Remove more to produce more — Greg McKeown, Essentialism
As a multi-passionate person, it’s easy to go in a thousand different directions at any given time which makes it very difficult to get any traction. I’ve often felt pulled to do lots of things but never seem to get anywhere. At least at the speed in which I’d like. This is where a lot of my frustration comes from actually. I want to do “all the things” but I’m having a major problem with understanding that’s really damn hard to do.
When my kids were little and I was able to stay home to care for them, I had zero point zero hobbies outside of my house. Cooking, cleaning, showering, eating and drinking and going to the restroom by myself were all I had during my early motherhood days. There was a moment that I vividly remember when after my second child was born. My husband was out enjoying one of his multitude of hobbies, (men’s league of some sort, fishing, hanging with his friends, etc) and I started crying in my bed, probably right after breastfeeding for the umpteenth time that day. I remember thinking “This is all I have. These children are all I do. I have nothing else.” Just writing this makes me feel horrible about thinking that because I am so grateful for that time with my children but I craved more. I had nothing I felt passionate about outside o fmy family. I felt pathetic.
That cry in my bed was a wake-up call As much as I loved caring for my kids at that time in my life, it was suffocating that wasn’t all that my life was about. That led me back to reading books again. I LOVED to read as a kid/teen but that dramatically dwindled when I went to college then got my first “real” job. Instead, my extracurricular activities revolved around social settings and let’s just say I was mostly reading drink menus at that time. Enter the little ones and the only reading I did were books 10 pages or less.
Finally, I decided to pick up reading again and it was probably for all the wrong reasons, I needed an escape and it was easy. Get myself a library card, put a book on hold, go to the drive through window to pick it up. No one had to get out of the car, be wrestled into the stroller, or whisked off to the bathroom for a disaster pants emergency.
I had no idea where to start so I started with Oprah’s book club list. I found it on my library’s website and decided I would just make my way down the list. Holy shit. This was NOT the best place to start for a woman with two little ones at home. To me, Oprah’s book picks were dark, disturbing, and depressing reads; books like House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Let’s just say I didn’t get very far on that list. I ended up in wandering around the historical fiction genre then basically never left. I loved it because it was an escape from my everyday life and I often learned something new about a historical person and/or event.
This renewed hobby of reading became an itch to write. After I had my third and last child, I found I had characters beginning to swirl in my head. Then I found out about a historical movement involving the orphan trains that blew my mind and became what I wanted my characters to be connected with. I had no idea what I was doing so I read as much as I could about how to write. FYI, that’s been about 10 years ago and the novel is still in my computer waiting for me to finish. Or perhaps not. Who knows what will happen with it but I believe it served its purpose…it opened something inside of me.
I learned that I loved the feeling of writing, the wonder at what was going to flow out of my pencil or fingers. I ended up starting my blog because every writer is “supposed” to have a platform. My consistent blogging and writing in my novel was the painful process–my early posts were horrendous, no really, do NOT go back and read. Just take my word for it. I had to go through that to truly learn how to write. And I met some amazing people along the way which I believe were for a reason.
As my youngest started to approach his first year of school, I wanted to get paid to write so I could continue my stay home status. The thought of slinking back into the corporate world gave me the heebie jeebies…still does. So I took an online freelance writing course and submitted my first article to a local magazine. I ended up writing for four publications, three local and a franchise located on the east coast. It became quite a load, along with the blogging, and a freelance position I ended up taking with a boutique public relations firm.
A day came when I didn’t like to write anymore. I had crazy deadlines, extremely different editor personalities, and not very exciting subject matter. I either had to write feature stories on people/businesses because they were advertisers in the magazine or pre-selected subjects that lacked some serious depth. I hadn’t really honed my journalistic chops yet and my articles felt sterile as hell. I gave just the facts; no juicy backstory, no underdogs, and no deeply personal content in site.
At the same time, I had hit my 40’s and began questioning everything. Why am I here? Am I really a writer or am I fooling myself? Am I just destined to be my kids’ mom and I should just be happy for that? I knew that being a mom wasn’t all I was meant to be but I just didn’t know what my life could look like. I questioned if I should continue writing all together. I ended up walking away from the magazine and P.R. freelance work and
Through one of my writer friends, I found an online coaching program which broke open more than I thought possible and I became immersed in the personal development/self-help world. At this same time, I had become more vocal about natural health and getting to the root of health issues with nutrition and homeopathic methods rather than the “traditional” methods used by the majority of the population. I promise, all of this is going somewhere. I started using essential oils and wanted to teach others how awesome they were (still are!). I saw myself as a health coach/essential oils educator/public speaker/entrepreneur with my new found passion.
Good god. All of this ended up turning me in circle after circle, like I was chasing after something all the time. More like chasing my tail. These books I’m reading, Essentialism by Greg McKeown and Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, this past week have really made an impact and helped me make some sense of all these passion projects of mine. All the things I love to do–writing, reading, coaching, educating, inspiring–mixed with the demands of parenthood, have been a bit of a detriment because I’ve been trying to identify with them all and do them all at once. Plus, the shame and guilt of starting and stopping so many things just adds to fuel the fire. Often, I end up feeling worse than before whenever I didn’t see something through.
Essentialism is teaching me how to “discern the vital few from the trivial many.” McKeown wrote something that struck a chord with me, “Nonessentialists get excited by virtually everything and thus react to everything. But because they are so busy pursuing every opportunity and idea, they actually explore less.” Rather than explore all the things, then commit to to going big on only a few, I wanted to do them all and do them all now. I still do.
Perhaps I’ve been a non-essentialist because I had ignored myself for so long that now I’m open to EVERYTHING. I’m like a kid at Disney World; everywhere I look I see something fun and exciting so I run towards it. Then, I turn my head in another direction and there is another cool thing and I take off to see what that’s all about.
But how do I want to feel everyday? If I try to do all those things, for one, I’m going to be really fricking exhausted. Two, I won’t make any progress because I’m spending so much time trying to do it all. I know I want to feel joy, freedom and purpose in my life so how in the hell am I going to accomplish that if I’m walking around in circles. I almost picture my life like that Spirograph toy we had when we were kids. I move in a forward motion then circle back over and over again, not really making any forward progress.
Perhaps the key is that I can actually do “all the things” and feel the way I want to feel but just not trying to do them all at once. My mastermind group, mentors, and Self Journal by Best Self Co. have been a godsend lately. They’ve helped me see how having a well-defined roadmap (i.e. goals) and razor sharp focus can offer me the life I’m seeking a lot faster than how I’ve been trying to tackle it all.
When I get crystal clear about what I want my life to look like on a daily basis, my path becomes quite obvious. I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet but I’m also going to order Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map. It’s something my friend Katie introduced to me in her online workshop but I haven’t been great about implementing. Until now. Joy comes from connection and spending time with my front row, family and taking adventures. Freedom comes from creating my own business with dōTERRA. Purpose comes from using my writing and coaching to inspire others to do better in their lives: mind, body and spirit. These are my essentials…for now. 🙂
When I get essential about my life’s intent, I gain a greater sense of purpose and a clearer vision of my path. But with that essential intent, there are trade-offs and sacrifices and perhaps that is what has been the hardest thing for me to let go of. I have felt that I should do this or I should do that but most of those things don’t give me how I want to feel. Maybe we do things because how others will feel or even deeper, how they will feel about us? We feel obligated to do things because of this person or that organization but where is the obligation to ourselves? Why do we push ourselves to the side or to the back burner so easily?
I know for me I often avoided doing the hard things or I ran away from feeling fear. It’s hard to look vulnerability in the mirror day-in and day-out but it’s a muscle I know I have to train–it’s not just going to all of a sudden happen because I want it to. I have to put in the work to exercise it.
No more spirograph action, no more two steps forward and three steps back. Forward movement focusing on just the essentials.
How about you?
- Are you a multi-passionate person as well?
- Do you feel exhausted or exhilarated every day as you try to fit in “all the things”?
- What are the “essentials’ in your life?
If you answered exhausted, I highly recommend you read these two books and get yourself a Self Journal by BestSelf Co. so you can find the exhilaration again. I have found that by shedding some of my daily “clutter” and “shoulds”, I’m feeling a flow like never before. Crazy how that works when you remove your distractions! 😉
Beware the barrenness of a busy life — Socrates