Do you know the difference between a finished and unfinished project? I can tell you in one word. Staying.
I know that seems rather obvious. If we throw up our hands and quit, whatever we are writing or doing just doesn’t happen. But it’s even deeper than that. Author Leo Babuta says that the key to mastering and finishing things can all be summed up in what he calls “Learning to be comfortable with discomfort.”
If we run every time something gets a little hard, what we leave behind is a wake of unfinished novels, plans, dreams. Then, instead of that feeling of achievement and elation, we are stuck with the frustration and disappointment of yet another broken promise to ourselves.
The question is, how do we learn to “stay” when everything in us wants to run?
The other day I was camped out on the back patio with an article deadline and a glass of iced tea. Instead of a straight shot from the beginning of the piece to the end, I was finding myself caught up in seemingly a hundred different idea tributaries, each one leading a different direction. I felt like I was blindfolded and being spun around as I tried to “pin the tail” on the concept for my piece.
What I first found was that I had a limitless number of creative ways to escape the discomfort. There was the slack jawed staring into space and daydreaming about a completely different topic. Then there was the instant craving for hummus and crackers that had the urgency of a 3 alarm fire. Also, the thought that I should switch over to research mode — Google was singing her siren song, and I was almost ready to respond.
The next temptation was a sneaky one. I started following the trail of thinking that told me “wasn’t I supposed to follow my bliss, anyway?” “Go do what brings you joy,” this voice said. And while I wholeheartedly believe in that, I also am finding that following bliss is more of a tuning in and being willing to change directions when you are doing something that doesn’t serve you; it’s not a knee jerk reaction of stomping off when things aren’t going your way.
As I sat, I watched the fear flicker though my mind that I wouldn’t find the meat of my article, and then I consciously let the thought float away. I breathed into the tenseness building between my shoulder blades. I felt my heart beating a little faster, and still I stayed. And as I patiently waited with myself, the article’s deeper truth seemed to float in. I began to type and before long, I was finished.
Like the yoga stretch, if we can just hold it for a little longer, we get the release. Writing is no different. It’s not about being the most colorful writer, or the fastest or even the most intelligent. It’s about having compassion for our wandering minds and bringing them back home, again and again, as we greet what we’d rather avoid… and move across the finish line.
I’d love to hear your comments on the article, what pearls you notice when you begin reflecting. Please share your thoughts below in the Reply box …
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As founder of Backyard Pearls, LLC, Carolyn Scarborough helps people tap into their inner wisdom and express it in the world through writing, entrepreneurial creativity or simply being a creator in living your life.
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