Oh hey there.
This is a different kind of post & I hope you like it.
Long story short, my twitter pal, fellow blogger & psychologist Dr. Danielle Dowling is launching her new book The Soul Sessions, a 5-week guide to crafting greater joy and making big things happen. You can check out a free sample here!
She was kind enough to ask me if I’d share a few ways I live my life on purpose.
It might seem like I’m just winging it over here (spoiler alert: sometimes I am), but in general, I do have a plan. It sure changes a lot, but hey, that’s why god invented White-out. Or erasers. Or the delete button. Anyhow, here’s some insight into how I keep this show on the road.
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How do you let go of the chase for perfection?
Once upon a time (okay, up until 18 months ago), I was paralyzed by the idea of putting anything out there that wasn’t perfect. This is especially challenging as a writer because you can revise something one million times and it’s never going to be perfect.
Last year, I enrolled in an entrepreneurial course called Studio/E. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the idea of just starting. Have an idea? Don’t hem and haw about every little thing. Just start. Take action. Done is better than perfect.
This blog, Hey Eleanor, is the perfect example of just starting. I’d been thinking about doing it for nearly a year. I had great ideas, but what I didn’t have was a website. As long as I didn’t have a site, I didn’t have jack squat. So on September 1, 2013, I decided to just start. I gave myself one month to build and publish my site. Whatever I had on October 1, 2014 was going live, perfect or not.
It wasn’t perfect, but I did have something good enough to publish by my deadline. A year later and I am still working on making my site better. But in the meantime, I’ve been able to build a dedicated following and a name for myself as a writer. No one seems to notice all my site’s imperfections (well, except for me).
Do you have any rituals that help you return to your truest, most centered self?
I’ve discovered the biggest thing that keeps me from feeling centered is my ever-growing list of tasks. You know, boring stuff, like errands.
So when I start feeling overwhelmed, I take a half or sometimes full day and tackle all the crap that’s clouding my mind– dropping off dry cleaning, getting a car wash (interior and exterior, preferably! This one is my favorite, btw.), bringing stuff to the post office, calling stupid Comcast. Often times, just making an appointment I’ve been putting off helps clear my mind (example: dental visit).
I’ve found once I’ve cleared away those tasks, my brain can breathe again. That’s when I feel the best about myself and the least distracted. That’s when I can tap into my truest, most centered self, if you will.
How do find the courage to jump into a new adventure?
First and foremost, I trust my gut.
Second, rarely do people just stumble upon greatness. In order to make great things happen, you can’t sit back and wait for them to happen to you. You have to jump. That’s incentive enough for me.
Most recently, I took a leap of faith and quit a pretty amazing job. My friend and mentor Dana Cowin once told me, “It can be very depressing to be unemployed, but I think it’s more depressing to be badly employed.” It wasn’t that I had a bad job, but it no longer fit me. I needed a change.
I think Dana’s idea translates to a lot of areas– relationships, hobbies, work. It’s worse to settle than to strive for greatness. Just that idea gives me courage.
What are some things you’ve said ‘no’ to so you can focus on what’s most important to you? What are you currently saying ‘no’ to?
When I quit my job, I was feeling creatively tapped, emotionally zapped and didn’t have the time or energy to work on Hey Eleanor.
Thus far, self-employment has been great (flexible schedule! Ability to focus on what I love to do! Working from home!), but scary. Though I do have some income rolling it, it’s nowhere near what I was making full-time.
I promised myself I wouldn’t just take on any old freelance writing gigs just because of money. If I said yes to everything, I’d find myself in the same position I was just a month ago: creatively tapped with no time to spend on my own projects. Except this time, I’d also have to deal with invoicing and juggling many projects with different entities instead of just collecting a paycheck.
So as of right now, I haven’t been actively seeking writing gigs. I’ve taken on two small projects that have rolled my way and fit with my brand, but have said no to many that weren’t inline with my brand. It’s been hard to say no to perfectly fine opportunities, but I know it’s the right decision right now. I’m being selective.
(Talk to me in a few months and I might be eating these words.)
What do you always say “yes” to?
I always say yes to a new adventure, especially travel. My husband and I are thinking about kids in the next few years, so things that require a little more time and planning are high on my list of priorities. Precisely why we are going to Australia & New Zealand in January. That’s a challenging trip to take once kids are in the picture.
It’s not always easy to say yes to adventures, even when they sound fun. I’d argue ESPECIALLY when they seem fun. I think a lot of us feel “having fun” isn’t accepted culturally as a good use of time, especially if it means taking time off work.
That’s part of the reason I started Hey Eleanor… I’m basically forced to say yes to adventure. I’m trying to turn it into my job. How cool is that?
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Thanks for inviting me to partake in your blog crawl, Danielle! This is the second one I’ve done (see Notes To My Younger Self) & I must say I prefer these to bar crawls. I can wear my pjs the whole time and I’m not hungover the next day. Brilliant!