Sometimes when you make a big change in your life, all hell breaks loose around you.
I mean, here you are, all pumped up from your brand-new and exciting decision to…
….leave your overworked/underpaid job
….start taking better care of yourself
….clear your clutter
….start charging what you’re worth
….actually work on your creative project for 15 minutes every day
And you’re feeling so good and brave!
You feel joyful and excited and have butterflies in your stomach!
someone you love gets sick (hospital sick)
you get fired (and you were going to quit anyway, but wow…fired???!!)
your lover gets mad (ugly mad)
your house falls apart (the roof literally caves in)
And it really seems like there is no way you can possibly follow through on your new commitment to your self, your creativity and your prosperity.
It really seems like you must abandon your new decision and go back – at least for a little while – to the way things were.
But please please don’t.
You Must Keep Your Resolve — Especially When It Seems Impossible.
These Troubles Are A Kind Of A Test.
Now I’m not saying that you should ignore the sick person or leave your lover or fail to fix the house.
I’m saying you’ve got to manage these “Helena Handbasket Moments” in A NEW WAY.
Welcome to Transformation-Induced Chaos.
When you think about it, it’s no surprise there’s so much turmoil — you are changing and growing at lightening speed and you’re going to get some splashback, right?
So the secret is not to take all this chaos as a sign to revert to your old behavior.
Sam’s Slightly Counter-Intuitive Two-Fold Remedy for Transformation-Induced Chaos
The two-fold trick to managing this might seem a bit counter-intuitive:
1) Focus first on yourself and your well-being
2) Focus on the money
So for #1, make sure that you are calm, rested, fed and centered. Nothing good happens when you are running around undernourished in any sense of the word.
Take time for your art, for your spiritual work and for the things that bring you joy. In this way, you’ll be able to negotiate the pesky “circumstances” of your life. (And yes, even the IRS, the threat of divorce and the shadow of bankruptcy is just a circumstance — it’s no reason to lose your balance : )
And for #2, keep your eye on your highest-income producing activities.
Stand firm in your rate increase.
Refuse to work cheap.
Draw a firm boundary around your creative-work time each day.
Celebrate your daily successes AND keep it up!
You will be much better able to help yourself and the people in your life if you are bringing in a healthy income.
(Please note: bringing in a healthy income will not suddenly turn you into a money-grubber, a shallow, materialistic person, nor will it take away from your street cred as a “real” artist. It will simply give you the freedom to make new choices.)
So while it may seem “selfish” to be out getting new clients when your family is in crisis, it’s actually an act of compassion. You are putting your own oxygen mask on first.
And it may seem “irresponsible” to keep your meditation time each morning when your lover is so upset, but it’s actually an act of true love. You are nourishing the love within yourself so you can better share it with another.
And while others may rush to judge you and your new priorities, their criticism is just a light breeze blowing by as you walk, run, rush pellmell or stagger into your new life.
Keep your eye on your prize.
What’s the prize?
A satisfying creative life filled with love.
How to change your life without running-around-crazy-like-your-hair’s-on-fire – aka – how to stay serene and joyful while you change the world is a bit of a challenge.
But if you’re ready for the chaos and you stand firm and fight, you can find a gateway to a whole new kind of heaven.
I’ve started to look at my to-do lists (although you know I like to call them “could-do” lists because to-do feels a bit dictatorial to me and “could do” makes me feel like I’ve got options) with a new lens: money.
Those of you who’ve worked with me are familiar with my Time/Money/Inclination Worksheet, which I use all the time in my actual life and I find invaluable for prioritizing my activities. So this is sort of the the down-and-dirty version for when I’m just roughing out a quickie list. I simply put a “$” next to the items that have to do with income.
Amazing how that little additional piece of information will change the order in which I do things.
Sometimes it will move a pesky task like “Invoice Client” right up to the top of the list. But sometimes it will help me see that something that has nothing whatsoever to do with income, like that letter I want to send to an old friend, is actually much more important to me than anything else and really must be done first.
And sometimes I’m really surprised by how many income-generating items I’ve left to languish, or by how much pressure I’ve been putting on myself to complete something that doesn’t contribute financially to my life at all.
Now, of course money can’t be the only deciding factor – and knowing you it never would be – you are much too soft-hearted for that. But if you’re catching yourself complaining about not having enough money, you might have some fun solving the problem by putting a little more attention on your highest-income producing activities.
So I was doing some internal work a while ago about money. Now, as it happens, I have a pretty good relationship with money. I like money, I usually have enough, I don’t mind paying bills and since I always pay my bills on time, I have a very sexy credit score.But I couldn’t help noticing that while I always had enough money, I never had more than enough. My standard of living hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years, and I was feeling like I’d like to participate more fully in the economy; I want to buy stuff.
I took a piece of paper and started writing down all the ways I thought I was about money: thrifty, smart, easy, responsible, careful, respectful, appreciative. All well and good. But what about the opposite? What about the ways I thought I wasn’t allowed to be about money?
I started going with the idea that “what you can’t be with, runs you.” In other words, if you can’t stand the idea of being rude, then you spend your whole life in terror of rudeness, and you let your fear of rudeness make your decisions for you. But if you can admit that (sometimes) you are rude, then you can just go about your generally-polite life aware that sometimes rudeness happens, and that’s OK. (Especially if you apologize afterwards.)
So what do I think I can’t be around money? Hmmm: irresponsible, careless, profligate, reckless, wasteful, disrespectful, ungrateful… With each word I made a picture in my mind of me behaving in that way. Irresponsible? Yes, I could definitely think of a time or two that had happened. Careless? Certainly. Profligate? Well, not really, but I sort of liked the image that appeared in my mind of me just throwing money around, buying stuff without looking at the pricetag – very Auntie Mame. This was fun. Then. Then. Then I wrote down the word “thief.”
Well. Clearly a person can’t be a thief. That would just be wrong. But I was committed to my “opposites” game, so I started to think, “where in my life am I a thief?” And it came to me:
The quarter-inch of lotion in the bottle I couldn’t bring myself to throw away or replace, because there was still some left.
The freebie lipstick that was the wrong color but I kept it anyway.
The clothes in my closet that don’t fit.
The time I stole from my writing to ditz around doing nothing much at all.
Those items – the ones I was hanging on to out of a sense of “thrift” – were STEALING from me! They were stealing my time, my attention, my space, even my ability to liberally apply lotion after my morning shower!
And I was stealing my own art right from under my nose.I was the thief, stealing from myself over and over again.
I was stealing my ability to live in the moment. I was even stealing my faith in the future. I was stealing away from myself the thought that maybe, if I got rid of the junky bit of lotion or the ugly lipstick or the ill-fitting clothes, that there would still be enough to go around. That I could “splurge” on new clothes that fit the body I live in right now. I was stealing the 15 minutes a day I could be spending working on my book – which also meant stealing my integrity.
That’s what my misplace sense of thrift was really stealing: my ability to live in full integrity in this moment. Right Now.
As you are probably old enough to know: Right Now is all we have.
Right Now is the whole banana. We all have friends who have left this earth – they don’t have a Right Now anymore. (Perhaps they are in an eternal Right Now?) But we have Right Now, and we deserve to have items in our lives that suit our life Right Now.
So stop saving things “for good” – use the good silver every day.
Stop keeping clothes that don’t fit – someone else needs them.
Stop fretting – spending 10 minutes debating the relative merits of one shampoo that’s 50 cents cheaper than another shampoo is NOT the highest and best use of your time.
Stop wasting time on television shows you’ve already seen. Don’t let TV or video games be a thief.
And finally, stop pretending that you not spending the time or money on your ART that you know it needs and deserves in order to come full flower is somehow a good idea. Don’t be the thief of your own creativity.
Find the thieves in your world and give them a big hug and kiss and let them go.