Sometimes we get the feeling that we are not accomplishing as much as we intended, or that we are not as productive as will be required to achieve our goals. I understand these feelings and believe addressing them here will be valuable to you, at least in some small way. Also, we must have gratitude for our life and celebrate the small successes we tend to overlook on most days.
Yesterday I was speaking with a man in my mentor program about productivity and accomplishing goals. He was disappointed in himself for not completing as much as he thought he should over the previous couple of weeks. Several times he made statements to the effect of “I should have done X” and “I should finish my book so I can do Y” I told him to stop “shoulding” on himself and that made him pause and laugh.
Be easy on yourself. Even though I’m all about achieving goals and maximizing productivity I also know that we must take a step back on a regular basis to evaluate our progress and check in with ourselves. As a creative, which includes anyone who is a writer, entrepreneur, involved in the performing arts, and more you have a special makeup that must be respected and acknowledged. You are in the process of creating an oeuvre that will become your legacy to the world.
I believe I have specialized knowledge in this area because I did not think of myself as a creative, or creative in any part of my life until some time after age 50, when I left the world of classroom teaching and real estate to become an online entrepreneur. My experiences in this area allow me to hone in on the exact moment when I transformed from being a part of the work force to being someone who spent time each day thinking about what I was creating before taking action to actually create whatever it was into existence.
This moment came on a summer day in 2008. The Great Recession was bearing down upon the country (United States) and overflowing into the world. Everything was askew and off balance and I was attempting to write a blog post. I closed the cover of my laptop and wrote a couple of checks for my utility bills as a way to take a break from my writing. That’s when it happened…
In my head I multiplied nine times seven and got the answer of 53! Noooo! I jumped up immediately and paced back and forth in my home office. I knew 53 was a prime number. I also knew that the answer to any number multiplied by nine would contain digits that will add up to nine. Then I stopped in my tracks and began going through my times tables, beginning with the two’s. I said them aloud and ended with “Twelve times twelve equals one hundred forty-four.”
Success. Becoming a creative and more right-brained hadn’t altered my left-brain skills. I could carry on.
While this may seem humorous in nature, the point I wish to make is that creativity and creative endeavors cannot be measured simply with black and white standards. The gray area is massive and spills out into our daily life experiences.
Now, back to setting and achieving goals, and to feeling productive with each small success we experience. While speaking with the client I mentioned earlier, I recounted a personal story from 1992, when I was going through cancer treatments in order to put everything he was feeling into perspective…
The cancer hit me hard. After several surgeries that left me weak and unfocused the treatments to save my life began. Many days my single goal was to get out of bed, get dressed, and go outside to get the newspaper. After putting myself together so I would be presentable, I’d venture outside to my front porch. Then I would gather all of my strength and walk carefully down to the end of my driveway, using my cane to steady myself. Once I was at my first destination I would bend down to pick up my newspaper, pause for a minute, and then make my way back up the driveway to go back inside the house.
The walk back seemed so much longer than the walk down even though it was the same distance. I used this time to daydream about all the wonderful things I would experience once I was finished with the treatments and had my life back on track. I thought about walking along the beach in Santa Barbara and feeling the cold ocean water splashing up and over my feet. I imagined having dinner with close friends and family members. I envisioned driving my car once again and going to the public library to search for a special book. I spoke out loud to the students who would be in my class when I could go back to work in the fall. And in my imagination I was younger and my legs were stronger and I did not need a cane to take each step.
Many days I had to sit down on the asphalt to catch my breath before getting up again and continuing my journey. My knees became raw from taking this single action time after time. And some times I was angry at no one in particular that I was in this predicament. Other times the pain was so intense the tears would roll down my cheeks and I would bite my tongue until I tasted the blood. But each day I knew I would summon the courage to make it back to the house. Goal accomplished, I would look through the paper and get back into bed, thankful for what I had done and celebrating another small success. The next day my goal was the same and it was still a challenge to complete this task for several months. If you’re being tough on yourself right now, thank God for His tender mercies and celebrate your small successes every day. Believe that you are already enough and that your stories will help others to navigate the asphalt driveway of their lives.
I’m Connie Ragen Green, an ambassador of empowerment and a person striving to have great courage each day. My work includes helping others to strive for the courage to do more of what will take them to the next level in their life and business, and to reach higher and further than they ever have before. Stretching beyond what is comfortable allows you to crash through any barriers or limiting beliefs and transforms you into a leader and a beacon of hope to those around you. Are you ready to commit to this challenge?