The Danger of Always Chasing The Ideal

I love cracking open a fresh notebook, curling up in the sun with a steaming chai latté, indie tunes in the background and words bubbling up inside me just begging to be spilled out onto the page.

It's easy to show up and do the work when conditions are ideal.
It's easy to show up and do the work when everything is going smoothly along in the right direction.
It's easy to show up and do the work when inspiration is sitting quietly, patiently beside you, filling every line and every page with a flood of fresh and fantastical ideas.

But there's a danger in getting comfortable here.  Inside this ideal picture.  Because somewhere along the way we begin to believe we need these things in order to do our work.  That we can only work in ideal conditions.

But that is a lie.

It's an excuse.  An excuse to give up when the work gets difficult, when inspiration won't sit still and the ideas fly away before you can capture them.  When half-formed sentences flung carelessly onto the page are all you can seem to muster.  It's easy to blame external factors like "working conditions", or that fickle inspiration when we become frustrated.

I'm here to tell you not to fall into that slippery, excuse-ridden hole of self-sabotage.  All it does is limit you and keep you small.

You see, the last 2 weeks I took on a huge copywriting project.  11 pages of copy + a tagline + naming 3 services (naming sh*t is hard!) to be completed in 2 weeks.  I've never done this before.  An entire website from scratch - in 2 weeks.  The only reason I thought I might be able to pull it off was because the client was a personal friend.  I'd used her service before so I already knew her business and style.  Still, for me, this was a massive project on a tight timeline.

Then the universe conspired to make this a true test of my determination, creativity and willingness to show up and do the work - no matter what.

First, my 6-year-old daughter got strep throat.  When you're a Mom and you work from home you depend on the hours your kids are in school to run your business.  Then my 3-year-old son got bronchitis.

Add in 3 snow days (if you're not from Canada, this is where the road conditions are so poor that the buses are cancelled) so that even once they were feeling better they were still stuck at home with me.  Productivity + 2 bored kids do not mix!

Finally, I succumbed to a sinus infection (2 germy kids, I was bound to get something) and a 3-day migraine.

But I still managed to write all 11 pages of copy, delivering some ahead of schedule (I'm not even sure how that happened).  At the time of writing this blog, my client has approved a tagline and reviewed 7 pages only asking for revisions on ONE! That is unheard of you guys.  To be sure, it helped that I knew her so well, but I'm still amazed.

I'm always terrified when I take on bigger projects or anything that falls under the category of "things I've never done before".  My brain immediately seems to drum up 645 reasons why it will be a complete failure.  Of course, fear isn't a problem unless you let it stop you.

Nothing in the last two weeks went smoothly.  Nothing even came remotely close to my ideal working conditions.  And all for reasons that were completely beyond my control.

But I'm pleased to learn that my creativity isn't so delicate or fragile as to depend on things like "ideal working conditions".  Sure, I'll enjoy them when they happen.  I'll see those peaceful moments curled up in the sun with music, chai and the whisper of inspiration as the beautiful gifts they are.  But I also know that I can still get the job done without them.  And I'm thrilled to learn that my talents and I?  Are much more durable and resilient than I ever thought.  And I'm betting yours are too ;)

I may have lost an excuse but I gained so much self-confidence - it's totally worth it.

PS a big shout out goes to my husband who allowed me to sneak off to a coffee shop for a few hours of uninterrupted work here and there and helped out big time with kids + house once I got sick.