Only seven days into my 100 day challenge I was already feeling discouraged. I have found this to be my usual pattern when undertaking a new challenge or trying to develop healthier habits:
- Decide to do something.
- Tell myself this time it will be different.
- Over estimate how many hours I have to spare to complete the new tasks I’ve set for myself.
- I don’t drop anything I’m already doing to make more time. Instead, I propel myself forward like a tank driving through a narrow canyon, believing I can bulldoze through rock and widen the passage.
- A week or so goes by without seeing enough positive results, which easily translates into “failure.”
- I decide all of this effort is useless. I obviously don’t have the discipline, drive, or talent to pull this off.
- I grieve over my failure and loss.
- Then I move on to the next brilliant blob of inspiration.
Feeling myself hitting number six and seven, I did what every struggling creative does, I voiced how discouraged I was feeling to the great beyond. I explained that I was afraid of falling into despair and giving up after only one week. Then I pulled a Tarot card to see what the response was.
I drew the Ten of Wands, whose theme is excess and burdens. How fitting… The card addresses the problems that arise when you are not able to resist an opportunity or challenge. You may believe everything depends on you. You cannot ask for help. Your enthusiasm has led you to take on too many projects. You should simplify your life by doing one the following:
- Complete one of the projects before picking up another.
- Decide not to do one of the projects at all.
- Eliminate something else that is taking up too much time and energy (making dinner, grocery shopping, etc.) by asking someone else to temporarily pick up that task for you.
The description of the Ten of Wands’ meaning didn’t actually provide that much advice, but that’s what I like about the cards — they “hint” at something, which puts me in touch with answers that already existed within me but that I have trouble (or resist) bringing to the surface.
So what I’m doing is 1.) Allowing more time to see results. 2.) Lowering my expectations that I can do everything I want to do all at once. 3.) Change my plan to write daily into something more realistic.
My work week is so full that I haven’t found the time to write Monday to Friday. It’s also better for me not to come home from work, sit in a chair, and start working on a computer when that’s what I’ve been doing all day. Instead, I will:
- Write on weekends in blocks of time where I’m not sitting for too long.
- Take a couple of days off each month to have additional writing days.
- Take an extra couple days of vacation every quarter to get away on a writing retreat. I did one in March and am due for another one during June.
- On the days I’m not writing, count my reading time as a writerly education. Reading other writers’ work is important.
Then there’s this: I’ve decided to rebrand my “100 Day Time Treasure Hunt Challenge.”
It simply does not roll off the tongue and it’s filled with angst. People fight and murder each other during treasures hunts. Most importantly, I said that “you do not find time; you make time,” so what am I hunting for?
I decided to call my effort “100 Days for Spaciousness.”
I think of the word “spaciousness” whenever I feel overwhelmed, afraid or rushed. I picture a meadow of wild flowers and long grass bowing to the breeze or the empty expanse of water called Lake Superior, and I feel the pressure drop from my chest.
Spaciousness represents the overall feeling I want to have in my daily life. I’m simplifying my life bit-by-bit, clearing out both physical and mental space.
Thinking of spaciousness doesn’t help me get more done, but it does draw me to what’s important – the moment I’m living right now.
What I’m Currently Reading
“The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity” by Louise DeSalvo
This is so fitting for me right now. An example of the guiding principles Louise DeSalvo presents:
- Establish a simple routine.
- Be realistic. (It’s better to commit to one hour we can manage than three hours we can’t.)
- Touch the work [in some way] every day
- Give yourself the gift of uninterrupted time. (It takes about twenty minutes to get back into flow after each interruption.)
Simple but good advice indeed…