Recently, I’ve been feeling things slide again. For me, this is an internal battle of knowing what I need to do and how I actually spend my time.
It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with this tension from the beginning; with blogging, writing and setting up my own business. Reading books like ‘Everything I Know’ by Paul Jarvis, which I reviewed early this year, have given me hope that it’s okay not to follow the crowd with your idea of what ‘business’ means. What feels right for you when it comes to schedules, economics and image may be completely different to the next person. A lot of what I’ve done recently (or not done, as the case might be), is working through trial and error.
Again – I know what I have to do. It’s always been working through the many guises of resistance: lack of motivation, other people’s demands, lack of prioritisation – that has been my nemesis. I will continue to figure out what works for me. It is still early days and I’m determined to work out a balance.
A few months ago, I said I was going to start a happiness project. Life itself often intervenes in self imposed structures, and I’m beginning to realise that maybe I’m not the kind of person who values structuring much. For some things, yes – writing and blocks of time I use for work related things – but for the rest of life: I feel that I enjoy it all more when I’m not imposing upon myself. I think focus is more important – giving your focus and attention to one thing at a time. There are things that I don’t like doing that make me happier in the long run, like tidying up and being more aware of how I can help myself organise things, but I’m learning that I like to feel as free as possible. I thrive when I have deadlines, but I don’t like to be too constrained – such a contradiction…
I often think we push ‘self improvement’ too far – I know my bad habits and my weaknesses but I’m always mindful of how I can work with or around them. Sometimes I do trip myself up but we all do. There’s always tomorrow; we wake to a new dawn every day. With business and the seeds of a new idea, we can often be too influenced by what the expected set-up is. You can care too much about what other people think.
When I started writing, I read a lot of writing advice books. They made me excited about writing and some of them did give good advice. Yet it’s easy to become too bogged down by ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ – and often people will give advice that contradicts someone else’s advice. With writing, as with many things, you have to feel your own way. You put the writing in – you learn what works and what doesn’t from trial and error. It gets better over time.
I was looking back at some of my older blog posts and I can see how my writing progress and voice has changed and developed. Over time, I’ve grown into my own style and voice. My photography has improved. It is interesting to see that progress: it reminds me that we are constantly learning, even if the changes are subtle. My advice is just this: keep going, keep writing and creating, be patient and work at your craft, whatever it is. Nothing happens overnight – even if it seems to, we don’t see the work that has gone into something behind the scenes.
I know that my life, on the outside, may seem unconventional or even a little ‘lazy’ to those of another generation. My husband and I don’t yet have a place of our own: I earn very little at the moment and we still live with my parents. However, there is room enough for all of us, and I’m learning that unconventional living arrangements are actually happening the world over. Whether due to economics or family structure, it is more common than people realise.
I often have dark nights of the soul when it comes to money but I am learning what ‘enough’ means to me. I’m also learning how to share and to give other people space when they need it. The dream is to save enough money to have a place of our own, but whilst I find my way through self employment, money will be on the light side. I work hard behind the scenes – I read, write and plan. Next is to put plans into action and to write my heart out on a non-fiction book project I’m doing. Once that project is more fully developed, I’m sure I will unveil it!
I think that many of us nowadays are more multi-skilled and talented than we think. We run blogs, we take photos, we think both in business terms and creatively. Many of us want to change the world – to give other people inspiration and confidence. Some of us are activists and all of us have an opinion. That mix of skills is often not evident to those in older generations who may have a career where success is measured by money and materials. That trap is easy to fall into: I know that money is important, but what does ‘enough’ mean? For different people, ‘enough’ has a different value.
There might be a strain of us who want ‘more’ from life – not just work and money, but they want to do something with their work that is meaningful for others, that makes the world a better place. They want the reach of their work to ripple outwards and change the way people see the world. One person can be enough – one person who says ‘thank you, I feel understood.’ Giving back to the world doesn’t always translate to a lot of money – but isn’t the joy and growth enough? Again – what is ‘enough’?
‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you do not have, you will never, ever, have enough.’ – Oprah Winfrey.