When Nothing Works

Can I just say that all of this being conscious and mindful and taking ownership of our lives is really fucking hard sometimes? Maybe even most times?

I’m not saying there’s never any ease or joy, but sometimes I find myself in a hellish season and it feels like it’s never going to let up.

Being online in those times can be excruciating. There’s no end to the posts and updates and suggestions and sales pitches that say, “Here’s what you need!” and, “Just do this and you’ll feel better!”

If reading those things help you, that’s fantastic – you’re getting what you need.

But if reading them makes you want to gouge your eyes out or burn down the entire internet, you’re not alone. Sometimes all they do is remind you of everything that isn’t going right in your life.

Sometimes things are just hard. Sometimes no matter what you do, everything hurts and it feels like nothing works.

And what makes those times even harder is the sense – and the overt messages – that you should stop focusing on how bad you feel. You should focus on what you’re grateful for, and what you’re trying to create, instead.

Again, if that kind of pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps approach works for you, great.

But even if it would help, sometimes it’s the hardest thing you could possibly ask of yourself.

There’s a fine line between accentuating the positive and ignoring your own pain.

Sometimes you can’t shift your focus away from what’s not working until you really acknowledge it. Really sit with it and hear what it needs from you.

What if those emotions keep coming up in such demanding ways because they’re asking for something from you?

What might those parts of you need?

Maybe they just need to hear you say, “I’m sorry, I love you.” Maybe they need to know that you see their pain and share their sorrow, and that you love them regardless of whether they’re having a hard time or not.

In my experience, the only way to move out of a difficult time is to accept where you are and let go of your desire to change it. (How’s that for damned near fucking impossible?)

But you don’t have to do it perfectly. I’m constantly letting go of my frustration and then picking it up again. And then finally wearing myself out once more and putting it back down. Repeat ad nauseum.

Try to remember that having a hard time doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

It’s another way we’ve been taught to believe we’re broken, but we’re not.

Of course none of this makes it suck any less. I get that. Completely.

If you’ve decided to walk your path while awake, foregoing a constant state of detachment and numbing out, then there is no easy answer.

Offering yourself compassion may not be the express lane out of your dark night, but it will always move you in the right direction.

Truly Believing

I’ve been thinking a lot about beliefs lately.

For one thing, I believe we can change our beliefs. (Ooh…meta!)

But I’ve been very aware lately that my responses and reactions to various situations don’t seem to line up with what I believe.

For example, if I believe that the process of creating something is more important than the results, why does it feel like an unrecoverable disaster when I launch something that falls flat?

That sense of failure is a big struggle for me.

Intellectually, I know that none of that effort is wasted. There’s learning and experience woven throughout, just waiting to be assimilated.

I found myself asking, though, when would I reach the point where I would feel it in my bones? When would I know it so well that a setback was no big deal?

But asking that question means there’s an underlying assumption that’s gumming up the works.

The assumption I’m making is that if I truly believed that none of my efforts were wasted, I wouldn’t feel disappointed.

In other words, it’s not okay to be disappointed in how a project turns out because then it means I don’t really believe the process is more important than the results.

But is this true?

What’s true is that I feel disappointment.

Part of that is coming from not getting what I want. And sure, part of me does feel I’ve done all that work for nothing.

But the rest of it? I think it comes from what the “failure” says about me.

It’s about the meaning I attach to failure.

A disappointment turns into a disaster when we assign meaning to it in unhelpful ways.

And it doesn’t much matter what it is – if I make a plan and that plan doesn’t go the way I want, it cues a chorus of loud, angry voices saying things like:

I’ll never figure this out.
This is too hard.
I’m not good at this.
I’m not cut out for this.
I should just give up.
I should have known better.

But does a mishap or setback or disappointing outcome really mean any of those things?

Drawing those conclusions from a setback (however painful) is really a form of self-sabotage. If I define myself as a failure ever time something doesn’t go my way, it’s way too tempting to give up.

The truth is that a disappointing outcome is nothing more than a disappointing outcome. It’s okay to want something to turn out in a certain way. And it’s okay to feel disappointed when it doesn’t.

It’s okay to grieve and even throw a tantrum.

(I think there’s a lot of drivel out there that implies if we’re “doing self-development right,” we’ll never feel negative emotions. On an unconscious level I’ve bought into that, but it’s complete bullshit.)

It’s not easy – at all – but I’m working on remembering that the only person who gets to assign meaning to my setbacks is me.

Since we were all taught what meanings to assign various outcomes from a very early age, the grooves in our brains are well worn. So we can’t expect to unlearn them overnight.

Just like meditation, it’s a practice.

As you meditate, your mind wanders and you just keep going back to your breath, time after time.

The goal of meditation isn’t to reach the point of not having thoughts. In fact, the more you try to stop your mind from wandering, the more it will happen. Rather, you’re trying to meet your mind’s tendency to wander with kindness, letting go of the thought and returning to your breath. No matter how frequently it happens.

In the same way, when dealing with the fallout from a setback of some kind, you’re not trying to squelch the disappointment (or anger, sadness, grief, frustration) you feel. All you can do is meet the sad parts of yourself with compassion, while choosing the meaning that works for you. Over and over again.

I’m choosing (well, trying to choose) to see setbacks as a necessary step along the path. And slowly I’m learning to meet the accompanying emotional upheaval with acceptance. To allow myself to experience the emotions without believing they define me.

It’s completely counter-intuitive, but the more I accept who, how and where I am, the more quickly things shift.

Do the setbacks still hurt? Yep. Do I still wish I would “just get over it already?” Yep. And then eventually I remind myself that the meaning is what I say it is. Again.

What meaning do you assign to setbacks and disappointments?

How would it feel to choose a more supportive meaning?

Loosening and Letting Go

Once, a long time ago, I changed the strings on my guitar and was in the process of getting it back in tune.

I kept cranking on the tuning heads to tighten the strings, but before I could get all six strings tuned, a few of them would slip and go out of tune again.

I could feel the sense of panic tightening my chest. I’d never had that happen before.

Even worse, what I didn’t realize was that every time the strings slipped, the neck was actually curving forward a little bit.

All I could think was, “WTF?”

Also, “Shit, shit, shit!” because I had no idea how to fix it and no idea if I’d already ruined my precious guitar.

Thankfully a friend knew what to do. The first thing he did was to tune down all the strings until they were completely slack.

Then he adjusted the metal rod inside the neck of the guitar to straighten it back out.

Only then did he tune the strings back up.

*****

Sometimes, the only way to move toward your goal is to go in reverse.

Of course, going in reverse looks an awful lot (or exactly) like moving away from the goal, so you resist.

But if you continue to push forward in ways that don’t work, eventually you will cause damage. You’ll realize you’re exhausted and heart-broken. Or maybe depressed and cynical. Or ill and in physical pain because you’ve worn your body out.

It’s not easy to move away from your desired destination in the short-term so that you can get there in the long-term.

You need an enormous amount of trust. Trust that even if you have to take a detour, you can still get there. Trust that you can know the difference between a necessary course-correction and a backing-off out of fear. (Nothing wrong with feeling afraid, mind you, but changing course isn’t the best remedy.)

Trust that even if you never get there, you’ll get someplace else just as good, if not better.

Even deeper than that, often we’re unwilling to stop pushing because we’ve tied our self-worth to accomplishing our goal.

Rampant in our culture is the belief that racking up achievements is how we prove that we’re worthy of the space we occupy in the world. So not pushing means risking non-achievement, which means risking not being worthy.

So we hold on and keep pushing toward our chosen destination. The thing is, sometimes you just can’t get there from here.

*****

Loosening all your metaphorical strings feels excruciatingly painful. Initially it can feel even more painful than continuing to push forward.

How do you know it’s time to take a big step back? When it feels like stepping back would be a disaster, the end of the world. When you repeatedly catch yourself getting frustrated but tell yourself to keep trying just a little bit longer. When denial is part of your daily routine.

How do you go from pushpushpushing to being willing to let go?

Sometimes the transition happens out of necessity – burnout, depression, and fatigue are great catalysts.

Whether the catalysts are there or not, whether you’ve been pushing for a long time or not, you start by being willing to feel your emotions without dulling them.

Follow the threads of frustration, sadness, anxiety, anger, fear…they may point to some reality that doesn’t look the way you want. Or to some outcome you’re unwilling to let go of. It’s not about eliminating these emotions, it’s about listening. Your emotions are messages about what you want and need.

Then, connect with unconditional love. Imagine your heart filling with it. Imagine what it would feel like to experience it.

Unconditional love is what will make it easier to stop and heal if necessary, because you don’t have to do anything to be worthy. You just are.

From that place, it will be easier to see what next step will be best for you. Trust your heart – it won’t lead you in the wrong direction.

Letting go in this way doesn’t mean abandoning your dream. It just means learning to move toward it in ways that don’t cause damage. And in ways that honor your worth and who you really are.

You Are Not Broken

image: cracked heart

For most of my life, I believed I was broken.

  • My emotions were a sign of weakness; they were too intense and needed to be stifled
  • My resentment at having to follow stupid rules or do meaningless assignments meant I was difficult
  • I needed too much information before making decisions and cared too much about getting them right, so I was wishy-washy

I spent a lot of years beating myself up for being the way I was. I was constantly trying to hide those parts of myself and re-shape them into more acceptable traits.

Especially when I entered the corporate world. I felt like I didn’t fit, but I thought it was because there was something wrong with me.

Then, during my fourth traditional corporate job, I noticed I hadn’t made any progress with changing myself into a good, happy worker-bee.

I realized that giving myself some kind of lobotomy – shutting myself down so I wouldn’t care whether my work was fulfilling – just wasn’t an option.

I wanted more freedom. More sovereignty. More say in what I’d create and how I’d create it.

I knew on some level that changing companies and job titles wouldn’t be enough. By definition, a job (working for someone else to further their agenda, as noble as their mission may be) was never going to cut it. I’d have to build a business and it would have to come from my heart.

But what was really in my heart? After years of shutting off the parts of myself that didn’t fit other people’s views of how I should be, I didn’t know my own heart anymore.

And even if I did know, I had no idea how I could turn it into a business.

That was when I really started learning about myself. Connecting with myself so that I could know what I wanted and what I needed in order to be happy and thrive in my work.

I had tried to change myself to fit their requirements and it was a complete disaster. Not only did it not work, it created a hell of a lot of pain and self-loathing.

That was when I stopped believing I was broken.

Partly I stopped believing it because the belief itself was a source of pain I was no longer willing to carry around. It was a belief that was handed to me at a time I was too young to know any better.

But I really grokked the truth that none of us are broken when I noticed that so much of what I regarded as unacceptable about myself was actually just inconvenient for someone else.

  • If you have a strong sense of self, you get called stubborn
  • If you are highly sensitive, you get called needy and high-maintenance
  • If you are an idealist who wants to make the best possible choice, you get called indecisive and wishy-washy
  • If you bristle at stupid rules and busy-work, you have a bad attitude

Whether it’s inconvenient because it makes someone work harder to help us thrive, or asks them them to reconsider their own worldview, or maybe something about us simply forces them to feel something they’d rather not feel, the result is the same. We’re the minority so we wind up feeling as though we are the problem.

But here’s the thing:

Not only are you not broken, but the parts of yourself you learned to despise are most likely the very parts that hold the key to finding your Thing, creating work that you love and changing the world.

It took a long time, but eventually I saw that my sensitivity is what helps me to connect with my clients. And my intolerance for bullshit is what led me to the path of entrepreneurship. And my careful decision-making is simply part of the way I think and operate.

Those traits I was trying to squelch were all signposts leading me toward what I wanted to create and how I needed to create it in order to thrive. They were never flaws that needed to be banished or rejected.

Sometimes my “special traits” still bump up against life in a way that feels inconvenient and painful, like everything would be so much easier if I could just not be that way, at least for that situation.

But I’m learning that the more I meet all of myself with acceptance, compassion and curiosity, the more I’m able to build my business around who I am.

We’re born with a unique set of traits and characteristics.

And the traits that not everyone understands are the ones that get deemed inconvenient, unacceptable, not ready for prime-time.

It’s because those traits aren’t for everyone. They’re gifts to your Right People. (Is it any wonder why it’s so draining to hang out with Wrong People all day long?)

Maybe all of this is hard to believe right now. I get it.

How can something you learned to believe was a flaw – which caused you so much pain and kept you from fitting in – be a gift?

Suppose it were true just for a moment.

What would those unacceptable parts of yourself tell you about the kind of work you’d really like to do and the kind of people you’d really like to work with?

How would it feel to stop fighting against who you are and instead build your work around it?

What gifts are you withholding from your Right People?

(Image credit: Ellipsis-Imagery)

Loosening the Knots

image: knot

Have you ever gotten a knot in some thread or yarn you were trying to work with? Or worse, in a chain necklace?

You can’t untangle it by diving in and tugging and pulling on it. That will just make the knot tighter than it already is.

It’s a delicate process.

You need to go slowly and work your fingertips into the barely-visible crevices.

It’s a process of making tiny movements. And if the knot is really tight, the movements will be so small that you’ll be convinced that what you’re doing isn’t working.

But that’s when you need to keep going. Even though you can’t see or feel the difference, the knot is loosening. Even if it’s just at the microscopic level.

Eventually, you feel that fabulous sensation of really being able to grab hold of one part of the knot. From there, it’s a cakewalk. You might have been struggling with that knot for hours, but once you reach the point of the first major shift, it only takes a few more minutes for the whole knot to be gone.

It’s the same with shifting a belief that holds you back.

We all have them. I’ve got tons – tons! – of them.

Here are some of mine:

Other people know what I need more than I do
My ideas aren’t very good so I should wait until I’ve developed them more before talking about them
I absolutely must Get It Right

Noticing the belief-knot is the first step. But once you’ve become conscious of it, you can’t force radical change.

If you’re like me and believe that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs, the step that comes after realizing the belief isn’t helpful is not to go out and make the biggest mistake you can possibly think of.

Or if you believe that other people’s projects (OPP!) need to come before yours, running out and telling everyone you come first is probably not a wise move.

Doing either of those would be the knot-equivalent of tugging on the ends and making everything tighter because all your resistance will get triggered.

Safety

The belief is there because it’s keeping you safe from some perceived danger. It doesn’t matter if the danger is real or not.

You need the safety of those tiny movements to loosen the knot gently.

(To bring in another metaphor, when you’re learning to swim, you don’t start in the deep end, right?)

If you grew up witnessing a family member fail at one or more entrepreneurial ventures, you might feel that starting your business or leaving your job is too risky.

The knot-tightening method would be to invest all your savings right away or quit your job with very little savings in the bank.

But what would the knot-loosening method look like?

A few possibilities would be to start your biz with as little up-front cash investment as possible, or to start socking away several months of savings, or to go part-time rather than quitting outright.

What’s important is that you’re taking small steps toward what you want, in ways that feel safe for you.

Proof

If you believe that failure is catastrophic, you don’t just wake up one day willing to take all sorts of risks. You need to learn that failure isn’t actually dangerous, and that you can survive it without sacrificing too much.

The way you do that is by building a body of evidence that supports your new belief.

The best evidence is when you try something and experience for yourself the fact that you survived just fine. And that goes right back to safety – it’s crucial to find ways to take steps without freaking yourself out so that you can experiment with your new belief.

Will failure still hurt, or will you still feel scared? Yes. But the amount of emotional management required before taking a risk will decrease. And the time between getting an idea and acting on it will shorten.

Perseverance

Some beliefs are knotted more tightly than others. They’ve been part of your reality for longer, or there’s more pain associated with them.

If you’ve got one that’s really tight, it could take a long time for it to unravel.

It might not feel as though the tiny steps you’re taking and the evidence-gathering you’re doing are making a difference, but I assure you, they are.

(Yet another metaphor: Just like a seed that’s been planted, lots of stuff happens underground before you ever see the green above the surface.)

Remind yourself why you want to shift the belief. And what you hope to achieve as a result of choosing a new belief instead.

Keep working at loosening the knot while being gentle with yourself along the way, and soon it will unravel.

Image credit: turbo.beagle

The Project You Want to Do vs. the Project That Needs Doing

Sometimes when you’re evaluating your project ideas for which one you’ll do next, something unexpected can happen.

You think that Project A is the “right” one.

Maybe you even start working on the project. But then you keep bumping up against obstacles.

And you begin to suspect that the easiest way to remove the obstacles is to work on Project B.

Cue Resistance!

But but but!

The problem is that Project B isn’t what you wanted to work on.

Imagine this scenario:

Project A involves tackling something big and important that will bring you accolades and ease to the people you work with once it’s done. Like creating or improving a system that your entire team will use.

Project B, on the other hand, is something like organizing your office and sorting through the waist-high piles of papers you haven’t had time to deal with for months.

Why we fight against working on Project B instead of Project A

Okay, even besides the fact that Project A might be a lot more appealing than Project B, there can be other stuff that gets in our way.

Maybe we think that Project B doesn’t “count.” I mean, especially if you’re a creative person, it feels good to wind up with a finished product you can say ta-daaa about. So Project B can feel like it’s not even a project…and certainly not as meaningful.

It’s easy to end up thinking that the only valid way to spend our time is to work solely on the big, important projects.

Time for a reframe

Something I have to remind myself of at least once a day: We are each responsible for creating a work-life that fulfills us and makes our hearts sing.

Yes, it can feel as though Project B is forcing itself on you and taking over your brainspace, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Next time you’re struggling with choosing to work on Project B (the one that needs to happen) instead of your Project A (the one you thought was next), try the following:

Remember that anything can be a project

Even if you’re working on something as mundane as just sorting through junk-mail, by virtue of the fact that you’ll eventually reach the end of the pile, that’s a project.

And it’s legitimate.

Look for ways to infuse your project with meaning and pleasure

How do you infuse a project with meaning? One way is to create a system to make the process more efficient in the future. For example, instead of just sorting through your papers, look for ways to make it easier to stay organized going forward.

I imagine you already have a pretty good idea of what I mean by infusing the project with pleasure, but some go-to ways for me are to play music, brew yummy tea, and plan a reward at the end.

Imagine how great it will feel to finish Project B

Whenever I’ve got one of those Project Bs I’ve been avoiding – especially if there’s some form of organizing involved – I worry I’m going to find something important that I should have dealt with long ago.

If I can get to the point of being willing to face it, I always feel a beautiful sense of lightness once I’m done. (Okay, okay, I usually beat myself up for a few minutes for not dealing with the project sooner, but once the initial sting subsides, I’m glad I took care of it.)

Remind yourself why you’re working on Project B instead of A

You’re working on Project B now so that it’s easier to work on Project A later. And who knows? Maybe Project B will help make Project C easier, too.

When the project you don’t want to do starts crowding your thoughts and creating anxiety for you, ignoring it won’t work.

Either say no to the project or get clear on why you’re going to do it. And then do it.

And if you’re having trouble getting clear, get some support.

We’re so quick to dismiss our Project Bs as poor uses of our time, but anything that helps to create spaciousness and peace in our work is worthwhile.

How about you?

Do you have a Project B that’s getting in the way of your Project A?

What’s one way you’ll infuse your Project B with meaning so that it feels like it’s a part of your work, and not a postponement of it?

Real-Life Business: What to Do When You Misjudge Your Capacity

Image: Cup Overflowing

One of the key principles I teach in Project Prowess is that you have to have enough Capacity if you want to enjoy your creative process and complete your projects consistently.

(A quick refresher: Capacity is the time and energy you have available to do whatever it is you’re working on.)

Here’s a little story about what happens when you try to work beyond your capacity.

As you may know, I’m an Instigator for A Year With Myself. And I was completely honored when C. A. Kobu invited me to participate.

My module was due on February 16, and Project Prowess was (originally) set to start on February 23.

I thought I could submit excellent content to C. A., while still keeping up with spreading the word and preparing for Project Prowess.

Turns out I was completely wrong.

The pace I’d set myself was just not sustainable, and I let that manic energy of “I must do one more thing for my business…” take priority over rest and nourishment.

I had started to dread the fact that Project Prowess was about to start. And I was quietly cursing myself for agreeing to contribute to a different project at the same time.

When I found myself avoiding the things I love doing, I thought I was entering a season of Oh shit I have to tear down my entire business and start from scratch because oh my god I was wrong and what I thought was my passion isn’t my passion!

When you work beyond your capacity, you will pay the price sooner or later with fatigue, anxiety and even resentment.

It can change how you feel about your entire business and sap you of all motivation.

Here’s how I got myself out of the over-capacity mess:

1. Notice that something isn’t working

Your symptoms will be unique to you, but if you feel like you’re running from task to task (unsuccessfully) and you’re feeling tired, frustrated, resentful and needy (like you want someone else to fix everything for you – ahem!), chances are good that you are working from a state of depletion.

2. Ask yourself what can shift

Rarely is everything in your life unchangeable.

In my case, I couldn’t change my due date for A Year With Myself. That was a project with an external deadline, and lots of moving parts dependent on my contribution.

So I had to look for other places to open up some spaciousness.

The most obvious choice was to postpone Project Prowess, even though it felt like a really big deal to do that.

3. If you’re having trouble finding any wiggle-room, for each commitment you’ve made, ask what would happen if you postponed or cancelled it

As I said above, rarely is everything unchangeable.

If you’re sensitive and conscientious, chances are you tend to overestimate the impact a change will have on the other people involved. And that means you’ll be reluctant to back out of or shift a commitment you’ve already made.

Plus, if you were on the receiving end of messages about “quitting” being A Bad Thing, it’s easy for this kind of situation to trigger feelings of having failed.

Commitment is a necessary ingredient for creating what you want to create, but you have to look at your own commitment patterns to determine if keeping the commitment or changing it is the right choice for you.

What became clear to me is that if I didn’t postpone the start date, I would not be at my best for the lovely projectizers who had already signed up. And that was definitely not okay.

4. Whatever you decide to do, take responsibility for your choice

The resentment I was feeling toward my business a few weeks ago? Totally of my own doing.

I felt resentful because I perceived myself as powerless to change or fix things to work for me. I was defaulting to a victim mentality, when in reality, I am a business owner. I get to decide what’s best for me and my business.

Once I took control over my schedule again and decided to postpone my course, a lot of the anxiety dissolved.

That said, it was still pretty terrifying to tell people that I was changing the start date, especially since it was due to my own flub (i.e., not realizing sooner that I had a conflict). Would they get angry? Would they ask for a refund? Would they secretly think I was a flake but not say so?

All I could do at that point was to send honest emails to the projectizers and let them know what was happening and why.

5. Let go of the outcome

I didn’t know how the people who’d signed up would respond, but I’d made my decision. I knew I’d done my best to minimize inconvenience and disappointment, but I wasn’t in control of the outcome.

Part of how you keep that victim mentality from creeping in is by remembering that you made a specific choice, and why you made it.

I had to accept that maybe someone would get upset, but I was postponing the course to preserve my health and make sure I could offer a high-quality program for my people.

As it happened, nobody got upset. Not even slightly. In fact, several people said that the new start date worked better than the original.

6. Reflect on what needs to change for next time

This part is challenging because there are an infinite number of ways you can wind up working outside your capacity. That’s why part of what I teach in Project Prowess is to review every project for ways to improve and better understand your creative process.

In this particular case, here’s what I learned:

Promoting a course takes a lot of time and energy (at least for me, for now), so if I get an additional opportunity that’s too good to pass up, I’ll do a better job of negotiating my deadlines and changing them when necessary.

Mistakes will happen, and they are almost never the catastrophe my inner perfectionist believes them to be.

Ignoring the signs and symptoms of depletion does nothing to address the problem.

I’ve gathered more evidence that doing what’s best for myself is very often what’s best for others, so it doesn’t make sense to punish my health for a deadline that can be changed.

How about you?

What has you over-capacity right now?
What gets in the way of creating more spaciousness for yourself?


Psst! If you missed this session of Project Prowess, sign up here to be notified when the program is starting again!

Image credit: karpacious

Case Study: Honoring Your Capacity Is Essential to Get Projects Done

In Project Prowess, I talk a lot about Capacity – the time and energy we have available for everything we do.

In our go-go-go culture, it’s easy to overestimate how much capacity we have for our projects (and underestimate the amount of self-care and rest we need).

If you try to work on a project when you don’t have the capacity for it, it’s going to be hard to get it done.

One of the lovely projectizers from the first group who attended Project Prowess is Paulita Pranschke. Understanding her own capacity and getting clear about what she needs to feel nourished was vital to completing her project.

I asked her to share some of her experience with you, so you could get a taste of what the program is like.

Did you have any concerns when you signed up for Project Prowess?

Uncertainty that I was really going to work on my chosen project, that I was really committed to working through my resistance so I could make progress. I mean, why spend money if I wasn’t committed to engaging with the process?

I went ahead and signed up, though, because I really, really deep-down wanted to make progress on my project (a dream I’d had for the embarrassingly long time of over 2 years).

Plus I knew I needed support. AND, I took Victoria’s Thing-Finding class last summer and was floored by how much I learned about myself. Victoria and my fellow-classmates really provided the kind of encouragement and support I needed. I wanted to work with Victoria again!

What were you most hoping to learn during the course?

I really wanted to learn in my bones how to meet myself where I am, find out what I need and then give it to myself. Especially when I feel anxious or scared, which is usually under the procrastination.

What project did you choose to work on during the program?

I wanted to put up a website and blog that would support me in my still-gestating business.

How was that process for you?

I discovered my commitment was not solid but for good reasons.

I had legitimate fears about visibility.

But I also had not so good reasons like thinking it needed to be perfect. One of the things that really helped was when one of the other participants was stuck on a sales page and Victoria told her to create a “shitty first draft.” Applying that idea to my website freed me up to move forward.

What did you like most about the course?

I love the tool “council of selves” and using it as a way to address procrastination and resistance by listening and making space for the entirety of me.

I also appreciated the camaraderie of the Facebook page and the live, individual coaching on the group calls. Most of all, I appreciated Victoria’s encouragement, support, and resourcefulness at helping me gently unlock the stuck.

What surprised you during the program?

The information about capacity was vital for me. I was so stunned at how little time I have during the week and how much I was pushing myself to “make” things happen, which doesn’t work with tiny, sweet things. Even my weekend time is finite.

It became very clear that self-care is essential for me to move forward with this project and future projects, which is not what I expected. I always think I will need to work harder, rather than be kinder to myself.

Would you recommend this course to others? If so, why?

I would recommend this course to anyone looking for gentle accountability and creative ways to unlock the stuck, in a context that deeply values your whole self.

What was the outcome of Project Prowess for you?

I got my self-hosted blog launched! Huzzah!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Victoria’s style of offering support for both the rational side and emotional side works beautifully for me.

My logical brain can focus on the planning and structure she offers while my emotional side can listen to my 12 & 13 year old selves who strangely enough wanted more broccoli and kale in my life.

You never know what helpfulness may come from who-knows-where and Victoria’s methods are a sure-fire way to access the help that’s all around us.

I felt like she really cared about me first and foremost, and was helping me learn how to use radical self-care as a springboard for creating the things I want in the world.

Find out more about Paulita and her sweet, new blog at paulitapranschke.com. Say hi and congratulate her on taking such a big step forward!

I know that no two situations are alike. If you’re ready to dig in to your project with a process that will work for you, check out Project Prowess.

The price goes up Monday night, and the Premium Option, which includes four additional sessions focused on working on your project, is nearly half full! I hope you’ll join us!

Feeling Nervous? You’re Not Alone!

I got an email the other day from one of the lovely people who joined Project Prowess and she let me know that she was feeling nervous about the course.

And immediately I realized that if one person was feeling unsure and a little anxious about the course, there would be others. Because that’s the nature of things…we are never alone in how we feel (we just think we are because sometimes it’s hard to talk about emotions).

Here’s the email:

I signed up! And for the Premium Option even though I’m terrified!

I’m totally unfamiliar with the call in format (I’ve never done a conference call!), and nervous about sending my work to you to review and comment on, and terrified about actually embarking on this project that has been delayed for so long and afraid that I will end up angry with myself for not getting started before.

I hate the thought that there might be a simple solution to something that has long plagued me, and that I may kick myself for not sorting it earlier.

Let’s tackle the non-technical stuff, first.

The most important thing to know

It’s completely normal to feel this way.

Whenever we take a step toward the things we want, there will be a mix of emotions that bubble to the surface. Some of them will be excitement, but some of them will be more like fear, anxiety, dread or terror.

This does not mean you have made a wrong step or a bad choice! Again, it’s the nature of things.

You are one of my Right People, and we are complex, sensitive flowers. We often (if not always) feel conflicting emotions about the stuff we do.

Feeling angry about waiting so long to figure this out

Oh boy, have I been there.

I don’t know this for sure, but I think it’s part of how our brains are wired. We learn something, and once we see that it’s not so mysterious, we instantly chide ourselves for not knowing it already.

Here’s the thing:

You only know what you know.

And you’re only ready to know what you’re ready to know.

Yes, you might feel anger or regret that you didn’t learn these skills sooner. That’s the part of you who was ready and wanted you to move ahead.

Thank her for pushing you to learn new stuff, and let her know that you’ll try to listen to her sooner next time. (In fact, during the program you will learn a tool to calm the parts that feel scared about moving ahead, so it will be easier to listen the parts that are ready.)

And then? Celebrate that you’re making progress on the project that has been waiting so patiently for you.

The Project Plan Check-Ins

When you sign up for the Premium Option, it includes a “Project Plan Check-In” with me.

I will not be grading you. There will be no red pen.

The purpose of the check-in is to make sure YOU feel comfortable with your project plan, because often when you’re doing something for the first time, it’s easy to wonder if you’re doing it “right.”

Once you have a good start on your project plan, you’ll send it to me and I’ll take a look at it during one of the Lab Sessions.

I’ll ask you how you feel about the plan and you’ll tell me if there’s anything that doesn’t feel right to you.

I’ll take a look at your task estimates and your deadlines and make sure everything seems reasonable.

Then I’ll offer lots of reassurance, and, if needed, make a couple of gentle suggestions so the plan will work better for you.

Again…no grading. No judging. Just reassurance and a second pair of eyes on your plan to make sure it will support you.

The call-in format

Here’s how this works.

For the four classes:

When you sign up, a day or two before our first call, you’ll receive a phone number and passcode from me.

At the time of the call, you dial that number however you want. You can use your land line, cell, or you can use Skype. You’ll be calling a U.S. phone number, so depending on where you’re calling from and your phone plan, you may or may not have a per minute charge. You may need Skype credit or a subscription.

Then you’ll hear a recorded voice prompting you to enter the passcode. Once you enter it, you’ll be added to the group call and I’ll be there. You’ll probably hear some chit chat happening and we can say hi before class starts.

Then, I’ll start the class by muting the lines so the recording is clear, and I’ll talk about projectizing, with lots of breaks where you can ask whatever questions you want. You’ll be able to unmute yourself by pressing *6, and then I’ll hear you if you have a question.

If you feel uncomfortable asking a question live on the call, you can ask by posting it on the Facebook group page, which I always check frequently.

During the Lab Sessions:

Before the first Lab Session, I’ll send you a worksheet to help you get clear on what you want to accomplish during the session. You’ll spend a little time beforehand filling that out for yourself.

You’ll dial in to a phone number just like for the Core classes.

Then I’ll guide you through a brief meditation-y exercise to help you focus on what you want to work on. (You do not need to have meditation experience for this! It will be easy and will make you feel calm and centered, I promise!)

If, after that exercise, you know what you want to work on, you’ll be able to hang up for 45 minutes and work on the tasks you chose.

But! If you’re feeling at all stuck, you’ll be able to stay on the line and ask me about it. I’ll help you get unstuck.

Or, if you hung up to start your focused work session, and then got stuck, you can dial back in and I’ll be there to help you get back on track.

At the end of the 45 minutes, you dial back in and check-in with the group and we celebrate what we all accomplished. (Yay! Progress!)

Regardless, I will stay on the line the whole time, there for you if you need me.

How about you?

Have questions about Project Prowess? Ask in the comments and I’ll answer them lickety-split!

Have you entered the contest, yet?

In case you missed it, I’m giving away two seats in Project Prowess.

This four-week program to help you finish a project to grow your business starts March 8!

To get all the details about how to enter the giveaway, check out this post. The contest ends on March 2!

But, if you want to make sure you get a spot (especially since seats in the Premium Option are getting snapped up), you can register now.

Thing-Finding and Projectizing

I used to talk all the time about finding your Thing – the Thing you love to do, are good at and that will support you financially.

Lately I’ve been talking a lot more about projectizing.

Back when I didn’t know what my Thing was, I always felt like I had to leave most of my Self at home or in the parking lot to fit in at my job.

But even once you know what your Thing is and it’s time to start projectizing around it, you still need to make sure what you’re choosing to work on and how you’re working on it fit all of who you are.

Both Thing-Finding and Projectizing have very similar processes…you need things like Safety and Desire and Commitment. And a big willingness to experiment.

Really, they’re very closely related. Fundamentally they both serve the same purpose:

To help you shape your work around yourself, rather than shaping yourself around your work.

So when C. A. Kobu asked me to contribute to the Discover Your True Passion module for her amazing 52-week self-study program, A Year With Myself, I was thrilled to get the opportunity to share more about Thing-Finding. And this week it’s been published!

I wanted to do a little something fun to celebrate, so I’ve got something special for you whether you consider yourself a Thing-Finder or a Projectizer!

For Thing-Finders (in other words, if you’re still not sure what your Thing is)

I’m excited because I think you’ll get lots out of the journaling prompt that’s available for no cost whatsoever, but if you want even more, purchase the full 52-module kit using my link between now and March 15 and I’ll send you a gift copy of the full Shmorian Thing-Finding Kit, and an invitation to a live Q&A call in late March (exact date TBD) where we can talk about all your Thing-Finding questions.

On top of getting all 52 AYWM modules as they’re released, you’ll get the Thing-Finding Kit and a call with me!

If you think you could be a Projectizer (in other words, you’re ready to start bringing your Thing-related creations into the world)

Purchase the full kit using my link between now and March 7 and I’ll send you a coupon code for 50% off your registration in Project Prowess.

Which means you’ll get the full A Year With Myself experience (52 modules!) and you’ll get my hands-on support in creating something to help you start or grow your business.

Note that the deadline is different for this option, because Project Prowess starts March 8!

Easy peasy

Simply purchase A Year With Myself, and then email me your receipt (my email addy is right on my Contact page) and let me know whether you’d like the Project Prowess discount or the Thing-Finding Kit and call. I’ll get your goodies to you within 24 hours (probably a lot sooner).

I’m really proud of the module I shared for A Year With Myself. I hope you enjoy it. :)