Returning to Flow

I went hiking a couple days ago. It may have been my last hike between now and, oh, October. (I’ve been living in Phoenix for over 13 years now and I am so over the heat.)

As usual, I did a lot of thinking on the trail.

This time I was pondering the past week and noticing how challenging it was. And how everything just felt heavy and frustrating.

My oh-so-deep thoughts were interrupted, though, because I had reached a turning point on the trail. Was I going to head back toward my car, or was I going to do the “side-loop” that takes me up to the top of the mountain?

I wasn’t quite ready to head back. Plus, with my tendency to pushpushpush, I turned left and started climbing.

It was hot. And my head was starting to hurt. And I was moving much more slowly than usual.

Should I turn back? No, not yet.

My heart was starting to pound. And my headache was getting worse.

And who knows why, exactly, but I remembered Fabeku’s post about staying in the flow rather than fighting for stuff.

Why am I trying to push so hard to get to the top of this (small) mountain?
Isn’t my body making it pretty clear that it’s had enough scrambling in the heat?
So what if I turn back before reaching the top? And who cares if anyone sees me backtracking?

Hey, Shmoria…does any of this sound familiar?

Huh? Ohhhh.

File under: You teach what you need to learn.

For over a week, I’ve been fighting to complete a particular project. I thought it was something I could get done in a couple days, so I may as well just finish it and cross it off my list. But several days in and I was getting tangled up in stuck.

Too many days of fighting, and far from enough flow.

What’s missing?

In my sessions with clients, the first thing we work on together is figuring out what their Shmorian Elements* are – the qualities and values that will help them stay energized as they work. The Elements also provide lots of good information about how to prioritize and choose projects.

When things move from Flow to Fight, usually it’s because a key Element is missing from our work.

In my case, I was trying to turn my recent Shmorian Thing-Finding class into a downloadable product.

Several of my Elements were missing from that.

Creativity – Even though I was planning to add some additional goodies that I would have to create, the majority of the work involved did not feel creative to me at all. Yawn.

Fun – Quite often, I get Fun from the process of creating. But not only was there a lack of Creativity here, there definitely wasn’t enough other Fun stuff to make up for it.

Connection – This one’s the Big One for me. My strongest zing! of Connection comes from working one-on-one with clients. Sharing their a-ha moments and witnessing them go from stuck to unstuck. But even writing blog posts feels more Connection-ish for me than trying to turn a class into a product.

So now what?

Is turning my class into a product a worthwhile project? Absolutely.

But it needs to move a little lower down on the priority list, so that I’m still spending time working on the stuff that nourishes me.

Since two of my big Elements are Connection and Creativity, I would be happier creating a new live class to offer**. And continuing to blog. And making sure people know I’m not booked solid as far as client-work goes.

There are also three things I can do as far as my stuck project is concerned:

1. Break down what’s left into really small pieces, so that when I’m not drained, I can tick off a step here and there. If I feel like it. By spending a few minutes on it each day, it will get done soon enough.

2. Look at the project with fresh eyes and ask myself if the stuck-est parts are even necessary. I know I have a tendency to complicate things.

3. Look for ways to infuse the project with the Elements I need. I need to be a little bit careful here so that I don’t make the project too big (see #2).

However I wind up handling it, as much as possible, I need to enjoy the process. Because the whole point of quitting my job was to be able to do work that I enjoy, not dread.

* Shmorian Elements?!? I’ve been making some changes behind the scenes, but with the excitement of teaching my first class, I didn’t mention it. If you’d like to know what your Elements are so you can work in ways that are best for you, check out my Hire Me page to find out more and set up a free 30 minute chat.

** I’m already working on putting together a class (yay for getting unstuck!). If you want to be sure to hear about it first (this may be a limited-seat offering), please share your contact info here.

How about you?

Are you working on something that feels like more fight than flow?
How do you want that work to feel? What’s missing?
In what ways can you give yourself more of what’s missing?

We can even do some brainstorming in the comments. Let’s get some flow back into your projects!

5 thoughts on “Returning to Flow

  1. Kelly Parkinson

    This is the most beautiful post. Wow wow wow. And yay yay yay for getting unstuck!!!!!
    I went to a Ben Folds concert last night and was wondering why I was so happy just sitting there appreciating music. It was feeding this part of me that was, apparently, ravenously hungry. And I just realized that my project has turned into this process of ‘do this! do that! this sucks! say it better! do better! faster! go go go!’ And there wasn’t time built in to appreciate what I’ve done, or even just to appreciate music. Does all my free time have to be about working on my project? Why can’t I “waste” time appreciating things? And maybe before I hack away at my work, I could take some time to just appreciate it. Ben Folds is amazing live, btw. I think I had an out-of-body experience.
    .-= Kelly Parkinson´s last blog ..Why you’re never going to jump the shark =-.

  2. Mona

    Really liked reading this. Especially the part about Elements and knowing what’s required in order for you to enjoy your work and feel fulfilled. Reminded me of Jen Louden’s Daily Minimum Requirements for Self-Care. What are the bare min. that I need in order for me to feel present in my day? Available? What’s required (at a minimum) so that I feel good about what I’m working on and can stay in that place of flow as I work?
    .-= Mona´s last blog ..Overwhelm – A Socially Acceptable Form Of Abuse =-.

  3. misty/skaja

    beautiful post, Victoria. i find myself getting caught up in self-imposed limits, and taking on too much at one time. i referenced that same post by Fabeku in my ‘art doesn’t need a reason to exist’ post, and as i think about it more, the more i realize that whatever i’m feeling will come through in my art work. i’f i’m stressing out to finish a piece, i think it’ll give off a vibe that it all feels forced, and i won’t be as proud of it as i would a piece that i felt ‘in the moment’ the whole time. :)
    .-= misty/skaja´s last blog ..feeling punk rock? Question the Rules review =-.

  4. Rose

    Yay for getting unstuck. And well done for noticing on the trail that you needed to turn back. I find the main problem with this kind of change is about being present and thus remembering that we should be ‘X’ (going with the flow).

    Where to start…
    I have a piece of coursework due next week that has creatvity in it, but I have to finish all this reading and researching and come up with some unique point before I can get there. And the reading is boring and confusing.

    I want to be at least interested in the topic. The paper is 65 pages long and full of jargon terms, though it’s on a topic I enjoy. I want to feel like I’m learning and to enjoy reading it. I want a unique point to come into my head smoothly.

    Being a University assignment there’s not that much I can do about it. I guess just have tea and music with me when I’m reading it. Keep the internet up so I can look up and understand the big terms. Doodle a bit?

    Good luck to your commenters in getting through their stuck/s.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..A Link Edition: Depression =-.

  5. Jane

    I completely identify with this. At the moment I’m working on completing a portfolio to a deadline and had to do some tweaks on a piece that honestly I’m already done with in my head. Despite feeling completley lacking in inspiration and being so tired I could almost cry I thought I ‘should’ finish it yesterday evening. Completely ignoring the part of me saying I needed a night off. Then I did in a hour tonight what I spent three yesterday struggling to do. (I’m hoping the struggling laid groundwork though!)

    One of the hardest things I’ve found is where there is no flow to step into. This happened to me a while back when I started working for a charity as a volunteer. It was obviously fairly quickly that it was a poor match and I was contstantly forcing myself to do things because I thought I should. Even when I realised I needed to step away the guilts were astounding, even though it’s what I needed to do on every other level than they ones occupied by the shoulds.

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