Tell me if you’ve ever felt like this: you begin a new project and it’s an absolute rush. You see it unfold before your eyes and each day you awake, powered by possibility and anticipation. You are rocking it.
And then, the beginning becomes the middle, and your daily activities turn from novel to commonplace. Your rush has become a push. And it’s tough to hang. The thrill has gone, my friend, and you’re left cleaning up the party residue.
It’s the day after the big launch. The week after the trade show. The month after the honeymoon. The year after you opened the new business…
Consistency has never been my strong suit. I’m great at the start – fabulous in a flurry, turned on by something new, motivated by the possibilities. But I have trouble seeing myself as a finisher. If you read my blog post six rookie mistakes that turn starters into quitters then you know that I sometimes find finishing to be an uphill battle – literally.
Here’s the really tough thing: there is no finish line in life or business.
Finishing is about continuing on. It’s about how we keep our heads together – how we continue to deliver – without the pressure of the looming deadline, the flashing red light, the impending moment of glory.
I’ve had a 26-year career in Marketing. That’s 104 quarterly plans. Probably 200 launches of some sort or another: promotions, websites, brand reveals, newsletters, charity events, all-nighters writing corporate strategic plans, trade shows and franchisee conferences, special event sales, executive planning workshops, merchandising campaigns… the list goes on and on.
And for every project there’s the rocket blast of a new beginning that works itself into the fire and frenzy of bringing something to the world, followed by a wrap up that feels like an empty, dark hole and the sad, silent question: How do I begin again?
I realize not everyone feels this way. Some folks wear consistency like a badge of honor. The very idea of feeling safe and secure in a solid routine makes the world go ‘round for them. And if you’re one of those people, I have serious admiration for you.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be taller than 5’0” – to see past the head of the person in front of me at a concert. And I’ve always wondered what it would be like to wear that shiny badge of consistency.
But along the way I realized something. It’s not my definition of myself as a serial beginner that limits me. It’s my judgment of that definition that limits me. It boxes me in. It trips me up. And I’m guessing, if you’re a chaos-chaser like me, that definition gives you a bit of rub, too.
Here’s the lesson — of absolute relief — I learned about that judgment: It’s entirely unnecessary. Wrong, even.
Because you know what? There’s a new beginning around every, single, frickin’ corner. And if I manage my life, my time, my goals, my dreams, my happiness around the idea of consistently creating and managing new beginnings, when then hell, I’m a winner.
I’m NOT inconsistent. I’m consistently starting over.
If this sounds like you, then keep reading.
HOW TO BEGIN AGAIN… AND AGAIN.
- Stop trying to fix yourself. If you’re the type who thrives on the rush, then own it. You’re not going to become someone different. I have a wonderful mentor who once told me: “Juju, you can try to shove yourself into an executive role at a place that frowns on your kind of energy, or you can go find a place that rewards it.” And she was right. And I did. If you feel broken because you’re lost in the boring mess of the middle, then you’re letting yourself off the hook too easily. The answers don’t lie in self-improvement. They lie in self-acceptance. Realize that you will likely never change – and take responsibility for turning your perceived problem into a gift.
- Find your Upper Limit Problem. If you haven’t read The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, sprint immediately to the nearest bookstore. In this book, I found myself; and I owned myself. I found the dark and dirty moment when I labeled myself as unreliable and inconsistent. And I picked up a daily mantra that is allowing me to get past that limit: “I expand in success, love and abundance every day, as I invite others to do the same.” I realized that I don’t need to be a finisher to excel. I can just plan my life, my success, my Zone of Genius, around the beginnings. And I can create new beginnings for myself, over and over again.
- Plan for the Down Days. I’m a strategist first and foremost, and I always tell my clients: “Nothing trumps strategy. Nothing.” You know the mistake we make as beginners? The lesson I have to keep learning again and again? We need to plan – in advance – for the down time in the middle. We need a proper strategy for the day after. I can’t tell you the number of days I’ve pulled the covers over my head, shattered that the party or the launch was over, shrouded in shame because I wasn’t up writing or leading or phoning or whatevering. Here’s the key: if I plan for those days in advance, then I don’t have to pull the covers over my head. I can pull them up to my chin, instead. And grab the remote. And watch a Guy Ritchie movie. I’m not hiding from the messy middle, because I planned it in advance. I’ve delegated. Or I’ve pre-written my blogs and social posts, Or I’ve started a team on a project and let them roll with it. There’s nothing wrong with coming down, as long as you plan – in advance – how you’ll show up.
- Create a Tribe. So many of us entrepreneurs see ourselves as flying solo. We believe we’re islands. I’ve got some news for you: solo business voyages are rarely completed. You need a tribe. You need a group of people you can count on. Maybe they’re subcontractors that you call in between projects. Maybe they’re accountability partners who keep you in check when you check out. Maybe you identify a VA who can answer your calls, handle your emails and post your social media while you start fresh. Maybe they’re family members who know you well – and will work with you through the flow of it all. Regardless of how you form your tribe, if you’re a serial beginner, you MUST form one. And your tribe members MUST wear that shiny badge of consistency.
- Batch Your Tasks to Create Beginnings. If you’re stuck in the day-to-day, make a list of tasks and turn them into a project. Those of us driven by deadlines do well with a challenge. Add ‘em up, lay ‘em out, and wrap ‘em up. It doesn’t have to feel like drudgery. I find I do my best work when I “batch” my days. I’ll have three or four straight days of writing, with big goals for word count, and then I’ll have a couple of administrative days, where I handle things like banking, accounting, IT tasks or organization. If you’re driven by projects, then manufacture them.
- Find Your “Hard Reset” Button. I’ll admit, I’ve had times when the down days stack up. Too many in a row and I feel like I can never pick it up again. The word salad in my head starts tossing: People know. They can see me. They think I’m unreliable. I’m doing it again… I’ve found that I hit these spots because I’ve lost my balance. And in returning to balance again and again, I’ve developed a “hard reset” practice. For me, a reset is about setting an intention, returning to my meditation practice, eating some good food, sitting in silence, creating a ritual around the next beginning, and then crafting a plan. If you can find your hard reset, and make it a ritual, you can begin pedaling from an absolute standstill, even with your bicycle pointed straight up an incline.
- Refuse to Be a Victim of the Circumstances You Create. One of the things I know about myself – and about all chaos seekers and serial beginners – is that wallowing and self-pity becomes part of the game. We create emergencies and deadlines, and then feel sorry for ourselves when the pressure hits. And even sorrier for ourselves when it’s over. If you find yourself feeling resentful or filled with pity, ask yourself what choices landed you in that spot. And put the martyr hat away. Own the choices. Once you realize that these things don’t happen to you, but rather because of you, you’ll stop searching for pity. And if you’re truly going to be a great beginner, you’ll shift that pity to gratitude. Because being thankful for the next beginning – seeing it, loving it, feeling truly fortunate to have it – will make the sensation that much sweeter.
This blog is a new beginning for me. It marks a new season of communications. A fresh start on a new series. A shiny new look before a sparkling new year.
What’s new with you? Share with me in the comments below.