When I decided to finally stop exploring and re-publish my blog last week, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had built a nice email list of subscribers teaching online marketing and business. Now I was suddenly going into a completely new direction and I had no idea what was going to happen next. But I was tired, and I was ready. I didn’t really care what was going to happen next, I just knew that this was a direction I wanted to take, so I was just going to bite the bullet and see what would happen.
I was expecting lots of people to unsubscribe because this wasn’t what they had signed up for. Instead, I got the most responses I’ve ever gotten to anything I’d published in this blog before. So many wonderful comments, and beautiful personal emails. Thank you!
Many people resonated with the part about exploration and congratulated me for finally figuring it all out. Let me hasten to tell you straight away, I haven’t figured it out at all but this direction feels good. I feel like I'm on the right track.
If you are in the same place, not sure what you’re looking for, not sure whether what you’re aiming for is the right thing, then I really encourage you to just keep going, even though it’s not easy.
Whether you're looking for your big work or your great business idea or your dream job or your perfect partner or whatever, being in the middle of it and not knowing whether you'll ever get out of it, is soul crushing! Insecurity is such a difficult thing to embrace especially when you know what you want, but you just don't know how or when it's going to happen or if it's ever going to happen.
Unfortunately, life is not a movie, where you can rest assured that some sort of a happy ending or at least a resolution is going to come about. The worst thing is not that it's not happening right now. The worst thing is that nagging feeling in the back of your mind wondering: what if it never happens? What if despite your searching and hoping you never find it?
This is also the reason why it's easy to settle for something that doesn't quite fit. Maybe you want to meet the perfect guy, but instead, you meet someone who is sort of nice and he really wants to go out with you so it's easier to just go with it than say no and believe that the truly right one is going to appear eventually.
Same thing with your work or any other life choices that you make. It's much easier to stick with something that is familiar or good enough or working on a rational level, even though in the back of your mind you feel like you would want something different or something more.
I've tried to adopt an attitude of never arriving. I’m a driven person who likes big lofty goals, a clear plan and then going for it. However, this approach hasn’t always worked for me. There are so many ways to get stuck! Am I choosing the right thing? Is this what I really want? Is this what I’m going to commit to... for the rest of my life?! Aaargh!!!
No wonder we get stuck and choke and freeze, unable choose anything and letting things just happen to us. The pressure is just too much!
But the world is not static. Life is not a series of choices that you make and live (un)happily ever after with. Everything is fluid and everything changes. You change, your goals change and the world around you changes. The point is not to arrive. The point is not to find the perfect guy, or the perfect idea, or the big purpose that you are going to devote yourself to for the rest of your life.
The point is to keep working on the things that are meaningful right now, at this particular point in time. The important thing is to keep growing, and learning and working through the difficult bits and always asking the tough questions. Is this still interesting? Am I still growing? Am I still moving forward?
So then the most important thing is to just keep going, fumbling and feeling the way forward even when it’s hard to believe that there will ever be light at the end of the tunnel. It’s important to keep the bar high, and to expect more from life, trusting and believing that good things are just around the corner.
This approach requires having the courage to drop the things that don't work anymore. It means embracing change, and not being afraid of difficult conversations or decisions. It means not being afraid of quitting even when there isn’t anything better waiting in the pipeline.
But how do you know if you are on the right track?
My multi-passionate nature is not making things any easier. I’m interested in so many things. I’m curious. I’m open to ideas. I like to say yes, and see what happens. Then I realise it wasn’t for me, and I drop things and find myself perpetually back at square one. How to know which idea to follow? How to know if I'm on the right track?
I've tried to learn patience. I've tried to sleep on it before saying yes. That's why I had to stop writing this blog completely for a while. I needed to create space for getting really clear on what felt right.
I recognised four big shifts that gave me the confidence and assurance that I was indeed on the right track.
1. Turning inwards
For a moment I got really uninterested in what was happening around me. I’m super lazy with social media anyway, but I just dropped out of it completely. I stopped attending webinars, I stopped networking, I left all mastermind groups.
I turned inwards and just let myself be interested in the things that I was really truly interested in, regardless of whether they were “worth my time” or had any “big potential” for something. I just wanted to get really honest about what I truly cared about, without any agenda or goal. Try it, it's great!
The first step to knowing that I was on the right track, was the moment when my own vision grew stronger than all the noise around me. I had something to say, that came from my own thoughts and experiences, instead of responding to external ideas or requests.
2. Stopping seeking validation
I stopped caring about what others wanted. This was really hard, because for so long I've been taught to be customer centric. I was supposed to get clear on my niche, and to know my audience and to respond to its needs, not my own. Instead, I decided to take the artist's route of putting my own work first, leading with my own needs to create what I was lacking.
I was ready to accept that maybe I was starting from scratch again, that the people who had been reading my stuff before, were not going to do so going forward. I really stopped caring about what others would think or want from me, which is surprisingly difficult.
So the second step was realising, that I wanted to do this regardless of what others might think of it.
3. Being unafraid of risks
It feels risky to get personal. It feels risky to do something without a big profit plan. It feels risky to scrap so much work that I’d already done.
I was scared of letting my customers down. I was scared of losing my entrepreneurial friends. I had regrets about the investments that I'd made in my business.
But when I got clearer on the new direction I stopped worrying and that was the third big shift. I realised that what was potentially risky, didn't frighten me at all anymore. I felt good and clear and energised again. I got excited about what I was doing, and that cleared away all my fears.
4. Feeling proud and wanting to share (despite the fears)
One of the big red flags that I started to see in my business was, that I was creating lots of stuff, but then falling a bit short with my launches and promotions. I didn’t feel proud of my work. I didn’t want to shout about it from the rooftops.
The fourth step was the realisation that whatever was going to happen, I wanted to get it out there, even if no one cared, even if it was going to alienate some people. Ideas kept filling my notebook and I couldn't wait to work on them. When the website started to come together and when the first posts went up I couldn't wait to promote them.
So this is how I’ve been tracing my steps, slowly figuring out how to get back on track. In a sense, all these four points lead back to the same thing: what I wanted to create grew bigger and more important than any external thing. It no longer mattered what others would think or what I had to leave behind in order to move forward. The art that wanted to come out was much more exciting than the fears that were holding me back.
Being a seeker is hard. Choosing to explore, maybe forever, is hard. But when I’ve let go of too many expectations, and all that pressure to get it right I've also discovered a direction that feels exciting.
With love and encouragement,