Just stay focused. Don't get pulled away. By what if's, what else's... or procrastinating. This is your living, breathing life.
Don't get pulled away from yourself.
So what are you going to do? If you’re working a job you don’t like. You live by the beach but dream of the mountains.
You have to spend what little free time you have focusing on how to get to where you want to be. Doing this is the only way you’re going to get out of where you are and to where you want to be.
Don’t be fooled - this is exactly what you should be focusing on. This is your birthright. This is the meat that should be your priority, that you should have been taught all about in school: how important it is to figure this all out. And carving a path to get there.
You’re the only one who's going to really look out for you like this.
Taking Steps to Get There
It’s a lot less daunting if you look at the whole thing in baby, micro steps. But don’t underestimate those steps. In fact, maybe make a list of the steps and next to each write a huge appreciation of that seemingly baby step.
For example, “Yes! I left my job for a less-paying job but one that gives me more work-life balance, or one that has more hours but is less stressful and lets me focus on building my dream business.” Or “Yes! I got my first remote job even if it’s only part-time and not enough money - it’s a remote job and I’ve been wanting to set up that work lifestyle for years.”
You can build on these steps.
You congratulate yourself for them. You understand how important each and every one is. Each adds up to the value of the whole process. You can’t just jump over the steps to getting there and magically arrive there one day. These baby steps are IT. Each one is exactly. what. you. need.
Sooner or later you’re a lot further along the step path than you thought.
The Ebb and Flow of the Process
And you need to make space for yourself in this process. This is one of the most important parts: the relationship with ebb and flow. Contract and expand. You follow the waves that rise and fall because they are the essential rhythm to your stream. The necessary rise and fall to a song's beat. When you stay in for a week and feel like a hermit crab for it, just embrace it, because that contraction incubates you to a point where you’re ready to come out of your shell with the just the right amount of vigor.
For example, I focused a lot on writing lately. It was just what I was simply being drawn to. But as a journalist and photographer, just the other day I was telling a friend how I feel I’m letting my photography slip away, and that photography is really important to me, and I feel like I need to be doing so much… more. She said, “Why can’t you just have this wave of writing?”
It was shockingly simple. So I decided I’d just ride the wave and see if it comes again.
And - far from perfect - after the writing wave, I got really sick. So I went into more of a contraction where all I wanted to do was watch movies every night for a week. I barely watch TV to begin with.
But there I was: sick, watching movies, not photographing, not writing. I felt like I was just… slacking.
But I experimented with allowing myself to feel the way I felt. Within reason. I didn’t fall off of the face of the Earth. I still showed up to my job each day. I still took care of myself as I was sick. I still thought about photography and writing. Did a little research on a camera I want.
And then, I got the photography itch. It took five days altogether. That’s really not that long - and allowing myself to focus on writing when I felt compelled, and allowing myself to rest when I was sick, seems so worth just a 5-day delay.
The itch came. It will come.
And when the itch came for me, I actually wasn’t totally ready to scratch it either. I didn’t want to move from my comfortable position.
But I had been keeping my eye open for it.
That’s what we do as people who are in charge of our own futures, as people who are responsible for and dedicated to going after what we want for our lives: we respect the way our bodies feel, we respect the other obligations we have, but we walk the line of challenging ourselves to go when it looks like the weather might change.
In my case, my old photography teacher and I were half-heartedly communicating for roughly two weeks about a lesson on a 1930s camera. He had things going on. I was sick and busy. I think we both just weren’t pulled to make something happen. So I allowed those two weeks, and then I got the itch.
Even though I didn’t 100% feel like it, I started small: I asked when he was available - which coincidentally happened to be that same day. I drove there and we met for 3 hours, both so excited to talk about the camera and learn it. It was awesome.
And so you tiptoe one little feeler out there. And then your line snags, the universe responds.
This relationship with ebb and flow is also a matter of your relationship with yourself. It’s about trusting yourself, really. You have to trust yourself with the way you feel and allow yourself to feel that way.
Then trust yourself to keep you honest when you know it’s time to start scratching the surface even if you’re not totally pumped to do it.
Then you trust that your efforts will be received by the universe. And if they are not - if your attempts take time and once you've gotten there you still don’t feel like they are received, then you find another way around, a new route, a new relationship, a new method of applying for jobs. You try different things and you keep going.
Because no thing is more important than you staying with yourself. No matter what, you stay focused on yourself and what you want for your life. You go after that with everything you have while respecting your exhaustion and your need for happiness and peace of mind.
Continue to put yourself out there even when you don't think your work is amazing or perfect anymore. You know sometimes when you’ve spent a lot of time creating something, somewhere down the line you get hit with this feeling that it suddenly doesn't seem as good as you hoped?
Just keep putting yourself out there. If you want to adjust a bit, adjust a bit. Not everything has to be perfect, or what you thought it was going to be.
This one simple effort is the only difference between you and the famous musicians, #1 best selling authors, entrepreneurs (that don’t have some family inheritance advantage): they keep throwing themselves out there through imperfect attempts and unreceived attempts.
Think about pieces of art you've looked at as you caught yourself saying, "My goodness I could make something better than this." But you’re not in that gallery because you don’t. The artist is in that gallery because she simply did keep making, what she thought was great and not great, through those voices.
This lesson has been so amazing for me. When I look back at my blog, I am more proud that I kept putting myself out there even when I didn’t think what I wrote was perfect anymore.
Because in the big picture, it’s authenticity that is beautiful, that we need more of. Things we all feel. Things we all can relate to. Errors, typos, passions that are messy. Not perfect words. If I beat myself up about getting it all right and perfect, I am sure I would have withheld blog posts and I am sure my blog would not be where it is today. And if I wrote with that mentality of writing perfectly, my blog would feel stale to you. It would be empty and have nothing special that resonated with you. It would be like things you’ve already read in mainstream books.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-Harold Thurman Whitman
So, stay reasonable. Don’t force yourself to some point of exhaustion, but stay focused through doubts or setbacks.
Your life is yours. Hopefully one day it will be shared if it’s not already. But you need to fulfill your birthright, which is to have your own happy existence and allow everything else to be beautiful, glorious add-ons.