I had lunch with a friend the other day. “OMG/Boy I’m frustrated!” they said. “So what’s going on?” I ask. “I have a new project manager who doesn’t know what’s she’s doing.” “Tell me more,” I continue. Well she’s only been here a few months. She’s young, and more stereotypical descriptors flow into our discussion. At this point, I know my friend is facing a challenge and in the throes of learning. Frustration is the obvious symptom, and stereotyping is a sign they may feel cornered and defensive. And most of us want to elevate our symptoms fast, so we focus on what seems obvious to us.
There’s another way to make it feel better and actually enhance the experience. If we looked at our challenge as just that- a new encounter, we might be able to accept the differences and change that which is frustrating us. Saying some altered things to engage the situation, might sound something like this: “I have a new manager in charge of my project starting tomorrow. I really don’t know much about her, and I’d like to know what experiences she’s had that can make our project better. I’d also like to learn about her ideas and see how we can combine our thinking to make our project a great experience for the team.”
Here are some of the key differences when we look at a challenge as less of a threat and more of a learning exchange. In the example statements above we never give up our own important placement in the project. By reframing our thoughts and words, we continue to see ourselves as part of the team and take ownership of our role. We also embrace the new person as someone to learn about, rather than quickly assess and negatively judge. Reframing allows us to use our creative insights to discern what we need to know. We can stay focused on the project, not our feelings. Last, we anticipate a great experience as the successful outcome we expect.
All of these adjustments will bring up frustration and most likely won’t come easy for us, because learning something new is a change, and change is scary and hard. However, when we read our frustration simply as a symptom of a new learning that is taking place, we can simply reframe our thinking to more easily make the personal adjustments necessary to reach a positive outcome.
I’d love to hear how you’ve reframed your challenges to turn them into success!
Ever get some advice that knocks you into a much needed reality change? I’m pretty sure you know the kind I mean. It comes in simple words, a sentence fragment, maybe just a sentiment. It packs a real punch because it comes at just the best time for you to feel it’s meaning, and recognize this is the purposed idea you most need now.
I got such a gift the other day, and it’s been a game changer for me. For over a year now, I’ve been under the weather with health issues. I’ve had a couple of surgeries to fix “things” that have been getting worse over time. I’m feeling guilty sharing this because I’m so blessed that none of it has been a serious health crisis. Except that now, the chronic nature of my healing has become a crisis. I’m not someone who likes to be lacking in energy or told to take it easy over and over and yes now, over again.
It’s hard to plan to creative projects when you doubt you can execute them. I feel like I’m just going to make more messes every time I try to start something, and this eats up my creative energy. I’ve always had the ability to come up with more ideas than I will ever be able to create, and sitting around resting to heal lets these dogged thoughts go crazy. It uses up my energy to manage them, too.
It really doesn’t matter what your energy buster might be. You could have limited energy, time, money or supplies from any number of situations. And your mental state could suffer just like mine has. So when magic words are spoken to you that help you put things back into a gentler perspective, they can be the balm that really works.
A really kind and wise mentor, Eric Maisel told me to “pester myself less.” And his words have stuck for me so much I’m making myself a necklace with this phrase to remind me to do just that!
Answer: You fill in the blank: My nest will be filled with “______.”
I was very excited to see my kids grow their wings and learn to fly. Then they flew away. It was always my plan that they would, but the day became my someday; and I wasn’t fully prepared for it. If you watch birds raise their fledglings, after the babies fly away, the adult birds fly off, too. I must have missed the importance of understanding this detail. I get to fly to new places, too? Yeah, I know we all make those someday plans, but whoever talks about identifying how or when that someday will arrive. Without knowing this, how will you know when it’s here and be able to plan for it? This is where I got stuck creatively. Whether it’s when the kids are gone, or the mortgage is paid off or you finally get that studio, it’s the same issue. Will you be ready? What will come next? What are the steps you’ll take?
Devilish details! It’s really hard to start again because it’s scary. Parts are exciting and others are emotionally baffling. It’s taken me awhile to discover that I don’t need to dwell in the feelings of loss and emptiness, leaving me unprepared for my next nesting. Instead I realized I get to recreate something new and exciting, because I’ve identified and claimed that this is my someday. They’re not all bad. Life has a way of taking us on juicy detours; but they help us know what flavors we truly like. All my experience from mistakes and hopeful attempts, as well as my wins have helped me to recognize that empty nests are a gift from my somedays. It’s the same thing for any project you worked hard on. It doesn’t matter if it met your standard of success or not. Because you made the choice to do it, you name when it’s done and then you can choose what comes next again.
Here’s the really cool part: You can feather your new nest any way you want!
You can use the good china or throw it out and get something different. You can turn empty bedrooms into guest rooms or alternate studios. Give up quilting in exchange for making jewelry. When you’ve finished that manuscript you can learn to paint. You can do whatever you desire, because your someday has arrived.
If you woke up tomorrow and were living your someday dreams, what would you be doing?
Tell me about the feathers that will remake your empty nests today.
Lately I’ve found myself needing an unending supply of motivation. Not the kind that gets you up and on with the day precisely, but the type that gets you through a project from beginning to end – and feeling overjoyed at all your accomplishments. Often us creative types can be at a loss for the satisfaction about what we’re capable of creating. Perfectionism is commonly blamed, but I’m discovering the real culprit is lost motivating energy. For me it feels like my car is stuck in between gears and I stall out.
What kind of creative mechanics could fix this? I’ve been stumbling around for long while trying to find it. And I think I finally have some words that fit, so I can begin to articulate my issues to myself and others; and hopefully get some useful feedback that will reinvent my motivation.
Here’s my plight: I’ve been endlessly clearing and organizing my home and studio. It’s more or less been going on for over a year and a half. Any sane person might ask,” What kind of mess do you live and work in?” Well not that much actually. It’s the emotional part that’s a mountain; and all the stuff that complicates those feelings. Today a wise advisor reminded me not to go into feeling grief and loss, but work at just staying in clearing the workspace and organizing it enough to work in. Well. duh! Simple switch up of words! That little change in how I’m thinking about this project opens up a whole new look at my progress, (which has been phenomenal) and what I need to do next (which is pretty simple).
As an empty nester, I now have all this space in my house which has accumulated the stuff of thirty years from an actively creative family and several businesses’. I let myself believe I was starting anew like moving out rather than moving on. I still live and work here and need my tools and supplies to create. What’s really changed is that I can finally spread out all over my home if I want to. Emotionally I never felt that was an option before. That feels freeing and more than a bit scary mostly because I’ve always had a cramped space to work in. That means there’s never been enough storage so things always looked a bit unkempt. My fear is that my living space will end up that way though it doesn’t have too. That’ll be my choice. My workspace just has to function well enough for my work flow, and the stored items can be moved all over my place as I please.
With these switched up words I feel like I can begin to keep up the energy I need to get back into the swing of what I really want to do and have the motivation to stay consistent with my efforts. The practice of not overwhelming myself, will need to be a chronic effort because, I’ll need to remind myself often that managing my workspace is about the flow of my work. It is not about the pack it up and check it off task mastering that can leave me feeling spent, joyless and unendingly emotionally worked to death. Well, right now, this all sounds to me good anyway – going to move a few boxes into a new location. Keep you posted on the rest of my progress.