Usually, by Friday mornings, I know what I want to say, why, what I hope you’ll take away from it, and what I hope you’ll do next.
I have typically settled on my initial title: I’ve mind-mapped my outline; and I’ve started an initial draft.
That wasn’t the case leading up to today’s piece. I was stuck.
I definitely had that “blank page” panic you may have experienced yourself (or heard some folks describe), struggling to answer the single most important question when it comes to writing:
The silence was deafening for me.
And I wondered, “Oh no, am I now having a creative slump, too?”
Has the summer sales slump I previously talked about morphed into a different kind of slump? This time of a creative persuasion?
I talk – in a variety of forms – for a living. Have I really run out of fresh ideas and things to say given all the things happening in the world, especially in terms of how it impacts the intersection of money, business, and life?
Change the Question
My go-to solution whenever I’m stuck is to move my body.
So, I went for a 4-mile walk. And, another question emerged:
As I pondered this question, another one emerged and seemed more apt: What am I afraid to admit – to you?
That’s when the proverbial light came on!
Not fatigued. Not burnt out. Just tired. The kind of tiredness that a few lazy four-day weekends doing very little or nothing would likely resolve. But as I look at my deadlines, the gap regarding some of my goals, and the calendar, it feels irresponsible to slow down – right now.
I haven’t run a half-marathon in quite some time. But if you’ve ever run a race of any distance, it’s like seeing the finish line and, instead of speeding up and sprinting to cross it (aka: a runner’s kick), you slow down.
To me, entering the fourth quarter is akin to seeing the finish line.
It comes with the attendant feelings of pressure to finish strong; the stress to meet your own expectations, along with the expectations of others, particularly if the stakes are high; and the fear of missing the mark.
I ask because the choices you and I make now are key to whether we cross that proverbial line as strong as we’d like.
And if you are tired, like me, that means we need to be even more vigilant about the quality of the choices and tradeoffs we make right now.
Because there are costs associated with being tired, such as a diminished ability: to focus and pay attention; to assess risk, which leads to being more risk-averse (when you probably need to be more bold); to be an innovative problem-solver (aka: creative thinker).
Change the Focus
When you think about it, regardless of the title you introduce yourself by, your ultimate title is “problem solver.” That is your main job.
At all times, your time is spent solving problems within your business (internal), whilst simultaneously helping your clients/customers solve their problems (external).
As a problem-solver for yourself and with your clients, your role is to:
- Make sure you’re defining and analyzing the real problem, not just the ones you notice at the surface;
- Acknowledge the challenges and identify potential opportunities;
- Go in search of non-conventional ideas, approaches, and sources of inspiration (simply put, get out of the cocoon of familiarity);
- Figure out how to safely experiment;
- Track the progress, not just the results;
- Create the environment where you can be agile and adapt to changes beyond your control with relative ease;
- Pay attention to the feedback you’re getting both from what is and isn’t working;
- Make certain you’re not sacrificing the long-term for the short-term and vice versa;
- Keep an eye on cashflow, sales, revenue, and profitability.
Being tired thwarts your ability to do the above…well.
In order for me to show up and give my best to my business and to my clients, I first needed to acknowledge I was tired. It was how I could begin to take the necessary steps to mitigate the negative effects of operating from a place of diminished energy.
What’s Your Crisis?
Whatever form a crisis may take, it often demands we pay attention and take some sort of action as we navigate through the situation.
But often the crisis we identify is actually a symptom of the real crisis. It’s the “real” crisis that we benefit from addressing.
In my case, I thought my crisis was writer’s block.
However, exploring this further helped me to confront the reality of being tired and realizing it wasn’t simply a by-product of needing more time to rest, relax, and read.
I was tired because I was navigating a more challenging time in my business. (This tends to zap one’s emotional and mental energy.)
I was tired because I was “stuck” in the mode of spending too much time thinking about the challenges, and too little time working to discover solutions I hadn’t tried before.
Coming into this awareness was how I was able to recalibrate and tap into the creativity and energy necessary to push through the funk and to write something that was cathartic for me. And, hopefully, that you find beneficial.
Be sure you’re using your time, energy, and resources to tackle the latter!
p.s. Now that I’ve made my deadline of writing and publishing this on schedule, I’m off to finish reading “All the Sinners Bleed,” by S.A. Cosby. If you enjoy a crime thriller, you’ll enjoy this page turner – trust me! (Reading other people’s work is another way I tackle writer’s block.)