So I was hoping that after taking my unplanned blogging break, I could come back to you with all sorts of lessons learned and realizations arrived at and I would be able to report that I’d figured out the meaning of the universe.
Sorry to say, that didn’t happen. I’m not exactly sure what to call what I went through; for now, I’m just calling it a funk. I don’t think it was as extreme as a midlife crisis. But it was definitely more than just an average bad day or two.
I think we all have these times occasionally. What I did differently this time was just to allow it to unfold without fighting it. I wallowed. I did the absolute minimum that I had to: my client work and enough shopping to keep food in the house. I read, watched TV, played games, slept. The only thing I tried to consciously do every day was not to feel guilty about what I was doing.
As I relaxed and accepted the way I felt, I started to think about what I wanted to do. And then I started to write it down. Messy, at first, random ideas jotted down quickly. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to think. The more I thought, the more I wanted to organize what I was creating. It was very organic and free flowing (and really, nothing about me is organic or free flowing – maybe that’s why it worked).
Slowly, each day I started to do a little more. I made plans, I set goals. There were no big changes; I did not suddenly wake up one day and feel that everything fit into place. I feel much better than I did, but I still have days where I feel like everything I do is still very pointless.
But I try to put those days behind me when they are over. I just resolve to try again tomorrow. It’s really that simple. Just try again tomorrow.
A few of the things I realized:
I am enough – I am far too embarrassed to tell you the amount of money I spent last year on courses, ebooks, lessons, etc., to learn how to blog better, how to “find your passion,” how to “live the life you’ve always wanted,” blah, blah, blah. So much of the self-help industry is built upon a depressing fallacy: there’s something wrong with you and I can fix it. I just got tired of constantly feeling like I was inadequate.
You know what? I am enough. I don’t have all the answers and that’s okay. But I’d rather figure them out on my own than pay someone to sell me a bunch of clichés.
I don’t work as fast as other people do – I’m an introvert. I’m slow and deliberative. I have to think a lot about something before I do it. That’s just the way it is. I’m going to stop beating myself up for not producing as fast or as much as others do.
There are some things I will never be – I’ll never be the life of the party. I’ll never have a huge network of people to call on for help at a moment’s notice. I’ll never be that person everyone’s eyes turn to when I walk into a room.
Yes, despite my preaching about how wonderful it is to be an introvert, I still sometimes feel like I should be things I’m not. More outgoing, more “proactive,” more … something. But there’s just no value to thinking that way. I am what I am. And I am enough.
Doing new stuff is hard – Everybody blogs. Everybody uses social media. Everybody is a producer of some kind. So it gets easy to think that because everybody is doing it, it’s easy and should be easy for you too. But doing new things is hard. Blogging, writing ebooks, developing courses, building a business – it’s all hard. And not letting myself accept that fact was only making me miserable. So I accept – it’s hard. I just need to keep trying.
Planning works – I used to be an excellent planner. As a museum project manager, I once successfully managed a 5-year, $8 million dollar project – on time and under budget. But around the time I started working out of my home, my planning skills seemed to atrophy. I blamed it on a lot of things – working out of my home was a new experience; the nonprofit I worked for was so small I was the only staff member, so planning was less important; I didn’t have a planning system that I really liked. All excuses.
So I pulled out David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity to refresh myself on his system. I don’t use all of GTD, but much of it is helpful. I found an Android task management system I really like. And I did what I do for my clients: I came up with a content plan for this blog and my business blog. It covers blog posts, ebooks, courses, etc. for the entire year. It’s all mapped out in one place. And I feel enormously more settled with that work done. (And I try to ignore why I never before followed the advice I give my clients.)
Don’t let what is undone or what happened in the past weigh you down – I suspect this is true whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Although since introverts think so much, I wonder if this affects us more. But I can’t let what isn’t done bother me; it just wastes energy and doesn’t produce anything useful. And with a better planning system, I think this will be less of a problem.
The past is the past. If yesterday wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped, I just try to let it go. Tomorrow is a new day. There is another opportunity to try again. Because, really, what other choice is there?
Thank you for sticking with me if you’ve made it this far. As I said, there are no grand lessons here; it’s mostly just simple common sense. But I find we can forget common sense, sometimes, as we get caught up in the rush of life. I hope you found something here that strikes a cord with you. If you have some advice for getting through the bad days, I’d love to hear it in the comments.