I’ve been on leave for the last 4 weeks and…I’m sick of it. Before you go yelling all “first world problem!” and “nice for SOME people!” at me, let me explain what I mean by this. Taking time off does not come naturally to me, so when I finally do sit back and relax, it takes about a week before I feel like I’ve actually exhaled. Then I have a good time for a while. Eventually, the desire for structure and routine (and actually producing something) start to eat away at me and I can’t wait to get back to my desk.
Earlier this week I came back to my desk. I happily straightened up my pink pens and bright blue Post-it notes. I had my coffee, water bottle, and a very long To Do list of stuff I was excited to get working on. I opened my email, my blog post, newsletter account. I was READY.
And then…I just… sat there. I stared at the screen for a while. I checked Facebook (because so much had obviously changed on there in the last 2 minutes). I deleted some emails. I stared at the screen some more. I wandered away to get a snack, then decided I was thirsty so I wandered away to get a drink (never mind there were 2 drinks on my desk already.) I played a few games on my phone, checked Facebook (nope, no changes), blew the dust and mysterious crunchy things out of my keyboard then texted a friend. Then I sat there some more. I can’t say for sure but at least three hours floated away while I did ABSOLUTELY FREAKING NOTHING. What the hell happened to all my excitement and the “thank god I’m back at work, the sleeping in was getting boring,” attitude…? It was like the “get shit done” Michelle had been replaced with a “can’t be bothered,” Michelle and as a result that To Do list was not getting any shorter.
This went on for a few days…more days than I’m willing to admit to. Each day I’d sit down with enthusiasm to work (I’m going to write ten articles! And ten newsletters! And write a new class! And solve ALL THE PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD!) and wake up some hours later out of a social media and phone game induced stupor. In my calendar I had an appointment with my new business coach and I considered cancelling it. What was I going to tell her? That I’d reached Level 1023 on Juice Jam? That Facebook had some great new year’s memes? That the long list of activities she and I brainstormed before Christmas was gathering dust? I didn’t cancel because I hoped that chatting to her would be the swift kick up the butt I needed. Tearfully I confessed all my snacking and playing and SLACKING OFF sins and whined about how I feel overwhelmed, not sure what to do next and I have no idea how to get my ass moving again.
She laughed at me.
I was not impressed.
I bare my heart and soul to her, I’m a WRECK about how my AMAZING WONDERFUL FANTASTICAL OMG SO AWESOME, WOOT WOOT, 2017 IS GOING TO BE MY BIATCH year has started off pretty crappy (although I did beat that one annoying level I’d been stuck on since Christmas.)
Still, she laughed at me.
She said, “Listen Michelle, just because you went on vacation it does not mean that suddenly all the issues and concerns you had before magically evaporated. No fairies came along over Christmas and fixed it for you. You just took a break from having to work on that stuff, you didn’t make it disappear.”
Not going to lie, I was kinda pissed off at that. She’s meant to motivate and encourage me, right? Not point out REALITY for heaven’s sake.
Later that same day I went on a walk and listened to a podcast about weight loss and emotional eating. In the interview, Brooke Castillo said, “People think that losing weight will fix everything. They think they’ll lose the weight and then magically they will get that new job, find a partner, fix everything which is wrong in their lives.” She went on to say that you’ve got to commit to doing the “fixing” work in the long-term, that the weight is just a symptom of underlying issues.
Well damn. I don’t listen to podcasts to get reality smacking me in the face. Aren’t I listening to those to be motivated and inspired?
Even later that same day I packed up one of my books to send and flicked through it absently. I came across an article I wrote about marketing, where I said that the hard part of marketing is to KEEPING ON DOING IT even when you’re broke, you don’t think it’s working, and you hate talking about yourself.
Geez. On the COVER of my book it says it provides “motivation and inspiration” and yet here I am being all real and shit.
Why is nobody just giving me a cuddle, a large jar of Nutella and a spoon?
Sometimes, the Universe smacks you in the face with the same message over and over before you finally get the message. All of us fall into this trap of thinking there is ONE THING which is going to change everything for us. It’s that one picture going viral, that one celebrity order, that one vacation, that big cheque coming in the mail. Plenty of times I’ve laid in bed at night and wished like hell that a big fat financial lifeboat will come sailing into my life (and of course it’s a lifeboat that I don’t need to pay back and is entirely free of strings.) Have you ever done that? Sat and thought, “If ONLY this thing happened, everything would be awesome,”…?
I think as the New Year dawns, we feel some bizarre pressure to start with a BANG, all full of unicorn blood and sparkly ideas and determined that this year, we’re going to get it all right. Reality is that nothing actually changed (other than the calendar, and maybe your energy levels) when the clock ticked over from last year to this.
Listening to my coach, the podcast and my advice I was reminded again that the BIG WINS really only happen when we keep showing up every day. Consistency is key. You won’t get it right every day, but by showing up every day, you’ll get it done. Rather than hope and wish for the big breakthrough or bright idea (or cheque), we’ve simply got to keep on working on our stuff. This doesn’t mean you can’t take a break from it once in a while, it means that you’ve got to be willing to just keep on with keeping on.
By the way, I asked my coach what I should do about this situation. I mean, I can’t play Juice Jam forever and expect to earn a living, right? She said, “Just start doing stuff. It doesn’t matter WHAT stuff, just DO something,” and I decided to take that advice to heart (hence this article.)
If your year has started with a whimper instead of the bang you’d hoped for, just keep on showing up. Eventually the desire to create will override the desire to fall asleep to the sounds of your phone pinging.
Unicorn blood and sparkly ideas are optional.