Lot’s of cool stuff has been happening at my company lately. I have fired up a new website. I have submitted my first journal for publication.
I am finalizing projects that I have started over a period of years. That journal I just submitted? I started it in 2007. 2007! Talk about a sense of completion in submitting that for print.
The next three publication projects I have all been years in the making too. Not weeks or months. Literally years.
Projects I started to think would never actually get finished. Work that I thought was important and inspiring when the original idea struck me, but work that got pushed to the side for the sake of all the other stuff that comes up in the course of a life. Parenting, career, weekends spent in the yard, and just plain old downtime.
I had a choice to make. I could let these projects go. I could decide not to finish them and start on something else.
But would that something else be just another idea that I started and didn’t finish?
Instead I decided to focus on completion. I chose the publication project that I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for the longest amount of time and I decided to finish it.
It would be wonderful to say that this was easy. I wish I could say that each moment was full of inspired action, that I was clear, and certain, and full of energy and assurance each moment, every mouse click, and for all the decisions left to make.
That is now how it was at all.
My determined work started in October. It took me all of about ten minutes to realize that I had no idea how to use the software that I needed to design the journal.
And when that happened, I walked away. I knew that I needed to get books, tutorials, or maybe even a course to help me learn how to get to the next step. So I stopped. It was too hard, too annoying that I didn’t already get it. Why didn’t I come out of the womb knowing all of this?
Days, weeks, passed and I didn’t touch this project. I wrote it in my day planner and moved it to the next page, over and over.
Things would have stayed that way until one day I sat down to read with Ayla. We were cuddled up with our copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends and I read a poem. Then it was her turn. She read two lines, stopped and said, “I don’t sound as good as you Mommy. I don’t want to read it.”
That struck me like a slap in the face. What I heard was “If I can’t be what I think is perfect, than I don’t want to try.”
The idea that you have to be the winner, the top performer, the amazing racer right out of the gate is irrational. As human beings, we know this. We were not born walking or talking. Or knowing how to use InDesign.
If I expected my daughter to be a lifelong learner, a lover of the process, and into the joy of the journey, I better look in the mirror.
And so, thanks to Ayla, I bought the books, signed up for the course, and started studying. Plugging away, making decisions, and getting to the end of the line.
My published work will likely not be perfect. But I’m not holding my breath. I have been reminded, by my six-year old, to never stop learning. I will very likely need to be reminded of this again, but for now, the lesson has anchored and movement has continued to be forward instead of in circles.
This can be applied to so many areas of life. Avoiding the gym because we aren’t in shape. Cringing away from an awesome career move because we don’t want to start over in a new company. Staying in relationships that no longer serve us because staying is easier, and sometimes more socially acceptable, than leaving.
And on and on.
What if it’s possible to do the things we really want to do, but do them poorly?
What if it’s possible that making mistakes and going through growing pains is where we can find joy and satisfaction in the human experience?
What if we start and finish a cool project just for the sake of the project, and not because we are concerned with it being wrong or right?
And what if it’s possible that we explore, discover, create, and share because that’s what it’s all about?
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit saramarchessault.com.