What do you do when you feel called to do something, when something is burning in your heart, and you work like crazy…and then it isn’t working? At least the way you think it should? What do you do when you’re weary and discouraged, and begin to question yourself? What do you do?
Do you press harder? Voice your doubts? Change something? Quit?
Maybe you’ve been asking yourself those questions lately. Or maybe you asked a while ago, and decided to quit. Or give yourself a breather. If so, you’re in good company. Lately I’ve been asking myself those very questions.
You see, my blog picked up momentum in the middle of last year. I launched the Beauty in EVERYday Challenge, and a lot of people joined. We were building a great community of people sharing the beauty they found in their everyday lives together. In big and small ways.
At that point I began to work harder; more hours. I could see the day when I would do this full-time and be able to serve you that much better. I could not only see it, I could taste it too. I felt what it would be like. I couldn’t wait.
Then things began to change. I got a new role at work, with more hours. More travel. Less personal time. And then people began to unsubscribe. And hardly anyone shared or commented. I began wondering if I was having any impact at all. And since that was really the point of the whole thing, I wondered if I should keep going or not. I kept hearing Seth Godin’s voice ringing in my ear, “Would they miss you if you stopped doing what you’re doing?” I honestly didn’t know.
It got to the point where I was spending every spare minute working on my business. I had no life of my own. Or better said, I was postponing my life to work toward my vision. Now I’ve been known to successfully do that for a short time. I took an entire summer accounting course after work every night. Because it only lasted for something like 5-6 weeks. But here it wasn’t just weeks. Weeks turned into months. Saying no to life so I could spend time writing about it.
At some point I realized this wasn’t a short term thing. I saw that I needed to do something about it. And my sister confirmed that when she told me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t want to miss my life again. That I needed to live more.
So I took a break. I found drafts of blog posts that I hadn’t finished and finished them. I took that time to do some soul searching. I considered my options.
- Keep going the same way.
- Take a break and re-use old content while I regroup.
- Change how/what I was doing.
- Quit entirely.
As I thought about how or what to change, I knew that I had to spend less time. See this as the long-term commitment that it is. That it isn’t a marathon. It’s an ultra-marathon. I saw that I needed to get out and live my life and weave this in. Especially since from what I can see right now I’ll be both working and running a business for a while, I needed to build in more breathing room. Stop the pressure and the pace I had established. Make real connections with real people.
I thought about changing the topic too. Maybe write about something else. Something easier to sell. I listed options on a sheet of paper. And reviewed them to see what resonated. It was almost like starting all over again…so many options that it got confusing.
I decided to keep going – for a while. I cut back on the time by shortening my posts and editing less. I decided to just speak from the heart and not worry about sharing, subscribing, or unsubscribing. I decided to live my life and write and speak out of that place. I knew I needed more connection. Groundedness.
So here’s some of what I did:
- I was present with a friend after her husband died.
- Went to an English tea with my family.
- Had dinner with my sister and a friend.
- Spent time with my voice teacher, who has Alzheimer’s.
All things I hadn’t had time for before.
The writing then flowed out of my life. Not necessarily the facts of my life, but the emotions. The thoughts from spending time with precious people. Being out in the world renewed my commitment to my message. I was reminded that life is short, and we need to make the most of each precious moment. I was also reminded that we spend far too much time living up to others’ expectations, when we should be who we are.
Why am I telling you this? I wasn’t going to, but a friend encouraged me to do so. Because, it’s important for you to know that everyone has a crisis of faith every once in a while. We all doubt ourselves, our calling, everything. Even our greatest heroes have had doubts. The difference is that they kept going anyway.
I want to keep going anyway, and encourage you to do the same. Even in the face of doubts and setbacks. Since it’s a long-term commitment, commit to taking care of yourself too. And living your life as you go. Don’t stop and don’t let it stop you.
It helps to have the tools to make needed course corrections. It helps to assess the “state of the union” every once in a while. It also helps to have truth-tellers in your life. My sister Ann loved me enough to be honest in a way that showed how much she cares. Having someone like that in your life can make all the difference. You also should have a trajectory in mind, a compass, as my friend Sunil puts it. A why. Your approach, tactics, and even the “what” can and often does change. It takes almost constant course correction to stay on the same flight path.
What do you do when it isn’t working? Stop. Breathe. Assess the situation. Evaluate your options. Recommit to your why. Course correct as needed. As many times as you have to.
I don’t know what my results will be. I don’t know what yours will be either. But I do know that my life is richer for having tried. I know my commitment to you matters. I know my message matters. I know what you do matters too. You can change your piece of the world. But you have to keep moving.
How have you been feeling? On top of the world with everything working? Or uncertain outcomes with a side-order of discouragement? If you’re running on all cylinders, encourage us with your story. If you’ve been questioning your calling like I did, share your “why”. Let the creative brain power and prayers encourage you as you take your next step. And please share this post with someone you love.