To give you an idea of what I write in my monthly personal letter, I’m re-publishing here a few from my current series about working from a place of fear instead of love. Here’s the first one, written in December 2017.
I’ve been thinking about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – which we all know about by now. There’s a common fear of missing out when it comes to traveling to exciting places, going to an epic concert, keeping up with style trends, and seeing that one show everyone’s talking about.
I’ve happily pretty-well slayed that dragon, at least on most days. That’s good.
But this past month, I’ve been parked at Work FOMO.
What does it look like to do my work from a place of fear instead of love?
• It looks like saying yes to things I don’t 100% want to do. (I’m a big fan of either ‘hell yes!’ or no.)
• It looks like a sinking pit in my gut when a colleague gets accolades for her work, instead of applauding with celebration.
• It looks like panicking about money, instead of crunching numbers with a clear head.
• It looks like worrying about what my work says about my worth and identity, instead of focusing on how it impacts lives for the better.
I confess to having Work FOMO.
Working online for a decade now, I’ve witnessed and been part of the evolution of how all this works. What once worked profitably doesn’t anymore, and that’s okay. A good thing, even.
But it doesn’t mean it’s not tiring. Having to constantly keep up with trends on how people consume information is my least favorite part of this job, and I’m only getting older. I’m not sure how long I can keep up.
So it’s easy – when I come from a place of tiredness, insecurity, or yep, fear – to feel like I have to do All The Things. I know better. I do. But it’s still all too easy to hear a voice that says, “You better post more consistently on Instagram lest you become irrelevant.”
(Is it encouraging or discouraging that, ten-plus years into this, so many of us still battle this demon? Because I know I’m not alone here.)
It’s ridiculous, really, and it sounds even more ridiculous as I type this. But there it is. With all our work displayed on screens for the world to consume, scrutinize, and comment on, it’s no wonder any of us are able to stay sane at all in this business of creative content.
What to do, then?
If you’ve ever felt this, too, then I really only have one bit of advice for you, and it’s the advice I’m giving myself, post-confession:
Do what needs to be done.
Be a grownup in charge of your life, and do what it takes to work from a place of love instead of fear. Whether that’s putting up parameters so that you’re not tempted to compare your work with someone else’s, or finally quitting something you know you’ve needed to quit, do. the. work.
Here’s how it looks for me:
1. I’ve all but quit Facebook. I still post about new podcast episodes and blog posts, but from a separate app. I miss keeping up with some people there, but it’s not worth the price of my sanity and outlook on humanity.
2. I unfollowed a few particular people on Instagram. It’s nothing on them; it’s for my own well-being. It’s much easier to avoid comparison when I can’t see stuff.
3. I read Deep Work by Cal Newport, and I packed it in my bag for the upcoming holidays so I can read it again from the road. This book has changed how I work.
4. I start each morning writing a list of 3 things I’m grateful for. Instant mind-shift.
5. I go out of my way to daily, verbally or in writing, praise 3 colleagues on the work they’re doing. Another instant mind-shift.
6. I acknowledge that feeling of nervous energy, excitement-mixed-with-doubt, and apprehension to ship that thing I know I can’t not do is called RISK, and that it’s a crucial ingredient to doing good, creative work from a place of love. Instead of wishing it away, I’m learning to harness it for good. (More on this in the coming months, as I continue to learn how this works.)
7. I listen to people who have genuinely helpful feedback, but otherwise, I focus on who I want my work to reach and ignore commentary from the peanut gallery. (Easier said than done, I know.)
8. I regularly remind myself who it is, in fact, I want to reach. This is a big thing for me, actually, because it’s changed in my work this past year. This has meant my strategy’s changed, which yep, is risky. (See number 6.)
9. I arrange my time with discipline, and carve out deliberate chunks of time to do specific work based on my personal rhythms and flow. I close out everything else. (I can share more about this, if you’re interested – hit reply and let me know.)
10. I take 2-3 walks throughout the day, to think, move my body, get away from the screen, and generally remind myself what really matters.
Perhaps this list of mine is helpful for your own work… What does your list look like? After you finish this letter, take a few minutes to jot down some notes.
Speaking of #8…
This next year I’m shifting this monthly letter to be more about what you’re reading right now: what it looks like to work from a place of love. My perspective will be on what this means as a freelancer / self-employed woman / writer / entrepreneur, but I’m sure there’ll be takeaways applicable to other ways of working as well.
It’ll naturally include the overlap of parenting, self-care, travel, and music/movies/books, but the focus will be on work. Specifically, work as an outpouring of love.
If this isn’t your cup of tea, no worries—feel free to unsubscribe. But if it is, stick around… I think you’ll like it.
And if you don’t yet get this email, of if you know of someone else who’d dig this topic, send ’em here to sign up.
Happy holidays, my friend… May you settle into an unexpected, much-needed peace this season. Keep doing your good work! Here’s to 2018.