In Sydney a couple of weeks ago, we went up to the headland to watch the paragliders. Awesome. The thing that amazes me is how they take off. They let the wind fill their parachute, then literally step off the headland into the air. Terrifying yet exhilarating.
That’s just watching them. I can’t imagine how it feels to actually do it, to step off into nothing and have that trust and confidence that the air will hold you up.
Trust has been an issue for me this week. I’m quitting the Day Job in just nine weeks. In one way the idea is exhilarating. finally time for myself, time to write, time to sew, time to develop some ideas I’ve had for a while about home based ways of creating income. Terrifying, because we won’t have any household income unless I can get books published and sold, get those ideas up and running.
That fear made me start trying to push myself. Despite being jetlagged, and the added exhaustion from long busy days at the Day Job, I lectured myself about the need to do more. I have all these goals, and I needed do more more more if I was to achieve them. I was lazy, I needed to work harder or I’d fail, I told myself.
Problem is, that sort of fear based badgering never works. Not for me, and I doubt it does for anybody.
All it did was add to my stress and anxiety, made me less able to do anything productive, and took the joy out of anticipating Freedom Day, the day I set myself free to work at what I want to work at, not what my bosses throw at me.
When that day comes of course, I’ll end up working far harder than I ever did at the regular job. I was self-employed once before, for two lovely years after the seventh miscarriage, when I just couldn’t face looking after other people any more and sold books on the internet instead. I worked far longer hours, probably sixty hours most weeks, making less than the minimum wage, but I didn’t care. I did it more joyfully, because I was choosing what I did, and I loved the work. Laziness isn’t my problem.
On Wednesday I realised I needed a different approach, and something wonderful happened.
Instead of constantly telling myself I needed to do more, instead of making lists of what I should be doing, I took time in my Morning Pages to list what I did towards my goals the day before. Despite the crappy stress of the hamster wheel Day Job, despite the long commute, despite the exhaustion and the head cold, what baby steps had I made that day? I didn’t have to do anything, but what I did do would be recognised and acknowledged and celebrated.
Amazingly, not only did I find I’d done more than I thought, that simple act of appreciation of my tiny achievements somehow freed me to do even more over the past few days. The fear of failing lifted, and in its place came a sense of lightness, fun and a burst of creative thinking. I felt better, and I was doing better.
I wrote snippets of story on the commute, far better than what I’d written before. I had breakthroughs with plot and character niggles, things I knew weren’t right in the first draft. I had completely new ideas for the clothing business I plan to start, and began thinking bigger too. The fear I wasn’t doing enough shrank my world, felt heavy and oppressive, but my little bullet point lists of what I achieved the day before moved me into expansiveness and a huge sense of possibility.
Appreciation of myself, not nagging myself.
I think I now understand more of how the idea of goallessness works. It’s not that there’s really no goals at all, it’s that the goals are approached in a different way. There’s a kind of zen in it. Things get done effortlessly, without pushing.
I hope I can keep going like this. It’s very freeing and light. My muse likes it. She does NOT respond well to being nagged and badgered and told what she “should” be doing. She does respond to freedom, to bein g told she doesn’t need to do anything, but being recognised and rewarded when she does.
The easy simple act of writing down what I’ve done the day before, rather than setting goals and to-do lists for the day ahead like I usually do, seems to have created a huge shift.
It’s working for me. It might work for you too I’d be very interested to hear what happens if you try it!