Greetings from Palm Springs! It’s lovely here if a bit hot; today’s high is 103. While I’ve been here, I’ve been working with individual coaching clients as I usually do, and using the rest of my work time to focus on creating a home study course, write a few articles, and get my ideas out of my head and onto (virtual) paper.
While this has been great, it’s also caused some angst. Not the client part – the rest of the work things.
This is what’s been happening. I’ve been working on my home study course for a while, and was finally starting to feel like I was getting somewhere. Then yesterday I looked at how much I’d actually completed, which is a lot, and how much there still was to do, which is a LOT, and I got discouraged. I mean, seriously bummed out. It seemed like the distance I had to go was so far, there was no way I was ever going to get there. Then as my brain often does, it started to pile on all the other things I was working on, and how far I had to go with them, too. And then, I took a hike to watch the sunrise in the mountain foothills the next day, and it got hot and things got hard, and I gathered more evidence about how far I was from the finish line. ON EVERYTHING.
If this has ever happened to you, which I’m feeling confident it has because it seems to be part of the human condition, I wrote an article below to explore this a bit more. Today, with the benefit of a fresh perspective, I’m keeping my eyes only on what’s right in front of me, and sticking with the plan I laid out before my monkey mind hijacked my brain.
Maybe this sounds familiar… You’re excited about an idea you have! And things are moving along as you start to bring your idea to life!
And then you work on it a bit, and at some point it hits you that despite what progress you’ve made, you still have soooooo far to gooooo… In that moment, it’s easy to go from feeling good about the progress you’ve made, to feeling like you’ve barely made a dent.
The truth is, these journeys often take longer than you think they will, especially if your idea is a big one. Bringing something new to life takes courage, determination, vision, and a whole lot of stick-to-it-tive-ness. It takes the amount of time that it takes, and there’s not much you can do about that.
Recently I was hiking in a beautiful desert park. When I set out, I didn’t think too much about how long the hike would take, and despite the fact that I’d started early in the morning, the temperature was on the rise and it was getting warm fast. The trail weaved through the foothills of a mountain, so it was impossible to see how far I’d come, or how far I still had to go.
More than a few times, I stopped to look around and see if I could tell where I was, yet there was no way to gauge my progress. I was hot, in unfamiliar terrain, and unsure of how much further I had to go to complete the hike. I had a map with me, and there were other people periodically hiking by me, so I wasn’t going to die or get lost, yet my monkey mind was working itself into a tizzy about the heat, distance, lack of perspective, and asking if we’d ever be done.
It doesn’t matter what your idea is, or how well you’ve laid out your road map, there’s always a place, often more than one, where you stop and realize you’ve still got a ways to go, and you may not have the big perspective you’d like about where you are now, or how long it’ll take to get to there.
With the sun getting higher in the sky, I considered turning around, yet I didn’t want to backtrack, and, despite feeling discouraged and hot, I was still interested in seeing the scenery on the rest of the hike. I had a talk with myself, and decided to look around only to enjoy the view (rather than trying to gauge my progress), and to otherwise focus my attention on putting one foot in front of the other and trusting that, eventually, I’d make it to the end of the trail. Even up until the very last moments, I couldn’t see the endpoint; when I finally reached the trailhead I was tired, thirsty, and hot, yet I felt triumphant! I’d conquered the trail! I’d made it!!
The next time you find yourself birthing an idea, and you don’t have any perspective on where you’re at, and you can’t see the end, and you’re feeling discouraged because it seems like you still have a looooong way to go no matter how much work you’ve already done, consider that the only way out is through. For self-employed folks like us, quitting isn’t really an option, despite fleeting moments of feeling lost, or down. Bringing ideas to life is a process, and it can be an enjoyable one, too, if you can relax into it. Stay with your idea. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Trust that you have what it takes to see things through. And know that you’ll reach the end, even if you can’t see it right now.
Let’s keep this discussion going ~ add your comments below, or join me over on Twitter @kristinecarey for a real-time conversation on what it looks like to make progress.