Well that’s a loaded question! It’s been nearly a month since I started this journey and sometimes I feel like my whole world has expanded, and other times I feel like I haven’t budged an inch!
What I’m finding is that my feelings about progress are directly related to the amount of work I do to ensure I make some: whether it’s networking, blogging, planning, reading a helpful book or learning more about a topic. The only reason that’s relevant is that there are days when I just don’t feel like it — any of it. That sounds lazy, I know. But I know I’m not lazy. I think I’m just tired. It’s been a long haul, and I’m tired. So I’m trying not to let it get me down, and I’m letting my body dictate how much I get done.
Some days I spend the whole day in the garden. Others, I spend a couple of hours walking up and down the staircases on Queen Anne. I think sometimes that being physically tired helps. What I do know is that one of the principles of pivoting that is (to my mind anyway) incredibly true is that one must structure their day, otherwise, each one runs into the next rather like a bad vacation. Or worse — a wasted vacation!
My husband says things like “you’ll do what you’re going to do when you’re ready to do it.” Sometimes it feels supportive. Other times it feels like his passive-aggressive way of saying “get off your ass and get a job.” I’m trying really hard to believe that’s my Catholic guilt giving me trouble, but the truth is, sometimes I just can’t tell. And I DO feel guilty. Guilty for not having a job, guilty for not having to shower and leave the house first (which is how he prefers our mornings to go), and guilty for putting the bulk of responsibility for supporting our family on him. Never having had the luxury of doing it before, it’s new and uncomfortable. And let’s face it, we all have baggage. My husband had two wives before me. He supported BOTH of them. That puts me at a distinct disadvantage, because his association with wives who don’t work is remarkably negative, but I know he’s trying. So I’m trying, too.
Of course, it doesn’t help that there have been a number of national disasters of late that weigh heavily on our minds, including the mass shooting in Orlando. Sometimes it’s really easy to sit in front of CNN and just let the world unfold before you. But in the same way that we can’t stop living our lives out of fear of terrorism, I can’t stop living my life out of fear of failure. And really, I think this is what it really all comes down to.
Funny thing is, I’m not really afraid of failing. At least that’s what I always thought. I think in reality I’m probably terrified of failing. I was raised “not to disappoint.” That’s basically failing. I will always hate that look in my dad’s eye when I’ve done something that brings me up short in his eyes. That’s failure, and I want no part of it.
The hardest lesson I ever learned was the one that I took with me from my first marriage: Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love someone. Relationships are two-way streets, and you can’t make someone else love you – no matter how much you’re willing to do to try. I was raised to believe that if I worked hard enough and was willing to sacrifice and earn it, that I could be successful at anything. That was a lie. I could not be a success in my first marriage – no matter how much of myself I was willing to carve away. Sometimes we learn those lessons about work, too. There are places where no amount of work or willingness will make up for the fact that you have zero to NO statistical chance of succeeding.
Do either of those things really amount to failure? Probably not. But it sure feels like it. The problem I’m having with it is I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I also think I haven’t really experienced the positive attributes that can come from these acts either. I didn’t feel the joy and freedom with my first marriage’s divorce; I felt like a single mother trying to ensure her kids didn’t pay the price FOR HER FAILURE! And whatever the reason for job changes, I have never spent any real time thinking about what I want and what I don’t want, in an effort to find that thing that will make me feel valued, excited, passionate, devoted and part of a team. And guess what? I don’t think I’m very good at it.
So it’s time to double down and go back to the original thinking that I know makes people successful: I will work hard and do what I need to do to determine the nature of — and successfully begin — this next wonderful opportunity. And I will take each failure as an opportunity to learn something that will help me be more successful … eventually.
I will need help. I am lucky to have a wonderful mentor (first time EVER!) and a supportive husband. I also have wonderful friends and a good network of professional support. I do know that, for me, one of the most important things I can do is maintain a daily structure, so I’m going to sketch it out here, and I’ll update with how it’s working out for me.
Mondays – I will start the week off by enumerating the things that are exciting about a new start, and learning something – whether it’s working through an online course, or reading about a topic that’s relevant to what I want to do.
Tuesdays – I will work on my PLAN. Whether that means updating my idea board, or fine tuning ideas for the next great iteration, I will spend time building a roadmap to my future.
Wednesdays – I will write. I will always write on Wednesdays.
Thursdays – I will network, and by that I mean I will attend meet-ups, get together with mentors and peers in business and community organizations, and I will actively ask for help in finding the right opportunities.
Fridays – I will end the week by chronicling my activities for the week so that I have a visual transcript of my progress — however much or little it is. I’ll add that post to this bog every Friday (hopefully, there will be enough Seattle stuff happening in it to keep you interested).
I would love to hear from others making this journey – I know there are many of us. Sadly, I think lots of us make it alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Please share your experiences in the comments, and let’s connect.