Updated: Dec 9, 2019
“Everything small is just a small version of something big! I understand everything!”
–Finn the Human, Adventure Time
I love this quote SO MUCH because it always gives me hope when I think about my work.
My current work is just a smaller version of the something bigger I hope to achieve.
At some point in all of our lives, we realize that where we are is a million miles from where we want to be.
We know this because where we are is the polar opposite of what we want, or possibly just different enough that it never stops chafing at us. The pain of unhappiness grows and grows. Worse yet, hopelessness and depression sink in.
There have been several stages of my life where I was sure that all hope was lost. I literally didn’t even want to live anymore. Sometimes I knew what I wanted, but it literally seemed impossible…
But far worse were the times I had no beginnings of a clue as to what I wanted—no purpose in life, no direction to go in—it was a pit of misery and the day came when I hit bottom.
I had no reason to live because I had no purpose, no joy, no one who loved me for me, nothing to look forward to.
But the thing is…if you are alive, YOU DO HAVE A PURPOSE.
I had a purpose, even though I stopped believing I did.
Something in me knew.
And at that point, that something else took over.
Something in us still wants to live. Something in us tells us that we DO have a purpose. It's O.K. if you still don’t know what it was, it was o.k. that I didn’t know because my purpose was revealed after all kinds of exciting (and sometimes painful) things happened.
One guarantee is that our purpose is based on things that we love, some of which we haven’t even discovered yet!
“At the end of the day...Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.”
―Warsan Shire, poet
This actually happens to a lot of people, and if you are having a dark night of the soul in the Pit of Purposelessness, I want to share with you what helped me.
And if you are doing okay, but want more out of life, if you have goals but trouble seeing them through…this is what helped me through those times as well. It’s all about small, manageable steps made over time that will…
1.) EXPAND YOUR WORLD: I came from a sheltered and isolated home. It was hard for me to know what direction to go into—my destiny seemed locked in, my possibilities limited.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Your calling may be something you’ve never yet heard of—the world is rapidly changing! If you can go places, take trips, interview people, do it!
If you can’t (or even if you can, I still recommend this) the only way out is through: through books, through magazines, through newspaper articles, through podcasts, through your own imagination, through radio, through the internet, through Instagram, through YouTube.
Austin Kleon said it most beautifully:
“Your job is to collect ideas. The best way to collect ideas is to read. Read, read, read, read, read. Read the newspaper. Read the weather. Read the signs on the road. Read the faces of strangers. The more you read, the more you can choose to be influenced by.”
See, it’s easy to forget that not every step is as visible as every other—how many times have you missed that last one going down (a.k.a. the first one going up)?
It feels frustrating when you don’t have anything yet to show for what you are doing, all the effort and time you are spending, but a staircase needs something to attach to, and research, “collecting ideas”, is that something, the newel for your risers.
2.) UNDERSTAND THE CYCLE: Similarly, I recently read something about the cycle of creativity (creating the life you want for yourself) that had me hallelujah-ing just for sheer relatability.
I’ve spent so much of my life beating myself up for not getting more done, not being a constant over-achieving creating fiend! If this is you too, remember these words from lifestyle coach Gala Darling:
“Listen up, workaholics and overachievers! Many of us feel a sense of guilt if we’re not constantly creating, making change, demolishing all our demons and forging ahead. But in the same way that we cannot always be happy, we cannot always be creating. Life consists of cycles!"
Gala's cycle looks like this:
"Gather inspiration. I research and feed my imagination. In this phase, I’m reading a lot, listening to podcasts, taking courses, taking notes, going to therapy, [I am also looking at images, clicking links and links and links, talking to people], and investigating all the things that interest me.
Ideas percolate. This stage overlaps with the information-
gathering phase from before, but there’s a definite shift as I move more towards creating new ideas, where I start synthesizing the “collecting” and spend more time simply thought-digesting and thinking. Brainstorm!
Creation! This is my favorite part of the cycle. I write plans, break my ideas down into steps, and spend hours at coffee shops and co-working spaces [I've worked at high school football games just to be immersed in the high energy!], guzzling coffee and making something I’m excited about.
Promotion. This is that time where I start telling people about what I’m making, and it often overlaps with the creation phase. This piece of the puzzle can last a few months, so I can ensure that it reaches the right people.
Rest. By now, I am thrilled, but I am also exhausted. I need to retreat and chill as much as I can. Remember how you take savasana at the end of a yoga class? It’s so you can integrate! The same applies to your everyday life.
…And back to gathering inspiration again.
Take a moment to look at the phases of this cycle, and see where you are right now. [Youby-Doo, Where Are You?]
This cycle is not just about creativity. You can adapt it a little bit and apply it to everything in your life, from relationships to domestic situations to achieving any kind of goal."
3.) JUST DO IT: Sooooooo cliché and I know it, but seriously, once you start to have ideas, once you feel inspired…just START TRYING IT.
Not necessarily with the expectation of getting your idea of perfect results (which is unrealistic and guaranteed to disappoint you out of trying ever again), but with the humble mindset of a student. Because hands-on experience is a teacher for which there is no substitute. Finished is better than perfect. A bird in the hand is worth a flock in the sky.
This is PERFECTLY, COMPLETELY NORMAL.
Before writing this blog and taking Instagram photos, I was SO SCARED it was absolutely ridiculous and left me in do-nothing paralysis for MONTHS.
The reason this blog exists is because once I actually started DOING, I realized that, yes, I would need to do editing, and yes, I needed a lot of practice, but it really definitely wasn’t bad. I found I loved it! The other reason this blog exists is:
4.) YOU CAN RECOGNIZE YOUR CALLING BECAUSE IT CALLS YOU: And I don’t mean it calls you like a mild craving for a fancy coffee or a glossy magazine ad for a beach vacation…I mean it CALLS YOU.
Calls you debt-collection-agency style.
It pitbull-chomps down on your consciousness and does.not.let.go.
No matter how much you procrastinate, get busy, get tired, put it off, call it impossible, talk yourself out of it, ignore it as much as possible…it hangs out in the back of your mind, nagging at you, pops up into the front of your mind at the “randomest” moments, and crazy coincidences seem to keep steering you into that direction, with doors opening in places you couldn’t even imagine.
If you really want to do THAT THING that has such a hold on you, stop fighting.
This is your sign.
Note: WARNING!!! If you DO NOT want to do this thing, DON’T.
I had a similar experience with an obsession about something I felt like I HAD to do, but dreaded with ALL OF MY BEING, and felt worse trapped than ever--right before my life completely changed 180 degrees around—for the better! And the HORRIBLE THING turned out to be COMPLETELY WRONG AND NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT so I never did it!
Sometimes we get put to one, last, monumental test.
Pursue happiness, always. If you are miserable, you are doing something WRONG. Misery is the guidance system of the Invisible Hand, steering us away from where we shouldn't be. Holding out just means more time wasted being miserable because resistance is ultimately futile. You will have to leave that misery at some point.
5.) MAKE IT EASY FOR YOURSELF TO SAY YES: The easier it is to say no, the more you will put something off, even if it is something you would really like to get done.
Make it easy to say "YES!" to your heart!
I have had days where literally I couldn’t bring myself to do any “real” work; it felt too overwhelming. So I made it easy for myself to say “Yes” to doing it the next day: I got out my materials and set up my supplies.
You can almost inconvenience yourself into doing your work by putting things you need to do in your way.
This can be as simple as getting the broom out of the corner and putting it right in front of the door.
You become ready physically and mentally, because you have prepared yourself. Yes, this too is a step! A step in the right direction IS PROGRESS, no matter how “insignificant” you might consider it at the moment.
6.) ENCOURAGE YOURSELF: This is REALLY difficult if you are, like all of us have been at some point, used to talking to your self negatively—shouting down your own hopes and dreams.
Even those of us who are making positive self-talk a habit need motivational speakers!
So if you need someone’s encouragement, DEFINITELY make use of the zillions of motivational videos and podcasts out there.
Natasha Adamo saved my life, I’ve enjoyed Zig Ziglar since high school, and currently am imbibing the positivity of Gala Darling’s “Wonderland” series.
It’s not about listening for a few minutes to the coach of your choice—I think the more you can listen, the better results you will get.
Gala Darling has been telling me what a badass I am and telling me to “pursue pleasure”, “always put feeling good first”, and all sorts of empowering information for hours and hours and hours for DAYS now.
It has literally taken that long for the message to *really* sink in, although the positivity was enjoyable instantly! AND, it served to inspire and strengthen this post! Win-win!
7.) LAY YOUR BURDEN DOWN: Taking steps is SO.MUCH.HARDER. when you are carrying around burdens of guilt, shame, disappointment in yourself, inadequacy, doubt, etc.
I know because I have been carrying around ALL of those and then some with regards to MULTIPLE issues in my life, sometimes without realizing it!
How did I find out about these hidden burdens and manage to find a way to lay them down?
Credit goes back to Gala Darling because of her awesome video and blog post on tapping (also called Emotional Freedom Technique) (by the way, I found out about Gala Darling thanks to an interview by sweetheart and lifestyle coach, Laura Yates).
I hope you click the links, but if you want to know more from me first, E.F.T. is basically a acupressure massage you give yourself, while you verbalize your problems and shortcomings and affirm your love, acceptance, and forgiveness for yourself. It is the most reassuring thing ever!
For one thing, these terrors and upsets that we keep tormenting ourselves with are finally out in the open.
Just like confessing a horrible secret, once it’s out, suddenly that horrific cloak of shame lifts.
I didn’t even realize how much emotional and mental weight I was shouldering until I started tapping.
For another thing, the more you talk while you release the tension in the pressure points, the more you uncover about why you are worried and other issues. It’s like opening an infected wound so you can clean it out so it can heal.
Lastly, telling yourself that, despite the things you don’t like, you still “completely love, accept, and forgive” yourself, you give yourself that love and acceptance that you NEED to be a healthy functional individual.
I have to lay down to do it because I start yawning every few seconds (if I'm doing a really good job!) and get sleepy, content, and lighter. I really don’t know how I got along before this! Please do yourself a favor and try it today!
8.) YOU HAVE TO BE OKAY: What I mean by this is that, every time I was able to start making some improvement in my life, I had to surrender, to be detached, or just be “okay” with the way things were. Not just okay, GRATEFUL; playing the Glad Game, looking for the positives and the way that I could re-frame the "bad" into something that would serve me.
Every time I was in a desperate, anxiety-ridden tizzy, I got nowhere.
It wasn’t until I was detached from “having to have…” that I started to get those things I really wanted.
Sometimes I was content with what I had and was making the most fun for myself that I could with what I had, other times I literally believed all was lost and I “gave up” any hope of things getting better—not in a self-pitying depression but in a thoroughly defeated, nothing-is-left, I-accept-my-fate, there-is-no-point-in-feeling-or-wishing-anything-anymore way.
Both ways, I no longer was vibrationally grabby, demanding, or entitled...and that is when things started to show they had actually been working in my favor all along. I stopped blocking my blessings, and they arrived at my door.
It can take time to genuinely get to this point, but once you get there, your life will start to change. This is true of pretty much any aspect of life, be it love, a job, etc.
And along these lines (sorry to say the same thing as EVERYONE else, but it is SO IMPORTANT), be grateful. Why choose to feel hopeless when you can choose to feel blessed?
Not only does this help you with “being okay” even when you don’t really feel okay, but it gives you a more positive outlook on your life AND it calls attention to the tools that you have to work with to get where you want to go.
Tools you may have overlooked or taken for granted.
Remember, no matter how hard it seems, there are people who have done more with less. Today is a good day to start getting inspired by those people.
9.) GET A MENTOR: I am a firm believer in learning as much as you can on your own. No one can help you or teach you as well as you can yourself. HOWEVER, sometimes we get too into our own heads, or we really hit a road block, or we just need to talk to someone, darn it.
And that’s okay!!!
ALL of us also need a mentor.
Teaching yourself, learning things on your own will give your mentor something to work with, with you.
But they can give you valuable insights and loving support and ideas that you may never have considered, or ideas you considered but threw away prematurely.
This blog wouldn’t exist, and quite probably I wouldn’t exist, if it hadn’t been for the best money I ever spent on coaching sessions with my mentor.
You do NOT have to do everything alone, you do not ONLY have to rely on cynical family and friends who don’t understand you, you have other options besides an unhelpful, detached, and EXPENSIVE licensed “professional”.
Find someone who already is where you want to be so they can help you see that your dream is possible and help you avoid the same mistakes that they made. Forums are a great place to start too!
10.) ONE MORE THING: Sometimes you have to turn what you are doing into a game (cue Mary Poppins singing “Just A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down”). This is the game that I play with myself, that has gotten me through many a “impossible” task: I just set the standard super low for myself; I tell myself “One thing. Just do one thing.”
At one point I was living in a bona fide hoarder house. A starting point was impossible because the whole place was a clusterf*ck disaster.
So I told myself, “Pick up one thing. Put ONE THING in the place where it should go. You can do that.”
And once I broke the perception that nothing could be done, I told myself, “One more. You can do one more. One more is nothing”. Before long I had a corner of the room clean.
When you have writers’ block, tell yourself, “One more sentence. Just one more even if it sucks or I throw it out later, I CAN write ONE more sentence.”
I think a large part of why we get overwhelmed is because we have a vision of the end product, and want so badly to BE THERE ALREADY that the many many steps we still have left to do feel too inconvenient—and somewhere in our heads too inconvenient gets translated into literally impossible, which is the lie we tell ourselves.
So if your brain is giving you the “This is impossible, you’ll never make it” song and dance routine, just give it the classic argumentative come back: “And another thing...”
And then DO another thing.
I love you so much.
We’re all in this together.
I am SO PROUD of you!
All My Love,