Photo Credit: Valentina Muntoni
Recently I was in a 1:1 creative coaching session with a client who’d made a big leap forward creatively - away from her established professional direction and towards a fresh, exciting new chapter. But she was in what I call The Vacuum - it’s where dreams stall.
Making profound change doesn’t happen overnight. There’s often this middle territory that can be pretty uncomfortable. You’ve left one shore but you haven’t quite arrived at the next one.
Let’s break this down this step by step…
- There’s the “before.” You’ve decided that’s no longer a fit. You’re ready to move on towards what resonates - personally, creatively, professionally, whatever. Congratulations!
- You have a vision for where you’re going. This is good. You’re pretty amped.
- You’ve got a little traction but not enough to fully validate your decision. Maybe the money hasn’t started flowing yet, or the viewership of your YouTube series is still largely made up of people that know you (Hi, Mom!), or you’ve realized that you’re going to need more help / training / resources than you expected to get this project operating at full tilt.
- Instead of recognizing incremental wins or calling in more support, you start to question your judgement. Why am I doing this crazy thing?
- Cue the freefall. Welcome to The Vacuum, a strong cocktail of self-doubt and panic. The perceived safety of the old paradigm is starting to look pretty good.
Right here, this is the critical moment. Not (1) when you made the choice or (2) crafted the vision. Those are important, but frankly they’re comparatively easier. No, The Vacuum is where doubt wants to takes the wheel - and drive you right back to where you started, putting you in park. Staying the course takes grit.
Olivia and George Harrison were married for 23 years - a substantial feat, particularly as rockstar marriages go. Martin Scorcese interviewed the Beatle’s widow in his documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” and asked her about the secret to a long marriage. Her advice is applicable here: “You don't get divorced.”
Similarly, when people ask me how I’ve managed to be self-employed for over twenty years - during which time I’ve founded two companies and pivoted my ass off - the answer is really simple. You just keep going.
In the meantime, take a look around. Try to find some enjoyment in the process and reasons to celebrate. In the case of the 1:1 client I mentioned earlier, a luxury multi-national hospitality group recently requested a proposal for a permanent installation of her new style of work. When I complimented her on the news, she demured. It wasn’t real yet. Not until the proposal was accepted.
But regardless of the outcome, the request was an important data point, not something to be be minimized or skipped over. I asked, “If I told you 4 months ago that this company would be contacting you for a project on this scale would you have believed me?” No. With her “Vacuum goggles” on she wasn’t seeing that the market is already giving her valuable feedback. And it’s telling her simply: Just. Keep. Going.
If you do, eventually you’ll make it to a new destination. It might not be exactly the one you expected but you’ll be enriched by the experience. And it’s sure a lot more interesting than opting out of the adventure. Need help along the way? I’m here for you.
I hope you’ll find something in the latest Resource Round-Up below that might inspire you to seek out a new shore.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Some of your favorite Fleetwood Mac songs started as journal entries in the notebooks of Stevie Nicks. The inveterate journaler and rock-and-roll icon talks about her journey through style, spirits, and writing one of her best songs ever.
Photo credit: Legs of Steel/Red Bull Content Pool
Creativity isn’t limited to the page or canvas. Professional skier Markus Eder had a fantasy of an impossible descent that would take him across glaciers, through frozen tunnels, into a terrain park, even out of the back of a pickup truck. It made no sense. And yet he found a way to make it happen by thinking more like an artist than an athlete.
Photo Credit: Ashley Barrett
I often espouse sharing your authentic voice, even when it feels uncomfortable (maybe especially when it feels that way). In an effort to walk the talk, here’s a first person essay on finding myself disorientingly, definitively child-free. If it resonates, I wrote it for you.
Photo Credit: Luisa DÖrr
Here’s a visually compelling reminder on how to make a statement that is truest to your nature. These Bolivian Skateboarders lean into their native style to battle discrimination on and off the board.