Does this ever happen to you?
You decide on a course and set out with the best of intentions, only to find yourself overtaken by life events, work, health issues and a general sense of weariness.
Well, that’s what’s happened to me.
Just emerging from a cold, but still swamped by duties other than those I’m happy to impose on myself, in the process of trying to lose weight and wondering why my financial sums don’t seem to have been adding up, I feel like I’ve spent the last several weeks blundering around in fog. I’m not entirely sure where I am and I’ll be damned if I know how I got here.
Poor planning, of course, and my own fault. I’ve taken on more than I should have and I’m paying the price. Worst of all, the sheer effort of coping with all the extra things I agreed to has robbed me of precious time and energy for the things I want to do; no, the things I must do if I’m going to achieve my goals.
It’s not that some of this stuff hasn’t been enjoyable – and that’s part of the problem. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by things which seem fun, but which are actually distractions that, ultimately, lead to frustration and disappointment in the longer term.
But at least the wobble off course has been recognised, and it’s clear what the corrective action needs to be. First of all, I mustn’t beat myself up about the things I could do nothing about. Secondly, I need to acknowledge that recognising the problem is the beginning of the cure.
There’s a really interesting book and audio series on psycho-cybernetics by Dr Maxwell Maltz, and I remember a particular phrase: “I am a mistake maker, but I am not my mistakes.” We have to recognise that mistakes have been made, forgive ourselves and move on, not wallow in a downward spiral of misery.
I’m also going through a phase in which I’m realising that I need to set more realistic timescales for some of the things I want to achieve, especially creatively. I’m recognising that I’m going to have to be patient and accept how long it’s going to take to change certain aspects of my life on the road to creative freedom. The more we attempt, the more mistakes we make, which is a good sign: it means we’re moving forwards. It’s easy to just do nothing and make no mistakes. Trying new stuff is hard.
This has been scratching at the back of my mind ever since Joanna Penn asked me to be one of her early ‘guinea pigs’ for her Creative Freedom Course (which is superb, by the way). Part of the course material is a comprehensive planning document, and it asks you to get specific about how much you intend to achieve, and by when. At the time I first devoured the course, I was really pumped up about the possibilities, but now realise that I really should have given myself some distance and time for sober reflection. It’s time for me to re-visit that plan.
This is not to say that I’m not extremely positive – I am – but I had underestimated how much time it was going to take to ‘clear the decks’ of all the other stuff I already had on my plate. And, as is very common, I simply failed to allow for the unexpected, such as ill health, fending off depression and the demands of the day job, which is still subject to upheaval now that there has been a change in the management at the magazine’s publishing house.
So now, like a relieved sea captain when the fog finally lifts, I think I can finally make out the shape of the shoreline, and hope to have learned from recent experiences as I get out my charts and prepare to plan a safe course to my destination.
I’ll keep you posted.
Photo: River Waal by Robin van Willigen, Freeimages.com