Category Archives: dealing with stuff

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

Redefining Success

Image: Spiral Staircase

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing a serious lack of motivation.

There was a lot that contributed to it…health stuff (which showed up as fatigue, depression and anxiety), family stuff and financial stuff.

I was trying to gear up to open registration for the next group of projectizers in Project Prowess (my program to help you choose, start and finish projects), but the work just wasn’t getting done. It felt as if I was trying to swim through molasses.

I started and deleted upwards of ten posts. Even if I was lucky enough to experience that initial burst of inspiration about an idea, somewhere between brain and fingers-on-keyboard it would all go horribly wrong.

I did my best to be kind to my body, because I know that pushing doesn’t always work. And having a hidden agenda behind the self-care often cancels out the benefit.

I’d do okay for a day, sometime three, but then I’d start freaking out about how long it had been since I’d done any real work. (And getting to the bottom of what constitutes “real work” is a whole ‘nother blog post.)

After a couple of weeks? I was convinced my motivation was gone forever.

On some level, it felt as though this not-working was becoming a pattern. Or maybe a habit.

But what to do about it?

If I looked at my to-do list and started thinking about all the work I hadn’t been doing and could have been doing over the last couple of weeks, it was an instant panic-fest. So that’s definitely what not to do.

I had to cut myself a lot of slack. But this was a different kind of slack – not the “poor thing, why don’t you go lie on the fainting couch for a while” kind.

I had to let go of any attachment to how much output I would have. Over and over again. Yet I needed to push myself (gently) to start working more.

If I only got as far as opening the admin panel of my site (which is where I write my posts) before I got distracted by Twitter or Facebook, that was okay.

And if I only wrote a sentence or two before I hit refresh on my inbox. Or *cough* played a game of solitaire, that was okay, too.

Every time I lost focus, I had a choice to make:

Would I collapse into the distraction, subsequent frustration and sense of having failed, or would I bring myself back to my work and try to take one more step?

I couldn’t expect to just crank out hundreds of words (or to plow through my task list) all at once, because it had been weeks since I’d done that.

Success is what YOU say it is

I get to decide what counts at success.

So do you.

We all hear tons of messages, day in and day out, about how our productivity should look. And often the message is that we should be kicking ass and taking names. Or just doing it or getting over it.

But in the end, it’s up to us.

The Rub

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you know I’m not a fan of pushing yourself to the point where it essentially becomes a violent act. Our bodies and souls need nourishment, and often lack of motivation and fatigue are messages that we need to replenish.

But there’s this other element of commitment that’s absolutely necessary in the creation process.

Sometimes commitment means not working, even when it feels like you’ll fall behind.
But sometimes it looks an awful lot like “forcing” yourself to work.

And therein lies the rub.

Only you can know whether you need to flex your commitment muscles by working when you don’t feel like it or by resting when you have lots to do.

That’s the dance we have to do as entrepreneurs…what works for us today may not be what we need tomorrow or next week.

There’s no formula to follow other than know thyself.

And that, as with so many other things, is a process.

How about you?

How do you define success? And is your definition truly yours, or did it come from someone else?

I designed Project Prowess to teach you the foundational skills that will allow you to get shit done while customizing the creation process for YOU.

I know first-hand that cookie cutter-solutions almost never work. We’re all unique, so what are the chances that someone else’s formula will work for you?

Project Prowess will teach you how to get more projects done in ways that fit who you are and how you work. The program starts March 8, so I hope you’ll check it out!

Image credit: edvvc

Going from Beautiful Idea to Finished Creation

I’ve been thinking about projects. You know, those things we want to create that will help our people. And grow our businesses. Stuff like ebooks, courses, services and products.

And I’ve been pondering what gets in the way of going from idea to plan to finished creation – sanely and enjoyably.

The ideas are plentiful, but don’t always take off

I think for most of us, the ideas are there. (In fact, usually too many ideas and choosing what to focus on is the problem.)

Often, when an idea bubbles up into our consciousness, there’s a period of Great Infatuation where the idea is all you can think about. I’ve lost many a night of sleep because I can’t stop mooning over how cute some idea is.

And then – eventually – the Great Infatuation is over

Maybe we look at all our other commitments and feel like we can never do justice to our idea, so why bother starting.

Or we’re willing to start but can’t figure out how.

Or maybe we start but the Voices tell us the idea is stupid after all.

Or we lose steam because the project has since ballooned into a magnum opus and it’s just not fun anymore.

Or sometimes we get all the way to the end and just can’t bring ourselves to expose our fragile creation to people who might not appreciate it.

Regardless of why or how, it winds up being damned challenging to get our project into the hands of the people we created it for.

Thoughts…I haz them.

Between completing many a project as a database programmer (in another life) and creating and launching offerings for my people here, I’ve learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t.

But before I start spewing what I know all willy-nilly, I’d like to know about your experience with projects.

Where do you get stuck?
What do you wish you knew about how to go from idea to finished creation?


You can answer here in the comments, or you can take this super quick 6-question survey.

Your answers will help me focus on the stuff that will make it easier for you to bring your creations into the world. Creations that your people need. And I want to help you get them out there.

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.

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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!

Making Progress (Part 3)

In case you’re new here (hi!), I’ve been writing about making progress on the big stuff we want to do. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

In line with the recipe for progress (Microsteps + Commitment = Progress), I committed to working through the Right-Brain Business Plan.

It did not go as expected.

I set three appointments with myself. Put them on the calendar and everything.

The first appointment was frustrating because the RBBP is image-based, and I was seriously lacking in available images.

But it showed me all sorts of things about why it can seem like committing to something doesn’t actually help us get it done. Which, in turn, helped me create a workbook to share with you guys.

(You can still get the workbook by signing up in the box in the right sidebar, or by signing up in the Part 2 post.)

The biggest thing it showed me is the importance of really wanting the thing you’re committing to.

Without that, you’re almost sure to peter out when you try to do the work.

In a nutshell, that’s what happened to me with the RBBP.

Although it’s something I would like to do, and it’s something that would be good for me to do, it’s not something I want to do right now. (I’ve written before about the pitfalls of doing something you don’t truly want just because it would be good for you.)

There’s other stuff that’s higher on the priority list. And I’m dealing with meat-suit issues again.

Add it all up and I just didn’t have the steam to follow through.

Quitting’s not so easy

I’ve got some Stuff around quitting. It’s hard for me not to see it as a form of failure.

Maybe some of you read the posts, got the workbook, committed to something, and now you’re considering whether to continue.

Maybe you’ve got Quitting Baggage like I do and you feel like you’ve failed if you quit, but you’re struggling to find the juice to continue.

If you get nothing else from reading this post, here’s what I want you to know:

If you got as far as even considering committing to and microstepping the thing you want to do, you have not failed.

It’s a process.

Yes, in an ideal world, we only commit to the things we truly want. Our lives cooperate enough to fulfill the commitment. We might have a hard time along the way, but we keep reminding ourselves why we committed in the first place. And we find the discipline to carry on even when things are hard.

In an ideal world…hahahahaha!

Sometimes things don’t work out ideally.

We sign up for something we don’t truly want.
We over-estimate our capacity to take on another commitment.
The cost of the commitment far outweighs the current and future benefit.

What to do if that’s what’s happened to you?

Approach the situation mindfully.

Look at your own patterns around commitments, and the following through (or the bailing out) of them.

(My own pattern is that I tend to commit without thinking through what the commitment will require from me.)

Pay attention to how it feels while fulfilling the commitment.

Notice how you feel after you’ve backed out.

Take notes on what you learned.

Beating yourself up won’t help, so don’t bother. Especially if you chose as well as you could based on reasonable information.

Nothing is wasted. There are no mistakes.

Try to remember that nothing is wasted. Sometimes, it’s not possible to know whether you’re ready to commit until you’ve committed.

Trust that if you un-commit to something you actually really do want, you’ll get the chance to re-commit.

Likewise, if you fulfill the commitment and it wasn’t what was right for you, there’s still so much learning in that.

We all want to make progress on stuff. We’re taught to find our worth in it.

But this is important: Don’t forget to define “progress” for yourself.

In my definition, noticing and gathering information counts for a lot.

How about you?

How did you do with committing and microstepping (or not)?
What insights did you gather?

Don’t forget, the Microstep Support Sessions are still available through Friday, May 6. Whether you know your next project or still need to choose, let me support you in making progress as painlessly as possible.

Making Progress (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my last post, I committed to working on my Right-Brain Business Plan.

Last week I had my first Microstep appointment (for the RBBP, at least).

In the sense that I fulfilled the commitment, it’s a big win. I spent my hour working on the RBBP.

But it didn’t feel the way I expected.

Since there’s a lot of emphasis about gathering images from magazines, I was at a bit of a disadvantage because we don’t do the magazine thing.

I thought I could get images online, and I did get a few, but it’s not the same as thumbing through a magazine and cutting out the stuff that grabs you.

The trick, it seems, is finding the right search terms so you’re not sifting through thousands of images that are useless. (Hint: Searching for “Freedom” will get you a lot of American flags and silhouettes of people jumping in the air.)

So yeah, it was a little overwhelming. And as is true of so many things I do in my life, my expectations led to some disappointment. Frankly, I thought I’d accomplish a lot more in my hour.

It got me thinking…

It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. The question, then, becomes, What do I do about it?

For one thing, I see that I should add a step to my How to Make Progress Steps (say hello to Step 3a):

1. Figure out a reasonable amount of time per week you can commit to working on your Thing.

2. Schedule the time on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment with a hard-to-see specialist (i.e., don’t reschedule unless it’s an emergency).

3. When it’s time for your appointment, work on your Thing. Do a microstep (or several).

3a. After your appointments, review what worked and what didn’t, and how you can make it easier on yourself next time.

4. Keep making (and keeping) those appointments.

But sometimes it still doesn’t work.

Committing to stuff can be hard.

And so can finding the steps that you need to take.

And even if you do both of those things, sometimes the follow-through is elusive.

That’s what I noticed after my first appointment…I really wasn’t looking forward to the next one.

There are lots and lots of reasons committing to something isn’t enough to get you to make progress on it.

A little extra help

To help with this process of committing and making progress, I created a mini-workbook.

It’s got lots of questions and tips for finding your capacity, choosing the right microsteps, setting yourself up for success, and reviewing how it all went so you can tweak the process to work for you.

I also included lots of info about what might be causing you to bail on your commitments, with some ideas for how to address the obstacles.

(In case you’re wondering, my obstacles around committing to working on the RBBP are that I’ve got something more pressing that’s weighing on me, and I’ve got some physical stuff going on. So, I used the hour I committed to to address the other, more urgent matter. And I’m committing to focusing on taking care of my body. Then we’ll see.)

I sent the workbook out to the Shmorian Society members a couple of days ago, but you can still get it.

Let me know you’d like to get it by entering your information below. You’ll get a link to the workbook right away, and in the next couple of days you’ll also start receiving my Shmorian Project Prescription ecourse.

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Note: You’ll get a lot more out of the workbook if you read my Making Progress post first.

Want even more support?

If you decide you’d benefit from even more help, I’m doing a little something special in the one-on-one arena.

For a limited time, I’m offering 30-minute sessions geared specifically toward finding the best Microsteps for you to take – ones you can commit to comfortably – so that you can make progress sustainably.

Progress doesn’t have to be painful.

You can get the details about that over here.

Of course, I really hope the workbook and the sessions help you make progress on something that’s important to you.

But more importantly, I hope it lets you know that there are legitimate reasons you’re not making as much progress as you’d like, and none of those reasons is that there’s something wrong with you.

If you’ve already been joining in on the Making Progress fun, how has it been going?
What kinds of things would help you continue to make progress?

Making Progress

There’s a pattern I see in myself and in a lot of my clients.

We want something. That something is big, and involves change and usually a hell of a lot of work to make it happen.

We have limited time and energy. And pre-existing commitments that are either unchangeable (like caring for young children) or not immediately changeable (like needing to pay bills with a day job).

Add it all up and it starts to feel like the Thing you want is so big that it can never happen.

I get it. Believe me, I get it.

But here is the key to getting from where you are now to where you want to be:

Microsteps + Commitment = Progress

Lemme ‘splain.

First, the Microsteps

Every big thing that you want is made of steps. The big steps can always be broken down into smaller steps.

And the smaller steps can be broken down into microsteps.

Remember in my video, how I said that the thing we want sometimes feels like a wall? Well, when we’re staring at a wall it’s easy to miss the fact that the wall was built from bricks or stones or sticks.

We have to choose to stop and find the microsteps. Even when a part of us is freaking out, or feeling resentful that it’s so damned hard.

Most important of all is Commitment

How many times have you known what you wanted to do, and maybe you even knew exactly what the next steps were, but life got in the way?

Next thing you know, two or three months have gone by and you haven’t done any work on [insert that thing you want here].

I doubt I’m alone in trying to take an all-or-nothing approach. I’m constantly catching myself looking for unrealistically large blocks of time so I can work on something from start to finish.

Maybe it comes down to the desire for instant gratification, but somehow, spending only a small amount of time feels pointless. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s painful. Like we’re just teasing ourselves by drawing out the process to an excruciating time-frame.

And yet.

What if the only way to get what you want is to work at it a little bit at a time?

If that were the only way, would you scrap it completely?

What if working at it a little bit at a time would create a snowball effect, but you can’t see that from where you are right now?

What if the simple act of truly committing would allow the Universe to conspire on your behalf?

Would that be enough for you to commit to experimenting with commitment?

How to make progress, in 4 (easy?) steps

1. Figure out a reasonable amount of time per week you can commit to working on your Thing. (Hint: if you don’t know what your Thing is, then you can commit to Thing-Finding.)

2. Schedule the time on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment with a hard-to-see specialist (i.e., don’t reschedule unless it’s an emergency).

3. When it’s time for your appointment, work on your Thing. Do a microstep (or several).

4. Keep making (and keeping) those appointments.

How to make this technique work

Start with a small time commitment, because in the beginning, fulfilling the commitment is more important than making progress.

A good place to start is one hour per week, putting it on your calendar for at least three weeks in a row. But if that’s too much, commit to an amount of time that works for you.

If, when the time comes, you’re not “in the mood” to work on your Thing, do not give yourself a pass. You must use the time for something related to your Thing. Writing about why you don’t feel like working on it is a completely legitimate (and productive) use of that time.

Treat this as an experiment. Pay attention to how it feels to make the commitment, fulfill the commitment, and take microsteps. Notice how it feels to have a regular date with the thing you want to do.

I’m betting that as you make even little bits of progress, it’ll be easier to keep the appointments. Soon you’ll probably be willing to increase your weekly commitment.

Care to join me?

Just to prove that I can walk my talk, I’m doing this, too.

I’m committing to one hour per week, for the next three weeks, to work through the Right-Brain Business Plan. Thursdays at 5pm Pacific, to be precise.

(I can’t begin to express how much Stuff this is bringing up for me, but that’s a post for another day.)

I know it’s not enough to finish, but I need to start somewhere. I need to feel what it feels like to make progress on this thing.

Are you up for the challenge? In the comments let me know:

– How much time will you commit to?
– What will you work on?
– What would help make the Microsteps and/or the Commitment easier?

Let’s do this thing!

Trust

I’ve been thinking a lot about Trust lately.

It’s been quiet around here, because truth be told, I’ve been going through another bout of hard. Hard physical stuff leading to even harder emotional stuff leading to a lot of not-working.

The hardest part, of course, is when Urgency shows up and makes damn sure I’m aware of all the work I haven’t been doing.

Cue freak-out and exponentially increased stuckness.

But there’s one thing that would stop the freak-outs and frustration in their tracks:

Trust.

Trust that things will work out.
Trust that this too shall pass.
Trust that we have what we need even when it feels like we don’t.
Trust that the Universe is not just a passive observer, but actually wants us to succeed.

A common scene over the last few weeks was me, sitting down to write, staring at the empty page. And then a slowly building sense of despair at the lack of words. And, after that, anger at my inability to push through and make something happen already.

How would that scene be different if I could really trust? If I really, truly believed that things would work out?

Maybe I’d still sit down to write, but when the words pulled a no-show, I’d probably just shrug and say, “Well, I guess it’s not time to start writing, yet.”

Instead of trying to force it and increasing my frustration levels, I’d do nourishing things. Maybe even fun things. Because I would know that I’d get the necessary work done before any imagined doomsday.

In an interesting synchronicity, the lovely @zenatplay wrote the Twitter version of this the other night:

Creative incubation vs painful procrastination. Turns out the difference is trust.

I’ve had enough painful procrastination. I want more creative incubation.

Trusting is not the same as hiding

Let me state up front that I’m not talking about just waiting around for things to be perfect before attempting to do any work. That’s actually not trusting, either. That’s more like avoiding responsibility.

No. I’m talking about working in the ways I can (both inner- and outer-work), when I can. And when I can’t work, giving myself what I need as best I can.

Trust that the universe is on our side sounds like one of those things you either have or you don’t. Kind of like a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So how do you get it when you don’t have it?

These thoughts are still warm and fresh – possibly even underbaked – but here they are just the same.

It starts with a choice*

I’d never tell you what to believe.

However, I am choosing to build trust. Choosing to believe that the Universe is helpful and kind.

Because when I don’t trust, my life becomes far too painful.

Not trusting means every failed launch or bout of stuckness becomes yet another example of how hard life is.

Not trusting means I focus on the hard stuff without appreciating the good.

Not trusting isn’t working for me anymore.

* Starting with a choice is true for other things, too.

Taking the long view

Where can I find evidence that the Universe is on my side?

When I look back at the really unpleasant situations in my life, after enough time passes, there’s always been some kind of positive outcome.

But I want you to hear me when I say that I am not telling you to “look at the bright side” or “find the silver lining.”

When the crappy stuff happens, there’s no getting around the fact that it sucks. And sometimes it hurts like a motherfucker. (By the way, that’s not the time to go searching for evidence.)

But by allowing yourself to acknowledge and experience the pain, eventually it shifts. Eventually you can begin to see the tiny glimmers of good.

The messy break-ups helped clarify what was important to me in a relationship.

Becoming chronically ill while living in the Caribbean forced me to become a lot more aware of my body and how I was treating it.

Getting laid off from that one job right before getting married forced me to get off my ass and find a much better job.

The betrayal I experienced at the church my husband and I attended for years led me to re-evaluate my beliefs, and helped me to stop giving away my power.

The five excruciating years I spent trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and the 3 years of learning to be okay with doing it? They led me to lots of Thing-Finding wisdom.

And now, even though I don’t know where it will lead me, I’m starting to see the glimmers of good that are coming from all the heartache I’ve felt in 2010. So far, it’s led me to explore the idea of Trust, and to write this blog post.

I don’t care whether it’s true or not

I spent the last thirty-mumble years believing, at best, that the universe doesn’t care. And at worst, I believed that I could only ever have the things God wanted me to have, and God almost never lets people have what they want.

So I’m very familiar with how those beliefs affect my life.

What do I lose if I choose to trust that the Universe is my ally, but it actually isn’t?

Nothing.

Whether this theory is true or not, I will still be loads happier if I trust that it’s true and live my life as though it is.

This doesn’t erase the pain of hard stuff, nor does it make me immune to it.

Chances are, some situation will send me into a tailspin, and in those moments I won’t be able to trust. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to trust.

Like so many other things, it’s a practice. A practice of consciously noticing the ways that the hard stuff led to good stuff. And finding ways to remind myself that even when I don’t know how, things will turn out okay.

Similar to how other types of patterns shift, eventually I’ll start remembering to trust sooner.

Today’s Comment Zen

I’m feeling a little nervous about pressing Publish on this one.

Here’s what I’m really trying to say with this post:

It’s been a hard year for me. And I realize that Trust would lessen the sense of hard. Or at least it would help me maintain a few molecules of hope, and allow me to stop trying to force myself to work when I can’t.

I’m sharing this here because maybe a little more Trust would be helpful for you, too. And maybe you’ll even want to join me in gathering evidence that we have reason to trust. If not, that’s totally okay.

What I’d like: I want to hear about your experiences with Trust. What has helped you to trust? What would you do differently if you trusted that everything would work out in the long run?

What I’d rather not have: Evidence that the world is falling apart and the Universe doesn’t care. Reasons not to build trust. Advices on what I should do instead.

(Ironic update: I finished this post a couple days ago and last night decided that I’d publish it today. This morning? The laptop my husband uses won’t boot. So, yeah, I guess this is an opportunity to practice trusting. You know, after I’m done with fist-shaking.)

The Ninth Try’s a Charm?

Okay, people. I’m just going to lay it out here.

This is the ninth post I’ve started since the last one I published. Ninth. I kid you not.

I’ve had a really horrible month of insomnia, depression and anxiety. Basically a repeat of the hormonal wonkiness I wrote about previously, except a hell of a lot worse. (I guess I should just learn to expect that reasonable changes to my meds lead to an unreasonable and unexpected amount of turmoil.)

Not a lot of work got done this last month – my energy went first to client sessions, and if there wasn’t anything left, well, tough turds, nothing else got done.

I spent a lot of time wallowing in despair, and questioning whether I can pull off this business of starting a business at all.

I even went on my first ever self-imposed internet sabbatical last week. I was hoping it would kick the writer’s block, but four of the nine posts were started during or after the sabbatical. Although, I suppose, technically, if I publish #9, I might have to give the sabbatical some of the credit for that.

Either way, it appears that I can’t write posts as though everything is fine if everything isn’t fine.

I peeked in at the Twitter Bar on Saturday and the lovely Catherine Caine was handing out random compliments. I was feeling pretty blue so I asked for one. Here’s what she said about me:

Hey everyone, @victoriashmoria is super-duper smart and compassionate and a provider of delightful clarity.

Isn’t that awesome?

Besides making me shed a tear or seven, it made me realize that I have been doing a really lame job of giving myself credit and cutting myself slack. Not that that’s new for me, but there’s nothing like a big fat reminder to renew my resolve at shifting the patterns.

So, this is me, reminding myself of some things I need to remember. Maybe they’re things you need to remember, too.

Cut me some slack, Jack!

We can only base our decisions on the information we have at the time.

We had a certain amount of money in the bank when I decided to quit my job. And I had a certain number of clients. The time felt right to quit and focus on my business. I couldn’t predict that I’d wind up having a few very bad months with low productivity, so why do I beat myself up for quitting when I did?

Shit happens, and you just do the best you can with it.

I’ve got some fucked up (subconscious) stories about what causes what (with some warped Law of Attraction bullshit thrown in for good measure). It’s really easy for me, on top of the actual issue I’m dealing with, to blame myself for whatever is happening. Especially physical and emotional stuff.

Not even slightly helpful.

Capacity changes, needs change, health changes, energy levels change. And in response, you shift deadlines and priorities. And meet your needs the best you can.

We don’t control the outcome, so we’d damn well better learn how to enjoy the journey.

Enjoying the journey doesn’t come easily for perfectionists. I am all about the outcome, and if the outcome doesn’t suit me, get ready for a tantrum.

But, I’m trying to shift that pattern. Maybe our financial situation will allow me to continue focusing on my biz full-time until it supports us, maybe it won’t.

Easier said than done, but I really want to enjoy what I’m doing now, without worrying about what may or may not happen later.

Toot toot!

And now, I’m going to remind myself of some of the things I’m good at. And some of the things I’m proud of myself for.

I was there for my clients despite all that’s going on.

I did my best to listen better to my body and give it what it needed.

I managed to get a birthday card and a Father’s Day card to my dad on time.

I’m probably going to publish this post even though I don’t love it and I’m afraid I sound like a grouchy, whiney baby. Or like I’m full of myself.

I was aware of my energy levels enough to shift priorities based on the quality of energy I had available.

Which meant I still managed to finish turning my Shmorian Thing-Finding class into the Shmorian Thing-Finding Kit.

I did a good job of staying present through this shitty month and only numbed out occasionally.

I am awesome at asking questions that help my Right People untangle their tangly stucknesses.

I notice patterns and pick up on clues that lead to plenty of A-ha moments, for me and my clients.

I made two of my past dreams come true: I taught scuba diving in the Caribbean and had a 10-year career in IT (yes, I quit both of those things, but originally they were dreams of mine). Surely I can make this one happen, too.

I’m a superstar at helping people feel safe and supported as they work through an issue.

I’m really good at breaking down complex ideas and processes into simple, digestible pieces.

I haven’t given up, and I still know I made the right decision to quit my job.

Join me?

I know I need to get better at giving myself credit for my accomplishments and appreciating my successes. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So let’s do some horn-tooting together, okay?

What can you toot about in the comments? Or what’s something you can cut yourself slack on?

List as few or as many as you’d like. And even if you don’t want to do it here (in public), for the love of the gods, do it privately! We all could use a little more self-appreciation.

Oof

I’m tired of looking at my site and seeing that I haven’t written a post in nearly a month. A month, people!

So, I’m posting.

It’s kind of a placeholder. Just a post to say I’ve posted, so that I feel less pressure. You know, the pressure to actually write something, when (as you’ll see below) I really didn’t feel like writing.

The last three+ weeks have been pretty hellish. But not in an outward way, exactly. It’s been more of an internal hellishness.

I’m still processing my way through it, but there were two big things happening.

1. I launched my course, and it did not go nearly as well as I’d hoped.
2. Thanks to some medication I’m taking, I’ve had full-blown PMS for over a month.

Each of those two things, on their own, would have sucked big time, but together? Oof.

The timing is almost comical, really.

Putting oneself out there is hard enough. And not getting the desired response is easy to take personally. Or maybe that’s just me (but I don’t really believe that).

Sure, intellectually, I know that when you’re in business, sometimes you try things and they don’t take off. And you just have to troubleshoot and try again.

Easier said than done.

Lots of my patterns and Stuff were triggered, including my Tendency to Set Overly High Expectations, my Need to Place Blame Somewhere, and my Tendency to Say “Fuck It” and Go into Hiding.

But then, to top it off, the hormonal depression was magnifying all of it by a factor of 1000. I didn’t know that was part of the problem until I’d been utterly useless for two weeks straight and kept wondering why the hell I wasn’t feeling any better.

Maybe this is starting to sound like a load of excuses. But now that I’m starting to feel functional again – and like “me” – it’s more obvious how much I was “not me” while I was trying to work through this.

It’s impossible to know how much of how I handled it was because of my hormonal state, and how much was my “normal” reaction, because I can’t have a do-over of this experience minus the hormonal upheaval.

Either way, I’m feeling disappointed with myself for how I responded to this whole situation. And, truthfully, it would be comforting to know that the magnitude of my tantrums was at least partly out of my control.

Anyway…

I’ve been trying to address the patterns and the emotions with compassion, which hasn’t been easy. Especially when underneath them there’s a belief that I shouldn’t be feeling this way.

I’m working on reminding myself that none of this reflects on my ability to help people, even though my monsters are trying to convince me otherwise.

And working on being okay with feeling what I feel about this. Because lord knows I’d much rather have been able to Just Get Over It and Move On.

And I’ve been re-evaluating what’s next. Trying to find what’s real and true beneath the hurt, so that I can exercise my sovereignty, rather than making choices based on what my Stuff is whispering yelling in my ear. For now that means postponing my course for a couple of months, until I can get clear on what I need and what it needs.

This is one of those posts that is terrifying to publish. Feels a bit whiny, and maybe a tad defensive (which just goes to show that I’m still resisting some of my emotions).

But it would feel dishonest to go back to writing as though everything is fine. I’ve been transparent, so far, about this whole transition from not knowing what I want, to owning my desire to be a coach, to launching my practice, to quitting my job.

How could I not be transparent about the reality of launching a creation, having Stuff get triggered, and trying to deal with it while also dealing with meat-suit issues and the Usual Pressures of Running a Business?

It’s all learning. Or so I’ve heard. Launch let-down wisdom still TBD.

Today’s comment zen:

I’d love to hear about it if you can relate. But for the love of the gods, please do not make suggestions about what I should have done differently in terms of my launch or my sales page or my pricing. So help me, I will kick you in the shins. This is an advice-free zone.

Because that’s not what this is about. This is about acknowledging the aftermath of our Stuff getting triggered when we do something new and things don’t go as planned.