One of my biggest struggles in life is expecting things to be a certain way, and I have my mind fixed on THE way it has to be. No other way will do, and I put so much energy and effort into controlling the outcome so that it turns out the way I have it in my mind.
It’s hard work. Because, guess what?
Things RARELY go the way we want them too.
But still, I’m determined. I work harder. I work longer. I stay up late. I do everything myself, because that’s the only way it will get done RIGHT.
It’s kind of like swimming upstream. Sure, I could go the opposite direction, and the river will loop around and drop me at the point where I want to be. But it’s the LONG way. If I could just. keep. going. MY way, the spot is right there, like 2 feet in front of me.
But how long do I say there and struggle against the current? Wearing myself out?
Instead, I could relax, float, and let the river take me around the bend. I’d get there just as fast, if not faster. But I’ve got blinders on and from my view point, I can’t see how easy it would be if I just let go.
I do this with my writing, too. I try to FORCE it. I MUST write every day. I MUST sit and write for an hour, and not a minute less. I MUST meet a certain word count. I MUST power through. I MUST maintain this structure, otherwise I’ll slack off and I’ll hate myself and I’ll never make progress.
This doesn’t affect only me, either. It affects my husband, my clients, my team. It’s not pleasant when I get worked up in a frenzy, angry and frustrated, because the situation doesn’t meet my exact specifications, and, well that’s no fun for anyone, now is it?
Learning how to relax, rest, and go with the flow is something I’ve been working on for a while now and I gotta say, I think it’s really helped me get through this year, with so many cancellations, readjustments, and—shit—my husband’s cancer, I can’t imagine how much harder surviving 2020 would have been. And, let’s be honest, I would be the one making it harder.
Cultivating this approach is also a big part of what I work on with my clients in Nonfiction Bootcamp, my coaching and editing program. If you’re like me, (and I can safely say that a lot of writers are) we have these unrealistic notions that if we power through our work, stay up late and write even when we don’t have the energy, that things will somehow magically come together for us—we are working so damn hard after all, haven’t we earned it??
I hear ya.
It’s so easy to fall into that trap, and I get it. We expect a certain return for our effort (and by “we” I mean “I.”). I’m big on efficiency, and I don’t want to waste my energy. I’m also big on fairness, and sometimes it’s just downright unfair that I haven’t reaped the rewards that I think I deserve based on how hard I’ve worked.
But life just doesn’t work that way, does it?
Instead, let’s try to enjoy the ride a little more, yeah? After all, what’s the point of expending so much time and energy for an activity if we think it’s futile? If we think it’s a drag? No, thanks.
Instead, let’s give ourselves permission to rest and expect the work to come with ease and grace. Try it. Take a nap, and THEN see how much you can accomplish. I bet you’ll surprise yourself. And, yes, this is why ritual and wellness and mindset are three of main pillars of my program—because each is an essential component of accomplishing a huge project like a book manuscript. Guarantee you it won’t happen with out it.
If that sounds like a bunch of hooey, I invite you to join me in one of my upcoming free masterclass sessions on finishing your book in 2021. The next one is coming up on Thursday December 17 at 12p Pacific, and you can save your seat right here.
Remember: rest, relax, go with the flow, and see how it changes your process. Things absolutely do not have to be a certain way.