Category Archives: change

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 Fragility of Ideas

Sometimes you get an idea.

It could be for a new product or service. Or it could be for a new focus for your biz.

And at first, you’re head over heels in love (or at least in lust) with the idea. It’s all you can think about.

Then you realize, it’s probably time to get some outside feedback before you commit to moving forward.

As tends to happen with feedback, some people love it, some like it, and a few of them really aren’t into it. (Even though you were hoping that every single person would tell you it was the best idea since the DVR.)

Then, suddenly, you’re not sure what you were thinking. And you’re not sure how you feel about your idea anymore.

Maybe it’s just me, but even a little bit of negative feedback feels like having someone piss on my Wheaties.

Start by stopping

When you feel that sense of disappointment about the feedback you received, you need to stop and clear everyone else’s voices and opinions out of your head (and heart).

Because this is the moment where it would be really easy to convince yourself the idea isn’t worth pursuing, just because a couple of people who were honest with you didn’t love the idea.

Now is when you ask some questions. Questions like…

Who loved (and liked) your idea? Are they your Right People?

Have they bought from you in the past? Do they read your blog faithfully? Have they signed up for your newsletter or advance discount list?

If they’ve done one or more of those things, that’s a good sign they’re your Right People.

Who thought the idea needed work? Are they your Right People?

If they’ve never bought from you, aren’t on your list, and don’t read your blog much, take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Often, family members and co-workers (and sometimes even our friends) fall into this category. Be especially careful of listening to feedback from these groups.

What – exactly – did people say about the idea?

If you can get some emotional distance and listen objectively, often you’ll find that the negative feedback came from a misunderstanding of what you were proposing.

And that’s good information to have because it means there’s something about your idea (or how you’re communicating it) that isn’t clear enough.

“Not clear enough” does not equal “not a good idea.” You may want to ask for clarification from them. Or to offer clarification of your own.

That’s assuming, of course, you’re talking to your ideal people.

How does the idea in question fit with the over all vision you have for your business? Is the idea in line with your values and your biz’s values (and purpose)?

If your idea doesn’t fit the big-picture direction you’re trying to go, check in with yourself about why you’re so infatuated with it.

Don’t dismiss it out of hand, though, because there’s probably something in there that you want or need. So how can you give that to yourself without pursuing an idea that’s not aligned with you or your biz?

The point:

Your idea only needs to appeal to the people you want to serve in your business.

If your idea resonates with your ideal clients, and is in line with your overall vision, you’re probably going in the right direction. Even if it scares the shit out of you.

Negative feedback from your not-Right People is a good thing, even if it hurts. It means the stuff you’re doing to attract only your ideal clients is working. (Thanks to Jenny Bones for reminding me about this today.)

And always remember: Regardless of how uncomfortable it is to put our ideas to the test,you are the one who knows what’s best for you and your biz. You get to decide which bits of feedback you’ll incorporate into your idea, and which ones you’ll ignore.

Guess who we’re really talking about here?

Yes. Me. (Surprise, surprise.)

That’s part of why it’s been quiet here on the blog. I’ve been moving through the infatuation and early-feedback stages for an idea I have. It’s a pretty big change, but I think if you’re among my perfect people, it will feel more like settling into a couch that’s got just the right amount of stuffing in the cushions.

Want to stay in the know?

I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be sharing these changes publicly (probably pretty soon), but if you join the Shmorian Society (using the form below), you’ll be sure to hear about it first.

As a thank you, you’ll also receive the 6-part Shmorian Project Prescription eCourse. If you and your project have lost that loving feeling, this will help you remember what you saw in each other to begin with. Hint: I’ve also been known to send out occasional treats.

* indicates required



Note: If you don’t see a sign up form, or it looks garbled, you can click here to sign up.

I hope you’ll join me on this new phase of my business adventure!

It Starts with a Choice

I was at Havi’s Sacramento workshop last Friday.

One of the things I learned was that I know more about who my Right People are than I thought.

A big realization was that the people I work best with have made a choice – the same choice I made a few years ago.

Time for a story…

Ten-ish years ago, I had managed to break into a real IT job as a self-taught database designer. I had been working toward that goal for a couple years at that point. So there I was “living the dream.”

It took less than a year before I was utterly miserable.

When I wasn’t at work, I was dreading going to work. When I was at work, every time I received an email or heard my phone ring, my stomach would drop like I was on a horrific amusement park ride.

One thing you’ll learn about me is that I’m not good at hiding my feelings. At. All.

My marriage was suffering because I was coming home pissed off every night. My attitude at the office was appalling. How I didn’t get disciplined, I don’t know, because every new assignment that came in led to eye-rolling and pushing back because it would be a pain in the ass for me.

It would be a pain in the ass for me to, you know, do my job.

A pattern emerges

After who knows how long that went on, I began to realize it was a pattern.

When I looked back at my time in the Caribbean, the same thing had happened – I wound up feeling utter dread and resentment toward doing my job.

Except back then, I didn’t know about patterns, so my noticing was more like, “Hey, that misery is kind of like this misery.” I didn’t have any tools to interact with the pattern to understand what I was needing.

If you’re wondering what this story has to do with choices, I’m about to tell you.

When I look back at the seven-ish years it took me to go from miserable worker bee to full-time entrepreneur, I realize it all started with one choice.

I chose to believe I had the power to change things.

And even when I felt as though things would never actually change, I wanted to believe they would.

That one choice started me on the road to where I am now, albeit with some detours along the way.

For most of my life it never occurred to me that I was the only one responsible for it. I operated as though I was waiting for something. So I guess in a strange way I’m grateful for the misery, because it helped me get to a point where I was desperate enough to do something about it.

Making big changes in your life takes lots of work.

Not just work but hard work.

So hard that sometimes I’ve wanted to take the blue pill and go back to blissful ignorance. Except that my ignorance was hardly blissful.

It’s perfectly reasonable to doubt you can create what you want. And just to be clear, I am not talking about creating in the Law of Attraction sense. (Ew!) I’m talking about making shit happen through hard work that only you can do for yourself.

If you didn’t have moments of doubt and disbelief, I would worry that you were a Stepford Spouse or something.

But if somewhere inside yourself you can hold on to the belief that you can figure out what your Thing is and launch it into the world (or even if you can only hang on to the desire to believe), the rest can be learned.

Once you’ve made that choice, it’s about getting the support you need. And about being open to learning new ways to help yourself. And about engaging with your stuff compassionately.

Reinvention

I’ve had a little over a week now of not reporting to the job.

How did I spend it?

I spent a lot of the time not feeling well, actually. It’s probably similar to what used to happen to me in school. Vacation would start, and I’d come down with a cold.

That did manage to force me to give my body what it wanted by sleeping more.

After about four days of that, I was ready to get moving, but my body wasn’t. Rather frustrating.

It’s still too soon to draw any conclusions, but I spent a lot of time thinking about what this change will mean for me. You know, once I’ve had a bit more recovery time.

The biggest thing I’m aware of is that it will mean a lot of redefining.

Redefining my relationship to Time

For the last 15+ years of working full-time, the way I spent the majority of my days was dictated by my employers. From 8am-ish to 5pm-ish, Monday thru Friday, I was expected to be “at work.” Often, in that kind of environment, it was more important that my butt was in my seat than it was for me to be productive.

Now, I have nobody telling me when to be working. There will be nothing stopping me from turning on the TV, or meeting a friend for coffee. I can choose not to work with clients on Tuesdays, if that’s how I want to schedule my appointments.

There will also be nothing stopping me from working 12 hours a day.

When is the best time to wake up and go to bed? When is my best writing time? When should I have offline time?

There will be lots of experimentation to learn what works the best for me.

Awakening my creative muscles

Between having a mostly left-brained job, and having some lots of perfectionist tendencies, I haven’t done a whole lot to keep my creativity tuned up.

Thanks to Charlie Gilkey, I’m doing some things to try to reawaken my creative flow. Things like mind-mapping and finding metaphors that describe this transition. And I’m trying to incorporate something artistic into my days. Mostly that’s meant drawing. Well, perhaps doodling (scribbling?) would be more accurate.

The other big thing will be to learn about my patterns around creativity and productivity. Before, so much of my time was spoken for, I didn’t have the luxury of figuring out when my most creative times were.

Figuring out what sovereignty means for my life

Another thing I’m noticing is that working for the Man has not helped me develop my sense of sovereignty.

To me, sovereignty means giving myself what I need. And it also means not ignoring my needs because I’m afraid they will affect someone else negatively.

I doubt I’m alone, but have you ever felt so busy and so pressured to get your work done that you won’t even allow yourself a trip to the bathroom or to refill your water glass? Or said yes to meetings or projects, without even considering that you could say no?

Just me? I didn’t think so.

It becomes a pattern.

Just as you can become disconnected from your heart, you can become disconnected from your sense of Self. You know, that essential part of you that gives you your you-ness.

I imagine changing that pattern will take a while. It’s closely related to the time issue, but it’s more than that.

It’s about reinventing my life in ways that serve me best, and not diminishing my creative power to meet the needs of others.

Oh, I want to take a class in the middle of the day? No problem.

I need a new sweater? I can go shopping during the week instead of waiting for the weekend, if that’s what works better for me.

This is really about developing a whole new mindset.

The hardest part

Giving myself permission to flail around for a while. Permission to feel clueless about what I should be doing with my time. Permission to be overwhelmed.

It’s not reasonable to expect to go seamlessly from having your working hours dictated to you to having 100% autonomy. Yet I do feel a certain amount of pressure to do just that.

Years and years of go-go-go don’t disappear overnight.

For now I’m going to keep focusing on giving my body what it needs, doing Dance of Shiva and spending time with the soul of my business. As much as possible, I’m going to trust that I have the answers within me, and I’ll know what I need to know when I need to know it.

One newsy bit

Right now I only have three slots available for one-on-one coaching. If you’re one of my Right People and have been thinking about it for a while, now’s the time to get in touch!

Joining the Ranks

My darling readers, I have news.

Big news.

By the end of this week, I will be joining the ranks of the self-employed.

I am about to become a full-time entrepreneur.

It took me a while to figure out how to share this news with you, because it’s a transition and transitions are complicated. (Maybe I’ll share more about the complexities in another post.)

As complicated as it is, and as scary as it is, I just know that it’s time for me to move forward in this new direction.

A tweet from Jen Louden sums it up quite nicely for me:

When you “should” on yourself to do what weakens (even if you’re good at it) you exhaust your precious life force.

I have been in IT for over 10 years. And I’m damn good at it. But part of why I was continuing in my job was out of a sense of should.

I shouldn’t walk away from this stable career. I should wait until my business is bringing in more income. I should wait until we have a larger emergency fund.

I should wait until fill-in-the-blank.

What I’ve known for a long time – but convinced myself I must be wrong or making it up – is that staying in the job was weakening me.

My life force, or let’s call it creative energy, was being used up. There wasn’t enough left over to give my business and Right People what they need.

That’s what this move is all about.

Giving myself what I need and want.
Having more to give to my Right People.
Creating a life and work that is satisfying and fits me.

But isn’t this risky?

Yes. There is risk in leaving a lucrative career for something new.

Risk of failure.
Risk of losing our financial stability.
Risk of not being able to live the “American Dream” (which is pretty much bullshit anyway).

But, as Hiro so wisely shared with me, there is also risk in staying in my job.

Risk of losing my joy, passion and creativity.
Risk of becoming so depressed I’d give up on my business completely.
Risk of damaging my health by giving in to self-medication as a coping mechanism.

The more I listened to my heart, the harder it became to ignore its desires.

And the harder it became to ignore my heart, the riskier it felt to stay in a job that was taking the best of me and leaving only crumbs. The risks of staying feel far more costly to me than the risks of forging my own path.

Now begins the next adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.

The Fading Significance of Fortune Cookies

I used to love love love fortune cookies.

When presented with a plateful of cookies at the end of a meal, I would pause ever so thoughtfully to let my intuition tell me which cookie out of the bunch was the one that was meant for me – so that I would get the fortune that I was supposed to get.

I would crack them open with anticipation, so excited to see what would be printed on the little slip of paper tucked in the folds of the cookie.

When I got somethings stupid (like the ones that begin “Confucius say:”), I felt annoyed and cheated.

But if I got a fortune that talked about wishes coming true or unexpected wealth or having a bright future, I would keep it. Meditate on it, even.

As though the fortune were a message from the Universe about my Purpose-with-a-capital-P. And by keeping the slip of paper, its message would come to pass more quickly.

I needed the fortune to validate what I wanted. I needed it to tell me that the things I wanted could and would happen.

Last night, after our Chinese takeout dinner, we picked our fortune cookies. Mine said, “An unexpected event will bring you riches.” I realized, with a mix of gratitude and heartache, that the little cookies no longer held my fascination the way they once did. The message on the slip of paper was merely interesting.

Okay, okay…do I wish some unexpected even would bring me riches? Yes, that would be great. But I’m also not holding my breath that it will happen because a fortune cookie said so.

The heartache I felt was for knowing that things have changed. Goodbyes are always sad for me, and I’m in the process of slowly saying goodbye to the person I’ve been for most of my life. It’s good, mostly, but sometimes it feels painful and disorienting.

And I felt gratitude for the fact that I no longer need a fortune from a cookie to confirm my purpose in life or to bring me hope for birthing my dreams into reality. Apparently I no longer need that particular form of external validation.

Or maybe it’s that I am becoming more aware of the power I already have within me to ask for what I need. To give myself what I need.

After reading this post from Havi, and especially this comment from Hiro Boga, I’m realizing that for the last 10+ years, I’ve been on a journey toward the quality of Sovereignty.

Here’s an excerpt from Hiro’s comment:

The thing about Sovereignty is: It’s ours by virtue of our being. We don’t have to earn it–it’s a gift of grace. But because so many of us have grown up not knowing that our lives belong to us–that our bodies and thoughts and feelings and creativity belong to us–we look to others for permission to be who we are; or for validation; or for power, or something else that can only come from within.

When we don’t receive it, we doubt or blame ourselves, or we give our own pain away and blame or throw shoes at others.

We become disconnected from the inner dignity, self-responsibility and sense of belonging that sovereignty brings.

My quest started out as a search for the Perfect Job. Pretty quickly I realized that I didn’t want just a job – I was seeking fulfillment, so my goal became to discover my Mission in Life. At that time, I believed there was only one right way to fulfill that mission and I needed to know what that way was. (You can imagine how quickly I became stuck with that kind of pressure.)

Within the last couple of years, I stopped believing that there is only one way for me to fulfill my mission, and no longer felt certain that I have a mission (or at least, if I do have a mission, it goes way beyond my income generating activities).

Within the last few months, I’ve changed course again. Now, at its core, this adventure is about learning a whole new way to interact with myself.

It’s about connecting with all of my different Selves, who make up the whole of Me. And it’s about figuring out who I really am, and giving myself permission to be whoever that person turns out to be.

******************************************************************************

Friendly reminder: I have four spots left at my Celebratory Launch Price of $240 for a 3-session coaching package (available until 9/18). I would love to see them go to people who are really ready to focus on creating the life they want. If that’s you, get in touch here. Or maybe you know someone? Thanks for helping me spread the word!