Photo by Sean McGrath
“Forget yesterday – it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow – you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift – today.” – Steve Maraboli, (Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
In the past year, I’ve written a book, been approached and signed on with a publisher, successfully funded an Indiegogo campaign, collaborated with many influential people, and yet I still feel like I have nothing to show for my efforts.
I’m still working a full time job, barely making ends meet for my family, and putting in hours of work every day into my blog, and making zero profit.
The hours I’ve been putting into my creative work have taken away the quality time I spend with my wife and daughter. Let alone the fact that my relationships with my parents and siblings has suffered. I’ve put them on the back burner in hopes of pushing through the barriers towards my dreams of making a living from doing what I love.
Am I Just Stalling?
It would seem I’m on the brink of something life changing, yet I can’t help but feel stuck. Have I become used to the way I’m living my life that I’m subconsciously avoiding taking the next step? I think so.
Although I spend hours online, I don’t feel like I’m getting very far for my efforts or lack thereof. I find I’m working at the speed of a snail while my mind is drawn to things requiring less thought.
My brain was becoming stagnant and the desire to move forward was in limbo. How could I ever get to where I want to be if I’m just sitting around hoping things will change? It’s like a spell had been cast upon me to stall any movement towards progress in an already slow moving journey.
Then I Remembered Something
I remembered that this wasn’t the first time I’d felt this way. I had been in a mind stalling funk in the past. I remembered the last time I felt this way was when I quit my first blog. I also remembered that not a month after I quit that blog, I began regretting it and the desire to get back to work started to build.
I realized what I needed to do to move forward – I just needed to rest my mind. I needed to take a break from trying to figure things out. I was trying so hard to move forward that I was going nowhere. So, I decided to take a week off to completely unplug and think about nothing that had to do with my creative work.
I let all of my emotions out to my wife and did my best to explain the way I was feeling to her. I told her I felt extremely bad for not being as emotionally and mindfully involved much of the time. She understands and completely supports my dreams, yet does feel neglected from time to time, which tears me up inside. I told her I’d do better and find a way to make it all work.
I had a heart felt conversation with my Mom, explaining to her that my absence from her life was not of her own fault, but of my own. I’m not very good at these types of talks, but assured her I was getting back in touch with what mattered. I explained to her that while trying to put positive vibes into the world through my blog, I was creating negative results in my inner circle.
I began to pull back from the online world I was so enthralled in creating prevalence in and gave my full attention to my physical environment. I started paying attention to the small things and began making more time for my family. I needed to find a way to make an adjustment to not only spend the quality time with my family, but work towards my creative vision as well.
Overwhelmed, Underpaid, & Ready to Give Up
There was a moment that I almost decided to give up on what I had spent the previous two years building. I honestly didn’t know if what I was doing was ever going to give me the freedom I wanted when I began creating it. I just didn’t know if the brand I was trying to build, the people I was attempting to reach, and the meaning behind why I was doing it was ever going to be more than just a time consuming hobby with little interest.
I was overwhelmed with the minimal results for the time spent creating. I was extremely underpaid for the amount of work I was putting in. Most of all, I was questioning if Unplugged Recreated was a lost cause. I took that week to really buckle down and do some soul searching and decide if I believed enough in my creation to continue to move it forward. All the while, trying to rekindle my personal relationships.
Finding Balance and Clarity
After much deliberation, I chose to continue on with my blog. I still felt the passion towards the difference I believed I could make through it. When I opened my computer the following week, I promised myself that no matter what, the first thing I would do was complete a task meant to progress my path to financial freedom. I decided I would start figuring out how to turn my passion into an actual business. I made a commitment to stop being lazy and start being more productive with my time online.
I wanted to find a balance between working on my dreams and also working on building my relationships with the people I love. I began taking 15 minutes or so every night to write down the tasks I would work on the following day. I started making myself accountable to finish those tasks before I could move on to randomly perusing other interests.
Besides making a plan to find balance, I wanted to be clear about the path I was taking to move closer to fulfilling my dreams of working full time through my online work. I made a plan of action that focused specifically on tasks with results I could measure. I just wanted to bring clarity to the chaos of not knowing the next step I would take. One of the biggest mistakes I had been making was not making a specific plan that led to the end result I was chasing. So that’s what I did.
I created a journal and mapped out the tasks needed to reach the results to move me one step closer to my goals. I broke those tasks down into daily achievable milestones and started forcing myself to sit down and just do the work every day to reach them.
After that, I created some various worksheets to help with bring additional clarity to my journey. It started as a simple way to physically map out my path and ended up becoming a tool that I use on a weekly basis. I created a worksheet to help with inspiration and reflection, one for obstacles that stood in my way, one for small goals to overcome those obstacles, and a weekly goal worksheet for accountability. I’ve even turned these worksheets into a toolkit, added in an inspirational manifesto, named it the Dream Design Toolkit, and am currently giving it all away for free.
This toolkit has helped me triple my productivity, amp up my motivation, hold me accountable, and inspire me to move forward as well.
Plan for balance…check! Plan for clarity…check! Ready for action…double check!!
The first two years working towards my dreams were done without having a clear set of goals and actions, other than just getting online and making things happen. I always told myself I didn’t need a specific plan to be able to accomplish the things I wanted.
As it turns out, I was lying to myself. Although I did make some things happen, I also wasted hundreds of hours doing nothing more than thinking about what to do next. After taking the time to step back and look at things from a clearer perspective, I learned that I wasn’t going to progress at a rate suitable for what my intentions were without making a plan.
I finally caved and developed the plan and have been acting on it. I feel like I’m not only making progress, but have now had more time for my family, and have gotten more accomplished in less time. I’m hopeful that my new method will bring sustainable progress in my search for the ever growing dream of doing what I love for a living while helping others aim for the same. I’m also confident in my ability to now focus on the things that matter most each day instead of only looking towards the future.
What about you? Do you have a plan to move forward towards the changes you seek in your life? I’d love to hear them!