"For last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words await another voice" ~T.S. Eliot
Yes I shared that same quote last year, yes I realize just how ironic that is, and yes; it's kind of why I like it! For those who have been following me for a number of years, you know that - for the past decade or so, I've skipped resolutions in favor of selecting a "word-of-the-year."
My life word is ENGAGE; the other (prayed for) word I focus on each year works together with "engage" to help guide all of the things I accomplish (or - quite frankly - fail at and learn from, too).
Last year, my word was "SPACE." I wanted to create more of it in my home, my calendar, my budget, my heart, and my waistline. I have to admit that I felt like I was failing that one most of last year, but - upon completing my business budget and final tasks of 2018 (on December 29th . . . ahem), I had this crazy realization that, 'Hey! I did it!' We had just finished a household purge of unneeded or unused plethoras of stuff in kitchen, dining, movies, games, and storage. I let go of old hurts and mended important relationships with the freed up space in my heart. I got some health issues taken care of which gave me the equivalent of weeks back in my year. I spent a whole year working in the financial black for the first time in my career. Finally, while some work is definitely in order, I ended the year with my exercise room in order. (Okay - so that one wasn't quite where I wanted it, but I'll take the very small win!)
STILL . . . I looked at next year's work calendar after a(nother) season of crazy hours and I had a momentary panic. I could do more. It's been my modus operandi to do more - to maximize. Next year (this year) was (is) light. Only four client book releases, plus some rereleases of my past books (two of them) and some short writes that have been done, but never released (ten of those). Was it enough? What about all the projects I turned down at the end of the year? Should I maybe reconsider and accept one of them? After all, the money is good. The money for this year's releases may not be as high as last year's, right? What if they don't have strong releases? Should I make sure to have more of my paid production work? Take on more classes at the college? I turned down several high-paying clients in the past month alone. This is the time of my career that I had always dreamed of . . . when the work comes to me, not me spending all my time seeking the work. Even my adult daughter (who keeps the same ridiculous hours her dad and I taught her to keep) said to me:
"But, will the work always be there if you don't take it, now?"
Is she right?
Is my panic justified?
Work - work - work!
That's what America is all about, right?
I'm living that rare American Dream, after all - doing my art for my career.
I quite literally asked for space and here I was looking at it in utter fear. How ridiculous on so many fronts. First, my business budget . . . and I mean budget of time as well as money . . . is in the black with that space I desired, for the first time ever. I even built investments into my annual plan, working to make some of my books and courses a bit more self-sustaining. Second, I thought about the picture I was looking at when my panic set in. "Only" sixteen books will come out this year. "Only" four full-length client projects. When the hell did my "only" become the equivalent of one and a quarter books . . . per month? I remember, when chasing the dream was exciting and nerve-wracking, that I would spend an entire year developing, creating, and trying to sell a single children's book. And, while I was often heartbroken or frustrated in those days, I also remember every single win being one that felt worthy of joyful celebration. Only SPACE allows celebration.
The whole moment gave rise to the realization of just how much entrepreneurs (and - believe me - if you're an artist, you ARE an entrepreneur) are driven by cultural expectations. We are, in America, expected to infinitely grow, regardless of the cost to our bodies, minds, spirits, homes, or relationships. No wonder I needed space. I had filled every inch of it in my life. I was no longer growing because I was chasing the dream, but because I was chasing a standard. I forgot to stop and appreciate that the dream was already here. I didn't take the time to BE STILL and take it all in. What a joyful celebration and I was letting it pass me by . . . even after I had asked specifically for it!
So, this year, my word is STILL.
I look forward to being in every one of the moments with clients who win big this year. While I physically do the work, I will be still in mind and heart to be "remaining in place" for the moments. I look forward to living the dream of creating my art again. I have the space. I want to appreciate it and use it for joy and celebration. When I read back last year's goal, I realize it took me all year to actually get there, but I did get there. Being still is the only way I can actually appreciate the space I dreamt of last year.
So, maybe this was a part 1 and part 2, but I'm ready to be driven by more than an expectation of fullness that I never created. In fact, STILL is really about redefining what full means.
Oh - and, by the way - I don't have any big sale to offer you in this message. I'm sure I'm breaking some sort of entrepreneurial expectation in that choice, too. But, I thought I'd just chat with you, today. There will be plenty of time for such things. For now, just be STILL and maybe (I hope!) there's some insight that was provoked for your own career in these thoughts.
Did you meet your 2018 goals . . . or do you see them differently now?
Do you have a goal, word, or resolution for 2019?
Are your goals inspired by you or by a cultural standard or expectation that you didn't choose?
I'd love to hear from other artists and entrepreneurs on these subjects!
Yours in writing,
9-Time #1 Bestselling Author of Over 50 Publications
Celebrity Co-Author and Writing & Publishing Industry Consultant
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"Better words for a better world!"