On a recent run/walk, I chided myself on the lack of progress I was making on my new start. I ran across the bridge and turned down a rocky path, jumping out of the way to avoid a muddy puddle, leftover from recent rain.
The mud reminded me of a Parker Palmer observation in his excellent essay on the seasons of life in his book, Let Your Life Speak. He states that before spring is beautiful and fragrant and full, it’s “plug ugly.” Ha! I love the visual his words provide as he talks about the “mud and muck” of spring after a wet winter. He then brings that illustration back to us and our lives. Spring work is not all fun.
Are you in a spring season in your life? Are you starting a new job, new relationships, new projects, new books, new classes?
In my life, there are many things that are ending- some of my choosing and some that are totally NOT my choosing. This has been both terrifying and thrilling simultaneously because I realized that it lays the future wide open. I thought I would have so much energy (and I do), but I’ve found myself in a bit of an anxious rut.
I’ve started to come out of the rut and I thought I’d share some ways I’m doing it. It feels like I’m still in the “plug ugly” part of spring, but I can also see spots of flowers and green that are coming through the mud!
- Take a class.
Any class. Learning new skills or leveling up the skills you have adds confidence and solidifies the foundation of your work. I’m currently taking Holly Becker’s Blog Power class and I’m learning (and re-learning) so many ways to firm up my brand, vision and the practical parts of blogging and building a community with other like minded people. Besides great content and inspiration, I’m able to meet many other amazing, creative women through the forum. It’s a timed class with homework and hard start and stop dates which keeps me on task!
I’ve also taken classes through the local adult community education center. Those are fun and they’re very reasonably priced.
Online classes at places like Udemy and Atly are a great way of learning new skills at one’s own pace. They downside is that there isn’t someone accountable to make sure you finish and there isn’t a great way to interact with other students. Being with other people really helps me stay focused.
- Write down a weekly goal
List one thing you want to get done this week? Last week it was finishing packing specific rooms of my mom’s home for her big move. Knowing what needed to be done helped me figure out how much time (and how many boxes!) was needed.
This week my goals include completing the homework and lessons for Blogging Your Way class, approach 2 venues for classes and write the outline for the next book. Deciding what my goals are makes me stay laser focused with my actions. This leads to step 3…..
- Be nice to yourself when you don’t hit the goal or the outcome doesn’t turn out as expected
Is it just me? I tend to verbally beat myself up when I don’t feel like I’m making progress. This is a vicious cycle because the unkind words make me feel worse, they don’t help me make work better! I’m intentionally working on not being negative!
And about those outcomes: we don’t control outcomes, we can only do the work.
- Don’t go solo.
We need each other. We need to have people in our lives who get what we are trying to do and can be there to lend a listening ear for a project or a frustration. We need to be able to be there to be their listener and sounding board when they need it. These relationships are worth their weight in gold.
My grandfather was a working artist for several decades of his life. He wasn’t in a mastermind or anything like that, but he had a small community of artists and friends in his circle. They would talk at the shows they were at and sometimes they would ask each other for input on pricing for their work or a particular piece that wasn’t working.
More than anything, they knew what the other’s were going through and they had each other’s back. When my grandfather passed away, it was those fellow artists- the ones he’d been colleagues and confidants with- who showed up at his funeral.
Life was shared and sharing our lives with each other is in an integral part of growing in a spring season of life.
- Remember: Consistency on the right things over time reaps results.
I have to tell myself this ALL the time. I tend to be a starter and I can get discouraged and move on to something else too quickly to see results.
What are the right things? Here’s a few:
strengthening skills to help your______ (fill in the blank).
reaching out to more clients to build business
spending time on things that are getting results not on making you feel better
I can’t tell you what the right things are for you. You’ve got to make that move. I know for me that when I’m spending too much time on “research,” taking classes that are NOT relevant to my core focus or spending my time doing everything BUT my priorities, I’m not making consistent progress in the right direction.
I hope this helps you. I’ve been going through a lot of fear and anxiety lately in regards to my “spring season.” The walks and runs have really been helping to get my head clear. The quiet helps me weed out (no pun intended) the problem areas in my thinking.
What things are new in your life right now? Are you in a season of spring? I’d love to hear your big challenges on starting and going through the “plug ugly” season.