In this issue ~~
* Taking It Slow
* Celebrating Your Successes
* Creative Tip
* Wise Words
Living in today's fast-paced world – especially if you live
in a big city – it's hard to slow down. There's so much to do,
so much to achieve, so many things pulling at you. The media
is constantly telling you to reach for more-better-faster. Or
your own inner drive may be pushing you to make a difference,
and there doesn't seem to be enough time to do that and still
take care of everything else in your life. It seems you can never
do enough, fast enough.
Some high-energy people thrive on this pace, but many of us
don't. We find ourselves getting tired and sick trying to keep
up. We may achieve a lot, but the process becomes painful, and
we begin to feel trapped in our lives.
Happily, there's a new trend toward simplification and paring
down your to-do list. Time management plans can certainly help
us pack more into our days, but that isn't always the solution.
Sometimes we simply need to do less. It may be hard to give up
things we enjoy, along with things we feel we should do, but
better to do a few things well and enjoy them than do many things
in a rushed and haphazard way.
Giving up the fast pace may not be easy, especially if you've
been driving yourself for a long time. Try some of the following,
and remember to stick with them. Change doesn't happen overnight.
~ Become more efficient. Get the unpleasant tasks done on
a regular basis, rather than resisting and avoiding them so they
pile up. Set up systems for repetitive tasks. For instance, take
the time to get your finances on the computer once and for all,
so that you can spend less time on it in the future. Reorganize
your work space so you have easy access to the tools you need.
Have a family meeting and brainstorm ideas for streamlining chores.
Then have each person choose which tasks they'll be responsible
for. Have weekly meetings to make sure your plans are working
and to make improvements.
~ Honor your own needs. Go at your own pace. Aim for your
personal best rather than competing with others. If being in
the fast lane makes you anxious and stressed, create a strategy
for moving over, at least to the center lane, if not the slow
lane. It's not about how much and how fast you achieve, but how
much you learn and how much you savor the accomplishment. There
are lots of successful people who never experience their success,
because it's never enough, and they're always on to the next
conquest without taking time to enjoy this one. Celebrate your
successes, and let them be enough. Then go on to the next challenge
out of choice, not because you're driven to.
~ Prioritize. Get in touch with your values, then give priority
to what will bring the most value to your life, rather than answering
phone calls, dealing with junk mail and e-mail, or whatever other
distraction comes up. Set aside time for what matters, and don't
let the interruptions become more important. Eliminate activities
that are old and familiar, but no longer serve you.
~ Let it be okay to be less of an achiever. Take a long, hard
look at all you have in your life and all you want, and decide
what *really* matters. Eliminate the things that don't, and move
to the back burner those that you're not prepared to handle right
now. Then prioritize what's left and see how much time you can
realistically devote to each. Be sure to include time for unexpected
snags and interruptions. Pare down the list again if necessary.
Many creative types have a zillion interests, and it's easy to
overwhelm ourselves trying to fit them all in.
~ Take small steps. If you keep putting one foot in front
of the other, you'll get where you want to go, at a pace that
serves you. There's no value in reaching your goal if you're
too burned out to enjoy it.
~ Learn to say no. Decide where you want to spend your precious
time and resources, and courteously turn down offers that don't
meet your criteria. Yes, you may lose some friendships, but they
will likely be ones that you aren't enjoying much anyway. Set
your own pace and direction in your career, not what anyone else
expects of you. Go for quality, not quantity.
~ Be sure to set aside time to take care of yourself. Service
is honorable, but if you're burned out, you won't have much to
give to anyone else. Make sure your life is balanced. Include
time for play, self-care, friends -- whatever rejuvenates you,
whether that be a creative pursuit, a sport, meditation, playing
with a pet or a walk in nature.
~ If you want to bring new opportunities into your life, make
space for them by eliminating. If you try to pour more water
into a full container, it won't make it in. Let go of activities
that no longer serve you, or that you choose to release to make
room for more beneficial ones. Use the newly-found time to relax
and enjoy rather than creating busy work to fill it. If you're
devoting time, energy and intention toward preparing for and
creating new opportunities, it will fill soon enough.
~ Remember, you don't have to live up to anyone else's standards.
There will always be people who achieve less or more than you.
Set goals that feel good to you, that you enjoy working at, and
stick with them. Many self-help technologies encourage you to
set higher and higher goals and achieve more. If that doesn't
feel good to you, don't do it. The new slogan is "do less,
achieve more." You can do that by picking and choosing your
goals -- ones that are joyful and realistic for you -- and staying
focused on them, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
~ Begin and end the day quietly, with meditation, breathing
exercises, prayer, writing in your gratitude journal, listening
to soft music, spending a few moments with loved ones, or just
doing nothing. Eastern spirituality speaks of the power of silence.
When you come from a place of being calm, clear and centered,
you'll be more focused and productive, accomplishing more in
less time. It's hard to be creative when your mind is racing
in a thousand directions.
~ Stick it out. If you've been going at a fast pace for years,
you've probably been running on adrenaline, and when you start
to slow down, you may find yourself feeling bored or restless.
Stay with it, rather than falling back on old patterns to relieve
the discomfort for the moment. Adrenaline can be addictive, but
you can get beyond the need for it. Likewise, you may need to
stick through feeling guilty that you're not doing enough. When
things start flowing more easily and effortlessly in your life,
the guilt will disappear soon enough.
Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare. You can be
busy and active and never get anywhere, or you can move slowly
and methodically and arrive in due time. You'll have to tune
out the voices calling for more-better-faster, but it's the inner
voice of your authentic self that really matters anyway.
At times in our artistic careers (or any career, for that
matter), we find ourselves dependent on the approval of others.
In some cases, it may take years of work and practice before
we're ever gratified with acknowledgment from other people, in
the form of reviews, sales, jobs or promotions. That can leave
us feeling defeated, deflated and discouraged.
If you sell your art or need to get a job in order to practice
it, then certainly, you're dependent on other people's approval
to make your living. But in a deeper sense, it's your own approval
that really matters. The approval from others may never come
-- or it may, but not the way you want it to -- but you can always
give it to yourself.
By celebrating your own work, you can periodically produce
for yourself a sense of accomplishment. Rather than waiting for
that big commission or your big break, find opportunities to
reward and celebrate your work yourself. You can create an air
of success and celebration around yourself that will bring joy
and give value to your work, and that ambience will attract others.
Celebrate solo or include other people, but don't hesitate to
initiate it yourself. It doesn't have to come from someone else
to be worthwhile.
~ Celebrate the small successes as much as the big ones. Include
celebration as part of your personal management strategy. Set
short-term goals and reward yourself when you complete them,
rather than waiting until you finish the entire project. If completing
the first draft (or even the first page!) of your book or screenplay
is a big deal for you, then celebrate. You don't have to wait
till someone buys it.
~ Keep a success journal. Each night before bed, write down
at least three successes you had that day, however small. Many
people find that the inner, intangible successes are the ones
that really matter. You can also review your journal when you're
feeling discouraged to renew your spirits.
~ Take yourself out to dinner, alone or with friends. Toast
~ Buy yourself something you've been wanting. You might put
aside $5 or $10 each week that you work toward your goal, and
once you achieve it, use that money to treat yourself to something
~ Invite appreciative friends over to see your work (or work-in-progress).
Enjoy their enjoyment of it. Serve champagne.
~ Throw a party. Perform your work or let it be the centerpiece.
~Your celebration can also be a quiet "going within."
For example, create a gratitude ritual. Whenever you reach a
goal, give thanks for all the help you received, both human and
divine. Also, give thanks in advance for achieving your next
goal to set the stage for the next success. Your ritual may be
as simple as a brief meditation or prayer, or as elaborate as
setting up an altar, lighting candles, singing, dancing, tithing,
whatever. Keeping a daily gratitude journal has also proven beneficial
to many people.
~ The completion of a project often comes with a feeling of
being let down, particularly if you've been working with a group,
as in a performance, and your "family" of months or
years is disbanding. So your celebration may also be a ritual
of completion, letting go and moving on -- a transition to the
next project or quiet phase.
Remember, you don't have to wait for your "big break"
to have a celebration. Honor all the work you've done, the breakthroughs
and growth you've had, and all that you've learned about yourself
in the process. Create that feeling of success about yourself,
and let it know where to come find you!
If you're feeling scattered and unproductive, stop, take some
time to clear your mind and get centered, get clear on what you'd
like to accomplish, and then go back to it. You'll find that
things flow a lot more smoothly when you're calm and focused.
"There is only one success to be able to spend your life
in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims
~ Christopher Morley
"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you
love and believe in, and it will come naturally."
~ David Frost
(click on the book graphic to see a
description at Amazon.com)
Take Time for Your Life:
A Personal Coach's Seven-Step Program for Creating the Life You
Want . . . Cheryl Richardson
Doing Less and Having
More: Five Easy Steps for Discovering What You Really Want -
And Getting It . . . Marcia Wieder
Slowing Down to the
Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from
the Inside Out . . . Richard Carlson
What's the Rush?: Stepping
Out of the Race, Freeing Your Mind, Changing Your Life
. . . James Ballard
Stop Screaming at the
Microwave: How to Connect Your Disconnected Life . . .
Create a Celebration:
Ideas and Resources for Theme Parties, Holidays, and Special
Occasions . . . Ellen M. Pals
Rituals for Our Times:
Celebrating, Healing, and Changing Our Lives and Our Relationships
. . . Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts
Journey of Gratitude
(Writing a Gratitude Journal) . . . Ann Lasater
© 1999 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.
and tapes listed in the Bookshelf section of each newsletter
can be ordered from Amazon.com. To go to a specific book's page
on the Amazon site, click on the book or tape icon next to each
Click on the graphic left for a message from Amazon's president.