Many times in this blog I’ve talked about how much of a roller coaster the past year or so has been for me. In a recent post I wrote this:
A little over a year ago, I made a conscious decision to leap – personally and professionally, as often as possible – trusting the net would appear. I didn’t do it because of my unflappable self-confidence or the clarity of my life vision; I didn’t (and don’t) have either. I did it because I’d become small and dependent, and I felt if I didn’t do something, I might, in some meaningful and terrible way, disappear.
A lot of wonderful things have happened to me as result of that decision. I’ve met so many people I love and admire; tried so many new things; pushed the limits of what I thought I could do and found that I am bigger than I knew. I promised myself that 2010 would be more of the same and it has been. I spend about half my time scared of what I can’t do and the other half wildly excited by the possibilities. (I’m okay with being scared. It means I’m venturing into unfamiliar territory, which is where I want to be.)
Still, while a lot of good has come out of the past year, there have been plenty of difficult times too. To the extent that my experiences might be helpful, here are three things I’ve learned about leaping.
- Say no sometimes. In 2009, I pretty much said yes to everything anyone asked me and everything I thought up myself. I tried a lot of new things. I got a lot of stuff done. I also stopped sleeping and went a little crazy. Choosing wisely where to focus my energy is a skill I’m only now starting to master (and by master I mean I’m aware the skill exists). A friend sent me this great article from Zen Habits about saying yes slowly. Sometimes if you say yes slowly enough, it magically turns into a no! How cool is that?
- Establish boundaries. I used to be shy. (“Used to be.” Like that? See what I did there?) For me, leaping meant coming out of my shell. It meant speaking up when I would normally be quiet, reaching out when I would normally withdraw, connecting (meaningfully) with people when I’d really rather just write and play with my dog. No lie, this past year has been crazy with connection – online and off, personal and professional. I have a sense of community I’ve never experienced before, and I’m a believer. The love, support, guidance, and companionship I’ve found has been simply amazing. It has also been overwhelming and messy. Boundaries, I’m learning, are good. They’re necessary. They ensure that you have space to breathe and move and relax, time to consider where you are and where you’re going. I’m still working on the how of boundaries, but I totally get they why.
- Have some idea about your landing. I don’t think you need a firm picture of your destination. In fact, I think maybe it’s better not to have that. Some of the most rewarding things I’m involved with now, I had no idea were even possible when I started this journey a year ago. But I did know some things. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to be more creative in my work and in my life. I knew I wanted to push myself, go places I hadn’t been, meet people I didn’t yet know. Even notions as vague as that have helped me recognize when I’ve strayed off course.
That’s what I’ve learned so far. What about you, any advice? Lessons learned? Personal leap stories? I’d love to hear.