorite tunes. That helped until I stopped running and then the panic ensued again. So after dropping my son off at school, I put on my “80′s happy music” (don’t ask) and danced around like a fool. That helped. Plus, my dog was amused. Then I got out the yoga ball, sat on it, and bounced for a good fifteen minutes, a tip I learned from the brilliant Cheryl Dolan at Power Boost Live last year. That helped some more.
And then it was time to get ready and go. So I did.
Once I got there, I was better.
Once I got on stage, it was awesome.
I love speaking to groups about things I am passionate about, like the importance of empowering girls and giving them strategies to rock their lives. Just like you probably love your new job, or love being in graduate school and learning new things, or love the feeling of crossing the finish line after running a marathon, or love having the opportunity to grow and stretch within your company.
The key, I think, is to focus on the feel-good… on the love. Through the anxiety and stress and more, remind yourself that those feelings are based on nothing but fear-fueled lies. And love outweighs that kind of fear any day of the week.