Why having too much time can actually stifle creativity

I have so much work that needs to get done right now.

  • I am revamping my website, so I am working around the clock trying to come up with the best copy that represents me and speaks to my clients.
  • I am working on an app with my husband that requires me to write questions.
  • I am trying to get my blog off the ground again and begin sharing it with people. (If you are reading this, it means I actually did this one!)
  • I need to write new proposals for clients.
  • We have another round of Platinum Exchange starting up, so I need to work on the material and meet with my new clients.

The list goes on and on.  But the problem is, I am not a list person.  I am very much against making lists.  My mom loves it.  Whenever I get overwhelmed she starts saying, “Write it down.  Get it out of your head.”    I know, I know.  But it’s just so hard for me to do.  The trouble is, by keeping all of this in my head it makes it really difficult for me to make any forward progress.

But on Monday, I came across a different way of thinking about this whole dilemma.  I was in a coaching circle and we were discussing the topic, “How to do the things you know you should do but aren’t very good at?”  And one of the coaches recommended an article that helped him called “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. “

As soon as I read this article, it hit home.  But I had to read it three times before I really pulled something out of it that I could put into practice.

Interpretation after 1st Reading: This is interesting and it makes a lot of sense.  I guess that’s why I feel like when I have a bunch of reactionary work (responding to urgent emails, putting out fires, trekking around with the kids) in a day I don’t feel fulfilled because I wasn’t able to get any big picture (reaching out to potential clients, business strategy, self care) work accomplished which is what I really want, and need to be doing.

Interpretation after 2nd Reading: Perhaps I should create more “maker” time in my schedule so that I can do that big picture thinking.  But in the past, this really hasn’t worked for me.  If I have too much time on my hands, I feel paralyzed and do nothing.  I wander aimlessly through my day and still don’t feel fulfilled.  Or even worse, I spend the entire day doing laundry.

Interpretation after 3rd Reading: What if instead of creating more time for the Maker’s schedule, I embraced the Manager’s schedule a little more.  And that’s when the “aha” happened.  Yes!  That is exactly what I need and am already starting to do.

I have long since known that I worked really well under pressure and deadlines.  Taking action fuels me.  When I have more to do, I am actually more productive.  So why not start scheduling my time for creativity?  At first this felt like opposites, but I realized it’s actually not opposite at all and completely corresponds with Paul Graham’s manager’s theory.

And I also know how having too much time on my hands can actually create paralysis in me.  When I left my full-time job to pursue my own coaching business five years ago, I spent the first year doing a whole lot of nothing.  I had no real focus.  I would wake up each morning with nothing in my calendar and then proceed to do absolutely nothing.  I mean it wasn’t because of lack of trying.  I just couldn’t focus myself.  Plus, I had no idea really where to start.

It took me an entire year to get out of this stuck place and start actually doing the work.  It was not a fun time in my life and I don’t plan on recreating it.

So for my self-coaching experiment this week, I have started to block out time in my calendar and create real (if they are fake I can feel it and don’t actually take action) deadlines for myself.  Some examples are:

  • Scheduling writing sprints in my calendar.
  • Scheduling my design week with my web designer and working backwards from there. I also created accountability by promising my husband that I would not wait until the last minute to finish my copy (this time).
  • Signing up for a Masterclass to do the work that needs to be done to get more clients and write those proposals.
  • Brainstorming with friends and colleagues when I come up with new copy to see what actually resonates, with both them and me.
  • Not worrying about what is not getting done for my business while I am spending time with my kids. Having it locked in the schedule gives me freedom to know that the work will actually get done the next day.

I am really curious if having too much time on your hands actually stifles your creativity too and what you have done to counteract this idea?  Please let me know what you think in the comments.

All the best,

Stacy

Focusing on Values

I completed an exercise a few weeks ago where I had to share a peak experience from my life. The experience that came to mind was hiking Yosemite. Me, my husband, my brother and his wife took a weeklong backpacking trip through Tuolumne Meadows in July 2014.   I will always remember the year because it was exactly 2 months before I found out I was pregnant with my first child.   And looking back I feel like it was my last great adventure as an untethered woman.

Through the exercise we were encouraged to really think about what specifically felt so great about that experience. Some of the thoughts that came to mind were:

Resilience

My husband and I spent 6 months training for the hike. We walked several beautiful trails throughout Northern California that we never would have explored on our own. And being on the trail, butting up against obstacles tested me to the extreme. I had no choice. I always had to find a way to keep going.

Family

I accomplished this giant event with my brother. My brother has a family of his own and we don’t always get the time to connect over multiple days. It wasn’t always easy, there were a few heated moments on the trail because were exhausted. But this is also part of the bonding.

Spirituality

I have always enjoyed connecting with nature and Yosemite is one of the most majestic places on earth. There was literally one night when the moon was full and we were heading into our tents that I thought to myself, “It can’t possibly get any better than this.”

Living life to the fullest

While we were hiking we passed a distress flag on the trail. We went to see if they needed help and discovered that someone in their party had passed away over night. They all agreed that he couldn’t have died in a more perfect place, doing exactly what he loved. I believe that’s the way we should all live our lives.

Sense of humor

One morning I went to relieve myself in the woods. When I emerged from the bush where I was squatting, I saw a young couple waiting patiently for me to finish. I jumped and returned to our camp. My husband and brother were laughing hysterically. Apparently I had chosen to use the restroom in the middle of the trail. That must have been quite the sight!

After exploring my key values expressed in my story, I then took look at how I can use what I have learned or accomplished in the past to help me reach my current goals. I came up with this list of questions that I can ask myself:

What needs or desires am I trying to fulfill?
What is the main value I am trying to express?
Am I currently able to express my values and myself on a regular basis?
Can I use these core values to reaffirm my choices or decisions if I decide to make a shift?
What would I need to do differently to feel more connected to what truly matters to me?

These questions really help me gain clarity and insight, especially if I feel like something I am doing is off or not working.

Now I have a few questions for you:

What are your core values?
Do you feel like you are able to express them in your current role or situation?
What simple shift could you make this week to help you get more in line with your values?
I look forward to continuing this conversation and hearing what you have to add.

All the best,

Stacy

Making my goals more social

This week I have been thinking a lot about how I can bring more positive social interactions into my life.

A few weeks ago, I took an online course led by positive psychology professor, Barbara Fredrickson. She talked about how to bring more positive emotions into your life. And one easy way she mentioned to do this is to create more positive social interactions. This instantly resonated with me because I know from experience that the more social I am, the happier I seem to feel. Apparently research also backs up this theory, even for introverted personality types.

So this week for my self-coaching experiment, I am going to take a look at my top 5 goals for the new year and see if I can tweak them a bit to make them more social.

Goal #1 – Book more coaching clients

This feels like an easy one for me. I have already thought that the best way I can book more clients is to spread the word about what it is that I am offering. Now it’s time for me to get out of the house and start networking. I could meet with past clients to see how they’re doing. I could meet with friends and colleagues just to catch up and learn more about what they are doing these days. And I could even meet with people I don’t know very well but find interesting.

In Keith Ferazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone”, he talks about networking as relationship building. And recommends not waiting to meet with someone when you actually need something from them. So if I just look at these early interactions as getting to know and staying in touch with people I enjoy, that’s bond to lead to some pretty interesting conversations and over time, some new clients. And who knows, it could happen sooner than I expect.

Goal #2 – Book a public speaking gig

Now it makes sense that public speaking would automatically be a social endeavor. But up until this point, I have mostly only “thought” about what I would like to do rather than actually doing the work. When I created shows in New York, I would book shows before I even had them written. Comedians do this all the time, they have a gig coming up and then they cram for a week to figure out what jokes they want to tell. That fast paced, get me off my butt work ethic has always worked really well for me. The trouble with public speaking is that I am new to the industry and I don’t yet know how and where to book the gigs. But I bet there are people who do…

So I am going to figure this out. Instead of waiting until I have the perfect talk prepared, how can I actually book a public speaking gig? I have a few friends I can ask, online resources, places I can look to find out. Then once I book it, I can figure out what I will say. And chances are things will work out great.

Goal #3 – Start a blog

This feels like an easy one because I am already doing it. Well, at least I am doing some part of it. I knew that in order to write more, I would have to find some way to hold myself accountable. So I joined an online writing forum. The benefits, I have received in just the few short weeks since joining this group have been tremendous. It is strictly an accountability group. They don’t give you feedback on your writing specifically but you are encouraged to write daily and keep track of it in a log that is shared with your peers and writing coach. I am amazed at how much writing I am actually doing. And at the gentle way my coach nudges me to keep going.

The second part of this goal is to actually share my blog with the world. And that sharing is in itself a social activity. My hope is to keep writing through the encouragement of this group and then begin sharing it with you at the beginning of 2018. In fact, if you are reading this entry then it means that the sharing has begun.

Goal #4 – Exercise

Phew this is a tough one. I feel like I have been pregnant or nursing for the past 3 years. Oh wait, it’s actually been more than 3 years!!! So my body is totally different than it used to be. And a challenging sweaty yoga class just doesn’t have the same appeal to me as it used to. Now instead I crave more interaction and personal satisfaction from exercise. But taking a class with others doesn’t necessarily mean that the exercise will be social. I can take a class with people inches away and never even have a conversation. What I am craving is connection.

So I think I will sign up for a weekly yoga class called The Practice again. This is not necessarily the most physically challenging yoga class but it is an excellent way to connect with others. Each class begins with a check in and short meditation followed by a simple yoga sequence. And I believe that by spending 90 minutes each week stepping back into class, it could begin to have a positive ripple effect.

Goal #5 – Quality time with my husband

I think the biggest thing I miss since becoming a parent is the one-on-one time I used to have with my husband. Now it seems like we are dividing and conquering the children as single parents. And when we do have time together, I am so exhausted I just have to go to bed. So my goal here would be to find ways to have more quality connection again.

I know that it will be inherently social because the two of us will be connecting but I wonder if we also made it more outwardly social then it could be more sustainable? So how could we do that? We could plan outings with others. We could go to events where we need to buy tickets. But something is still missing here. I can’t quite put my finger on it. One of the great things about our relationship is how openly we are able to share thoughts and ideas with each other. So I may reach out to him for some input on this one. But I believe we can do it.

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So this feels like a pretty good plan for 2018, don’t you think?  No really, I am curious, what do you actually think?  As mentioned in goal #3, my social interactions can start here with my blog.  I would sincerely love to hear from you.

How has making your goals more social interactive helped you sustain them?
Any goals you plan to tweak to make more social?
What ideas do you have for me to spend more quality time with my husband?

I look forward to hearing from you.  And cheers to more socially interactive (and positively productive) 2018!

All the best,

Stacy

 

My Self-Coaching Experiment Week One

So today it begins…

Each week I will take what I have learned from my teachers over the years from Tony Robbins to Pema Chodron to Malcom Gladwell and begin to apply it to myself.  Why? Well, first of all I need the motivation.  Raising two children under 3 years old does not leave a lot of time for my own self improvement.  Also, I enjoy testing my assumptions. If I believe that what I am advising my clients is good advice, then I should be able to apply it to myself.

Why share?

Because I believe sharing IS part of the learning. My role as a coach is to simply share from my own experience, not to prescribe or assume that what worked for me will work in the same way for others. Plus, if I don’t share my thoughts and ideas then I am living in a vacuum. In the Shambhala meditation tradition, they call this isolation a cocoon. I think that is such a beautiful way of looking at what happens when we hide ourselves from the rest of the world. We can remain in the cocoon for pretty much forever and never break free. But then the rest of the world will never be able to experience the beautiful butterfly that is hiding just inside ready to emerge.

Ready to emerge

For me, now is the time to break free. I have recently transitioned my business so I am solely coaching and facilitating. For years, I have paired my coaching business with business administrative work. This helped to provide income but also stability, something familiar while I was stepping into the unknown coaching world. But the time in my life of doing both has passed. I can now focus on my coaching clients 100%. And that feels incredible.

I can’t do this alone

My goal for this blog to is to share what I have learned, apply it to myself, share what I learn from those experiences and get feedback from my readers along the way. I want to hear about your experiences. Which of these ideas and concepts have worked for you? Which haven’t? Which ones do you want to try? Would anyone else like to join me on this journey?

Are you in? I am.

See you next week,

Stacy

Unconditional Confidence

imageOne of the things I love about my job is that I get to pick and choose my clients. I can work on projects that really excite and energize me. And lately I’ve been helping put together an exciting Panel Discussion. It takes place on September 19th and will include 3 top male executives in Silicon Valley discussing “Men Supporting Women’s Success in Corporate America.”

YES!  You heard me right. Corporate men discussing how they can support women’s success at their companies.

Last week we had a prep call with the panelists and one of the topics that came up was the confidence gap between men and women. Why are women so afraid to assert themselves or ask for a promotion or speak up when they have ideas? The men on the call discussed ways that they can encourage women to speak up more in their companies.

They had clear examples of how they are already actively promoting women based on their qualifications. They didn’t deny that there’s still more work to be done but the fact that they are even acknowledging this openly is a great first step.

I am really excited to hear what comes out of the discussion.  <<< Click on the image to see the flier I designed for it.  And better yet, if you’re in the area, I’d love it if you could join me.

This confidence gap is talked about in greater detail in Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s book “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self Assurance—What Women Should Know”.  (Which coincidentally the Kindle version is only $1.99 right now if you want to read more about it yourself.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

I just started reading it, but it got me thinking.  I certainly have times in my life where I don’t feel confident at all:

  • Asking for Money
  • Marketing Myself
  • Feeling confident in my abilities

That’s just to name a few.  But I don’t think it was always this way…

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When I was a kid, I remember owning a T-Shirt that said “Anything Boys Can Do, Girls Can Do Better.”  And I honestly believed that.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be better than boys necessarily.  But I did believe that anything was possible.

Lately I have seen a few examples in others where this belief is exemplified.  Like with Mo’ne Davis – Superstar of the 2014 Little League World Series.

VIDEO

THIS GIRL IS AMAZING!!!

Or what about the viral YouTube video that Always feminine products created called “Like A Girl”?  This video brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

I think one of the reasons that children feel like they can accomplish anything regardless of their sex, race or economic status is because they embody the quality of Unconditional Confidence.  This concept was first introduced to me at the meditation center where I study in San Francisco, Shambhala Meditation Center.

But what is Unconditional Confidence?

It is an unwavering sense that you are good enough.

That you are not only good enough just the way you are, without the need to change anything, but that you were born that way.  It’s our inherent nature as human beings.  And because you are good enough, you have the ability to be and accomplish anything you desire, regardless of external circumstances.

Children know this feeling.  Children live by this feeling.

But at some point that feeling shifts into a place where they no longer see their friends as equals.  And instead start to notice the differences:

  • This person has more money than me
  • That person is more talented than me
  • They are better than me because they are a boy

And after years of practice, this separation becomes a part of us and that can lead to anxiety, depression and an overwhelming sense of uneasiness.

To overcome that feeling of uneasiness, we try to act out in the traditional sense of confidence.  We start to “show” others that we are confident by acting superior.  We display power over others and pretend that we can’t be hurt.

But at the end of the day, this is all just an act, a game that we are playing with ourselves and others.  When we can let the veil drop and show that we too have vulnerabilities:

  • That we are also scared
  • That we don’t really have it all figured out
  • That we are not perfect

That’s when our unconditional confidence shines through.

“Teaching a child to accept and even embrace struggle, rather than shy away from it, is a crucial step along the path toward instilling confidence. You are showing the child that it’s possible to make progress without being perfect.” – Katty Kay “The Confidence Code”

Meditation helps me see that this separation between myself and others is just an illusion.  It helps me know that no matter how low I feel, how far I have fallen off the wagon or how many people I think I have disappointed, I am still worthy enough to be a part of this world.

No matter how scared I am to ask for more money, or to market myself, or to feel confident in my abilities — I DO IT ANYWAY, regardless of the outcome.  It’s not always easy but it’s opening up to that vulnerability, that makes me a success even before I get started.

Now I would like to hear from you:

What helps you tap into your unconditional confidence? When was a time that you stepped outside of your comfort zone and did something you felt scared to do? How did it feel?

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