Self-Sabotaging thoughts are worse.
If you are an avid reader of our blog, you may have noticed I haven’t written very much in the past month and a half. There’s a reason. I’ve been so exhausted and focused on our other project (linked here).
As most of you know, Miro and I have envisioned bringing natural learners to Peru to create a temporary learning community. The idea was an inspired one, but it is also seeded by a selfish desire. The desire to share some of the amazing discoveries we’ve made with other like minded people, creating community and digging deeper into the abyss of the unknown, through feedback, exploration and discovery. In other words, we had the vision to create an engaged learning community.
Having a clear vision was the first step. Miro and I brainstormed together, designed the vision together, and started planning together. We’ve reached out to contacts together, made arrangements with researchers, musicians, artisans, and mystics. The planning for the retreat has been a joint effort, from the conceptual and experiential levels.
But ultimately, over the past two months, I’ve been focused on the marketing aspects of the retreat.
Marketing and public relations and sales and marketing and writing and reaching out and marketing and publicity. If that read as repetitive, it was meant to. I’ve felt the pressure of being a one person PR / sales and marketing department. And this is the first time I’m producing a project like this. So many times I’ve felt like my energies have been spent, spinning in unseen directions, spent perhaps not in the best ways, heading towards burnout. But I move ahead, push onward and continue as I hold on to the vision.
One morning I sat in my kitchen with a dear friend who is also starting a business in Peru’s Sacred Valley. We sat together drinking a cup of tea. Tears spontaneously sprung from my eyes as I looked deep into my coffee cup.
I needed to talk, share, get it out.
I admitted to feeling overworked, stressed, not feeling supported and completely overwhelmed. I had accessed all the feelings I had so readily on the surface when I ran my business in Los Angeles, many years ago. But this time, I admitted with complete embarrassment, that I didn’t know what to do next.
My friend listened with compassion and did not interrupt my stream of consciousness. Then she said softly, that she was surprised. She said to me, “you seemed to have it all together, Lainie“.
I sat back and thought about what she just said. I wondered what the bigger meaning of that statement was.
- I was clear about vision for the project.
- I was clear about our reasons for pouring our hearts and souls into the project.
- I was clear about the big picture Miro and I jointly envision.
- I could even feel what the retreat would be like when it’s happening.
- I could imagine participants gathering from across the world to share in the vision.
- I could see it all in my minds eye.
- I could clearly see the magic unfolding.
I’ve never had so much clarity before and the vision for me was stronger because it was created as a joint vision with my co-creator and son, Miro.
But do I really have it all together?
I don’t feel that way. As I explore deeper, two powerful things come up for me:
First, I’m not sure what else I need to be doing to get more people interested and actually “buy-in” to the vision. Many days, I search, and search and send out inquiries and announcements and engage and market, and market and market and..Ugh…. Many of those efforts, many of the times come, with no response.
I know that’s the reality of marketing and the reality of sales. I know rejection, silence and persistence is a big part of the process. But still…… the vision keeps me focused, keeps me seeking.
And the clarity and passion behind the project keeps me grounded.
Nevertheless, I struggle with the “idea” that if I’m not actively doing something, anything, our vision won’t be successful. The problem is, I don’t have clarity around what it is I should be doing. And somehow, I feel if I’m not “doing” the work, it’s not going happen. And I struggle with the idea of “making it happen” which is almost now contrary to the way we’ve been living our lives. Instead, we’ve become accustomed to living through inspiration and allowing our lives to unfold.
And then, negative self talk shouts: “But allowing it to unfold naturally, somehow seems like a set up for failure, Lainie. DO SOMETHING!”
See my frustration?
I’m at a complete loss.
And when I relax, and focus on the vision, I feel anxious that I’m not doing, doing, DOING. I’m anxious because I feel like I should be marketing, selling, promoting, doing public relations and pushing. I have quite a bit of stress surrounding the entire project. (But it’s not about the project itself, because the project itself feels clear.)
Next, I am having a difficult time quieting the negative self talk that is telling me, if this doesn’t work, I have failed. I feel like I have failed myself and worse, my son. I know that sounds harsh, and that kind of baseline belief is likely the self-sabotaging thought that is preventing the success itself. But that pressure seems to be on a loop. It’s the same voice that kept me glued to my computer 12 hours a day when I ran my business that told me the same messages. It’s the same voice that pushed me to work on weekends, and miss much of my son’s life before we left. That voice is charged with emotions, that somehow dictates a portion of my self worth. That voice is scary to me, because it still has much power in my life. But that voice also has strength to it, and it contains my drive. When the world says I can’t achieve a certain thing, that voice is my strength telling me it’s possible. But that voice is not forgiving. I haven’t’ made peace yet with that voice and sometimes she haunts me.
I am sure, I need a team to pull this part off. When I feel stressed, I don’t feel like I’m in the flow of things. I don’t feel tapped into the inspiration, which has guided me thus far. But the idea that if I don’t do anything it will surly fail is that idea I need to work on.
So I haven’t been writing much on the blog as of late. My preference is to focus on the positive and the grander vision because that simply feels better to me.
But I’ve been struggling lately and wanted to share with you why. The good thing is, that every time in my life I’ve gone to this place of stress and challenge, it’s followed by change. I’m not sure what it will be, of course, so many things are on the surface at the moment. The vision for our project is strong. I know in my heart of hearts it will happen. But if it doesn’t happen this time, I do know it will.
At some point.
Returning, but not going back.
24 Core Questions for Self-Directed Learners- ANSWERED
Yes, I’m aware of what it’s like to be the only person behind the vision. At least, the only one putting in the marketing, writing, etc hours. I hate that stuff. It also leaves me with a knot in the stomach.
That said, I don’t doubt that you will achieve your vision. You will. And failure is a funny word, because it only means you stopped. So as long as you keep going and working toward what you see, you simply cannot fail.
I mean, you have a vision. How many people have made it that far?
You are amazing! you are Strong! You are intelligent! You are beautiful inside and out! Your vision is so clear because it is something that will happen! I will be part of your team any day!! xo
Lainie – focus on the successes and celebrate them! even if they are small! for many people it helps to have a to-do list and to mark things off as DONE. this way they can see what they have accomplished and feel hopeful from that.
I think also that if you are calm and collected, this will be projected through your sales communication. No one wants to buy from someone who may be self-conscious, worried, rushed, etc.
Also, burnout is not relieved by continuing through the sludge. TAKE A BREAK. Even if you can only afford a day or two, take a break and get away from it all. Relax or have fun with Miro. 🙂 Put a vacation response on your email and clear your mind. You will be really surprised at how much this will help when you go back to work.
Your project is going to be great and successful! Don’t stress 🙂 Be happy and thankful for what you have, where you have come from, and the process/journey you have taken to get there.
– Mary Beth
Oh I know just how you feel! I have developed one woman events before and could not understand why people were not signing up in their flocks.
Your event looks amazing – a fabulous idea and once you get one under your belt you will build a waiting list for the others. What is stopping me signing up? The short run in time – there is no way I would get my head around packing myself and my kids up and getting on a plane to Peru in a few weeks (also the funds to do so). You probably have been developing and promoting this for ages but I’m only a new follower of yours (word is spreading!).
If it helps: What I have found in the past is the run in time to a premier event run by one person needs to be extra long. This is so people can not only get the funds together but also get their head around the idea and realising it is a possibility. Also if I was going to Peru I would want to do extra excursions in the weeks before or the weeks after to the surrounding countries so to make it a trip of a lifetime. So if you are finding tumbleweed going through the sign up area I would suggest pushing it out to November 2014, taking the pressure off yourself and just focus on building your list of interested people and keeping in regular touch with them (which you do anyway!) If so I am definitely in for next November!
Fabulous idea, you have all the ground work done so just give yourself the time to enjoy spreading the word about it and you will have a full list.
All the best, Rosie
I can totally relate to your struggle and situation putting together and nurturing this project.
I want to tell you, or better yet: remind you, that YOU CAN’T FAIL! What you and Miro are doing is inspiring, amazing, and powerful. The actual retreat/event is just details. When I first read about Project Un-School Peru I was inspired and changed. Your vision has nourished my motivation to follow my dreams and get out into the world as a single mom of two young boys.
In my book, you are already creating success and an empowering community. Do not get discouraged by the details, by the stress inherent with putting together an event of that magnitude. It is already paying off, it is already alive and changing lives.
I hope that Alex, Max and I can be there and be part of your first amazing gathering/natural learning community.
Thanks for being a force of life and a source of inspiration,
Wow. It takes a lot to up and say some of what really goes on behind the scenes, so thank you. Coming from a similar place of wanting to be DOING, I think for me it has really started to be easier to just say, “Um, you know what? I don’t know how this is going to end.” I know you know this already, but the creative process beckons us to get lost a little first, in order to find center. The thing people forget is that ALL of it, even after the copy’s writ and glossy printed, is part of that dithering, that process.
Warmest wishes from Gangtok, where we’re doing our best to try to make a go of things uncertain, too.