If you are an academic–a scholar, a researcher, a student, a teacher–or a creative person–a writer, artist, content creator–a lot of what you produce gets pulled from within you. Or at least this is how I experience writing and lecturing and discussing and growing a small business. I use my experience of myself in the world as a springboard for ideas. I believe that my quotidian, embodied life is inseparable from my “work” in so many ways. How I relate to my body, to money (and where it comes from), to my family, to my domestic surroundings–all these things impact my ability to tap into my innate creativity and see where it takes me.
In those moments when I feel frumpy, broke, underappreciated, and surrounded by chaos, I am incapable of also seeing myself as competent, creative, and in charge of where I steer the ship. So, the easiest solution would be to make sure I don’t ever get to the point where I feel like any challenge is too much of a challenge. But how to make that happen? I think one way to keep yourself ready for challenges and failures is to keep your reserves topped up.
And by “reserves,” I mean not only your financial nest egg, but also your sense of your own capabilities and your capacity to endure the speed bumps and false starts that any project (including life) will send your way. Having reserves in an area means that when we look at an area of our life, it doesn’t immediately inspire a massive to-do list, heaps of worry, or a shame avalanche of regret. We require reserves in all sorts of different areas of our lives: our family and relationships; our career; our finances; our capacity for joy and delight; our ability to work efficiently and effectively; our responsibilities; and our self care. If, when you think about any of these areas of your life, you begin to fret, or feel like a failure, that is an alert that you need to work on building up your reserves in that area.
That might look like setting new boundaries or establishing new lines of communication in your family; examining your career and seeing where it fits you and where you are contorting yourself like a pretzel to fit it; committing to a savings and debt-reduction plan; automating some regular, but annoying tasks, or delegating them to others; and, most importantly, taking time for a walk, a stretch, a swim, a run, a good book–whatever feeds your soul.
It seems to be the case with many people, and not just with me, that when I’m running low on reserves in one area of my life, I find it a lot harder to achieve my best, or celebrate what I do achieve, in other areas. For example, when we finally set up those educational savings plans, got our life insurance sorted out, and made sure our retirement money was going where we wanted it to, it gave us the confidence, as a family, for me to begin building a coaching business. When I make regular time for exercise (yoga, ballet, walks with the dog), I feel better about my body and carry myself more confidently. This translates into better interpersonal relationships, which are the foundation not only of my friendships, but also of much of my business.
We know we are not robots and that our creative work needs a wellspring of both motivation and inspiration to fuel it. But we shouldn’t forget how our lives and our lifestyles impact what we do.
If you need help identifying where your reserves need topping up, or with strategies to fill up your tanks, email me for a free sample coaching session.