How do we stay productive each day and each week while still feeling spacious with presence, delight, purpose? This comes up a lot when we discuss the process of writing your book.
“Productive” here references the quality that you’re moving forward on the projects and ideas that matter. And by “that matter” I mean the projects and ideas that light you up, that come from your own key drive (whether that’s novelty, mastery, impact, accomplishment), and that contribute in some way, great or small.
Put another way, how do we stay lit up without burning out?
When you grow wary of messages of “more” and “bigger,” you might wonder, “When is enough.” But “When is enough?” might not be the best question for some of us.
For most of us, we’re still driven to expand, create, serve. My friend and small business luminary, Charlie Gilkey notes, “We often wish to be at the top of the mountain more than we wish to take the next step to climb up it.”
Enough-land might be an enticing junction but not a tenable destination that will satisfy us for more than a few days. In fact, chasing after Enough-land during certain life stages could be as counter-productive as trying to “hack” your hours to get more stuff done.
The right kind of project can drive us in ways that getting stuff done cannot and that escaping to comfortably numb certainly cannot.
Try this: Distinguish between two kinds of projects – your immediate other-centered projects from voluntary projects. Other-centered projects we might call Responsibility Projects. These include client projects or business development projects. They can be motivating and exciting in and of themselves, but you’re driven to allot finite time and energy to them because you have a responsibility, chosen or not.
These are projects that often have well-defined deadlines with tangible stakes if they’re not met. Regardless of how excited you may be to fulfill Responsibility Projects, a good part of the drive still comes from outside of you. That’s okay, and it’s useful to distinguish.
It might be something as big as an idea for a startup venture, a brand transition, a new company initiative, or writing your book. Or it can be quieter, smaller in scale and scope. I call it a Freedom Project for a few reasons. One, it’s voluntary, at least in its inception.
You have many choices for how to allot your cognition and time and financial resources, but for numerous reasons you have volunteered to devote your attention to this project of your own choosing.
You might gain external rewards upon completing it, but what’s lighting a flame under your fanny to show up for it each week or every other week comes from a place different from responsibilities to other people.
At its inception, then, such a project is free from those responsibilities. The other reason we might call it a Freedom Project is that when you’re immersed in that project whether alone or with a few cherished collaborators you feel a curious spell of freedom.
Saint Julian Press published my poetry collection Coat Thief. There was no profit motive and no direct responsibility to anyone else that drove me to publish this book. Yet by devoting the time not just to crafting the poems and sequencing a collection over several years but also working with my publisher to finalize edits and prep for publication, I felt curiously more “free” as I fulfilled my numerous other delightful Responsibility Projects.
Does that make sense?
If tended to, a Freedom Project could light you up for the next several months or even years. It could call upon parts of you that have been sleeping for the past few years.
Such day-in, day-out voluntary attention could give your days a meaning and coherence you hunger for. If you lead a team, a Freedom Project of their making could also light them up, by the way.
A Freedom Project is an antidote to flat-out boredom. Veteran business owners and serial entrepreneurs contact me and Tracking Wonder because they’re bored. They’re either bored busy, or they’re bored plateaued with their current venture’s success. The drive came in trying to make something succeed and expand. Now that they’ve reached it, they’re looking for another challenge that lights them up.
A Freedom Project can change you from the inside-out.
Your Captivating Book
A lot of peeps in our TW Community are knocking on my door about the author’s mentorship program.
Your Captivating Book might be a Freedom Project. Your book might be part of your business growth. Writing your book might help you get clarity on your experiences, insights, wisdom. Your book might be the container for a world of fiction you must complete and launch.
More than likely, you cannot not write it.
But I know: You prioritize all of those Responsibility Projects. You get a little lost. You don’t think you’re “up to snuff.” Or it’s a different kind of book than you’ve written before. You diminish your own worth and the project’s worth because you cannot immediately see – or justify to “others – the monetary return for your efforts.
Listen, if you want someone to roll up his sleeves with you and welcome you into an intimate circle of peers who will bolster you and not drag you down, do this:
In the comments below, share a little with me about you, your book or other Freedom project, those frustrating “blocks” that you have (that we all have, by the way).