I started writing weekly and, outside of a 2-week break at Christmas and a summer break over July, I hit send every week with a new article. I met with dozens of people looking to calm their chaos and change their habits. It’s been incredibly rewarding to work with those who signed on for regular productivity consulting. I couldn’t ask for better clients.
Like most years, it’s been up and down. Last summer started with so much excitement. I felt so motivated and driven.
Since then I have ridden the rollercoaster of feeling exhausted and deflated, optimistic and hopeful, overwhelmed and disinterested. I have written over 70,000 words and deleted countless more. I have scrapped dozens of ideas and reworked dozens more. Sure, I have had some no-shows and tire-kickers, but mostly effective and powerful one-on-one sessions. I questioned my talent over and over, only to have someone (maybe even you) tell me they needed to read something I wrote or hear something I said.
Personally, I felt so much joy reconnecting with my friends and family post-vaccination. Going out for meals, having people over for dinner, going to concerts and weddings, and travelling. I felt (and still feel) grief over the deaths of both our senior cats, only 6 months apart, but also excitement and anticipation of adopting new ones.
I am a few steps further into the labyrinth of my life, here are a few things I learned along this particular stretch.
Consistency is key
Starting something can be scary and hard. But once you get going, that beginning part is full of so much wonder and enthusiasm.
The true test is keeping it going after months and months. It’s easy to push yourself and feel motivated when something is new and feels full of endless possibilities.
It starts to feel harder when the shine wears off. It’s hard to keep at it when you are tired, sick, unmotivated, or feeling low. It’s hard when it is -28C outside and dark most of the time. It’s hard when you are dealing with a significant personal loss or family stressors.
But if you can keep going, even on the days that you don’t feel like it, the snowball keeps building.
Being consistent in my writing practice every weekday. Being consistent in my fitness every day. Being consistent in my daily reflection. These all combined into continuous momentum that I am proud of. I have published 46 articles, am on 1675 days in a row of fitness, and have nearly 3 years of daily reflections under my belt.
Be consistent and move the needle every day, just a bit.
Just because you love it, doesn’t mean it isn’t work
When asked about my work, I can genuinely say that I love it (which is rare, I think). I love to write. I love working with my clients. I find both extremely fulfilling.
But damn if I don’t still have days that I have to force myself to work. There are writing days where I stare at my screen for an hour and write 3 lines, or worse, write 1500 words and delete the whole mess. Or client sessions where I wonder if I provided enough value. Or days where I practise a webinar presentation because I have to present it the next day, but feel completely disinterested.
I have learned just how taxing working on something you love can be.
I knew on an intellectual level that this path would require endurance, but experiencing it is a whole other thing. At many points, it has been a slog, especially in the dead of a Canadian winter or during times of loss.
I often have to dig deep into my well of motivation to keep trudging forward.
My experience is a reminder that loving something doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. You just have to keep going, keep working on it, and it will keep building.
We are all the same, we are all different
I have consulting clients across Canada and the US. They all have the same fundamental challenges around feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. They all came to me after they had the realization that this can’t be the only way to live … and not knowing how to change.
Every one of them also has a unique combination of circumstances. Their role in their organizations, family dynamics, financial situations, personality characteristics, and values all combine to make up distinct differences in how we work together.
I share many of the same approaches and tactics with all the people I work with, but with minor adjustments and variations that are unique to how they think, and what works for them in their lives.
Humans are humans, but we are also snowflakes. It’s been so neat to take what I know and share it in new ways.
You never know how something you share is going to hit
Every time I publish an article I can’t help but imagine the response it might get. It’s an incredibly vulnerable feeling to put my work out into the world and have others, strangers and friends alike, judge it.
One of the things that stuck with me from a storytelling course I took last year was the idea that once you share something with others, it is no longer solely yours. The people who consume it will look at it through the lens of their own experiences and perspectives. The way you intend for something to be taken is not necessarily the way it will be received. Being able to accept that and let my work be interpreted in whatever way the reader needs or wants has been an interesting (even difficult) mind shift.
I have received dozens of emails, texts, and social media comments saying how impactful one of my articles was when I was so sure it wasn’t worthy of a read, let alone a response. I have pieces that I was so sure would generate some kind of reaction get nothing but crickets. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to which is which.
The lesson for me is to just keep publishing and try to be generous with what I share because I never know how something is going to hit.
The end of one thing allows for the beginning of another
It’s the usual adage of when one door closes, another door opens. Or a window opens. Or in my case, a cat door.
We had our cats for a long time. Toby was 15 and Penny was 13. They had been part of and bore witness (unwittingly) to nearly all the most significant events of our adult lives. They were part of the rhythms and routines of our days and their losses have been felt keenly. Our house has felt strange and empty without them and it feels like a chapter of our lives ended with their loss.
It was just a matter of time before we adopted new kitties to start the next chapter.
We waited until we were back from our summer vacation (which took an incredible amount of restraint on my part 😅). After an obsessive amount of internet searching, research, and flip-flopping, we decided on a bonded pair. 9 months old and brother and sister. After several days and much debate, we named them Winston and Stella!
It’s been a very different experience to have two kittens after so many years with senior cats 😆. They have boundless energy! Discovering their little (or perhaps big) personalities has been a joy as we all get to know them. They have filled the emptiness in our house with their hilarious antics. They play like little maniacs and love a good snuggle, too.
It’s also been a little bittersweet. The holes left by Toby and Penny remain, but the sting of their loss is soothed a little by having new fuzzy faces to love and learn. Winston and Stella waltzed through the open cat door of our lives, ready to cause trouble and bring delight in equal measure. I’m looking forward to this new chapter with them.
I am excited to see what the next year of this adventure brings. At the very least I can be sure to have the pleasure of connecting with you lovely people, growing my following, growing myself, and many hours of snuggles and playtime with Winston and Stella.
Help me celebrate 1 year of the Every Intention Newsletter
Looking back it’s somehow simultaneously hard to believe that it has already been a year since I decided to shift to writing and consulting full time … and it’s only been a year.
To those of you who subscribed to get my newsletter in your inbox each week: THANK YOU!!!
I know how inundated you are with content each day and I want you to know how much I appreciate you including my work in what you consume. I have subscribers across the globe, in 33 countries, and I can’t tell you how unbelievable that is.
It would mean the world to me if you helped me celebrate Every Intention’s 1-year anniversary: