Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Ambition Gap

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is a gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into this game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close the gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take a while. It's normal to take a while. You've just gotta fight your way through."  - Ira Glass

This is so true. Every time I re-read and re-work my book, I encounter the gap. I know it has potential. I know how good it can be but I'm in fighting mode right now, just trying to bridge that gap. So I continue with the 7th re-write.

To those fighting the fight in the murky, mucky middle - keep fighting. I'm right along side of you, slinging mud and covered in it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Growing out of Plateaus

  1. 1
    an area of relatively level high ground.
    synonyms:uplandtablelandplainmesahighland, coteau
    "a windswept plateau"
  2. 2
    a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
    "the peace process had reached a plateau"
    synonyms:quiescent period; More
reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.
"the industry's problems have plateaued out"

I coach an athlete whose code/safe word for "it's not working" is plateau. We jokingly landed on it during our last conversation of sorting through her work/life/exercise balance.  I'm grateful to write her training plan and she does an exceptional job adhering to it despite her hectic work schedule, motherhood, wifehood and helping others be the best they can be. She is a giver, through and through. And because of that, she often has a hard time taking time for herself. 

Sound familiar, anyone?

Forgetting to take time for ourselves is common. Especially for caretakers. 

So when this athlete sent another plateau text recently, I knew she was ready to have "the talk". And no, I'm not referring to analyzing data or annual training plans. This talk was going to be about what's really going on. A talk that goes beyond periodization and tapering and figuring out how hard to go during intervals. 

She was cautious at first when we first started talking so I dove right into it. We talked about unshakeable sense of something not sitting quite right.

We all have plateaus in our lives: staying at job because you feel comfortable but know you could be contributing more to society; getting that book published but not finding the time; wanting change but not making the time or effort. Stale moments in life happen despite being super busy and juggling a million things. It's the realization that something isn't working and that your forward progress has halted. 

The good news? Overcoming plateaus is up to you. You can change things. You can put in the time and energy to make a difference in your life. The first step is recognizing that you want change. Then it's figuring out how to make that change and coming up with a game plan. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Becoming An Expert On Living

Every day is an opportunity to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. Yet it's easy to get swept up in the everyday routine, the struggle, the push to produce and keep up with your workload. And it's just as easy to get complacent and settle into a comfortable routine that no longer challenges you. It's easy and potentially satisfying. I assume that we all do it at some point or another.

But I keep coming back to the same question, over and over again: am I living life to the fullest?

Things will get busy and the routine will swallow the hours in the day, quickly fading into night, and into weeks, months, years, and gasp - decades.

No matter how much times passes though, that question keeps bubbling up.

Am I living life to the fullest? 

Are you living your life to the fullest? When you close your eyes and think about what it is that you really want to be doing in work and in life - are you doing it now? What's preventing you from striving toward that goal? What do you need to overcome in order to pursue your dreams? What's holding you back?

I figure once you land on that dream, then chances are you'll stop asking yourself if you're living your life to the fullest. Or at least that's my theory.

If someone has a road map on how to get there - can you please share it with the rest of us?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

When Inspiration Calls...

You never know when inspiration will hit. It could be in the shower, while you're doing laundry, at the store, or during any other mundane task. And if there's one thing I've learned time and time again - you've got to strike while the iron is hot. You have to find a piece of paper and pen or computer to jot down your thoughts or else they quickly fade back into the world. I once read that if you don't capture those moments of inspiration or ideas then they float away, landing on someone else until someone finally picks up a pad of paper and pen and gets to work. How many times have you read something someone else wrote or saw some sort of art and thought, hey! I remember thinking that at one point! Yep, it happens.

And trust me, I've had dozens of creative thoughts since the last time I wrote. My resolution is to start jotting them down with more regularity, to get those ideas out into the world. I created a road map, or rather, a game plan of sorts to help me. And I'm taking steps to make my dreams become reality.