WDS 2012 madness has begun, and this year it looks like while it’s going to be double the size of attendees, it’s going to have quadruple the magnitude.
I attended last year, and had a flat-out great time, even though large events with a lot of people are not typically my kind of “scene.”
There were three things that I was practicing, consciously, that contributed to my having a great time, and in this video, I cover each–and inadvertently give you a bit of a picture of what this weekend will be like.
Video time: 5 minutes
Before you got anywhere near your computer this morning, you probably executed a series of routines that you use every single morning as you’re going through the process of waking up.
Everything from how you turn off your alarm clock and how much time you give yourself to wake up before moving out of bed was probably couched in some semblance of a routine. Maybe even firing up your computer at a certain time, and hitting certain blogs in a certain order, is part of that routine. And why not? Routines are what make the world go round–or so we’re taught from an early age.
–Or maybe not. The idea that everyone needs routines and that they are critical to success is one of those things that is pimped as a Whole Truth when in fact, it is only a half-truth.
It’s a kind-of, somewhat-useful, good to hold onto in a pinch kind of truth. It’s a modify as necessary truth, but many of us treat it like it’s the holy grail of truths, and when we set our minds to doing something and then that something doesn’t happen, we blame it on “lack of discipline” or “lack of routine.”
There’s a different way of looking at routine that could be embraced.
First, blaming a “lack of” routine when some new lifestyle change isn’t a “go” is a way of circumventing our inner wisdom. For example, we don’t ditch exercise routines because of lack of discipline or routine.
We ditch it because somewhere, deep inside, we just don’t want to do it yet. Can we just keep it that simple, and that honest? There’s a lot of lovely juice that we could look at there, if we risked being tender with ourselves and owning that.
What if, the next time you bailed on something, you took a powerful step towards owning your process, not being ready to make a change, forgiving yourself for any shaming and shoulding, and then looked at the wiser pearl of: “Why am I not yet ready to make this change? What Stories do I have around who I’d ‘have to’ be if I did this? What’s my fear?”
Blaming the routine can be the booby prize that maintains an illusion that will only re-execute itself, next time. When we attack discipline and routines instead of navigating our internal landscape clearly, we miss the point entirely.
Routines are only really useful if they’re used at the right time. For instance, I find routines really helpful when I have Resistance to something. Let’s say I tell myself I’m going to be more regular about my writing practice. The Resistance comes up, but it’s not so strong that I’ll quit (if it was, I’d refer back to looking at the “Why am I not yet ready to make this change?” question). The routine is what will get me going each day, and start to make it a habit that I will simply do because it’s routine.
But–and this varies by individual–for me, a long-term routine around writing is a recipe for disaster. How many times have I told myself I’d have a “regular writing practice” and then got into it for a few months and then quit? More times than I can count.
It took me years to figure out that the routine itself was killing the creative endeavour. The routine itself was this thing that helped me get out of the starting gate, but it had lived past its expiration date. Routines that live past their expiration date are just as icky to have around as expired milk.
The next question: When do routines serve you, and when do they not?
I’m not going to lay out the “Follow these three simple steps” deal. People’s reactions and experiences with routines are highly individual. There are some of you reading this who will think that this way of looking at routines differently is like their first taste of freedom from a lifetime of being told they were doing it “wrong.”
And– There are some people who love routines, who use them as a wonderfully grounding practice that help to live more fulfilled lives.
An excess of routines does not function in a fulfilling way in my life. If that’s you, then there’s a lovely middle ground that myself and many others can take where routines are like this tool that has a sticker on it that says:
ONLY USE WHEN NECESSARY.
“I’m just trusting the process,” someone says–and maybe “someone” was you, recently.
So how do we know when that’s true–when you’re trusting the process, and you’re grounded in that, versus when you’re toting the line, but it’s really a cop-out, an excuse to not move until you feel no fear (a futile exercise)?
The Little, Niggling Feeling
“I’m trusting the process,” you say to people who are asking you about the business you just started, your difficult relationship that’s on the rocks, the health crisis that just came up.
And somewhere, deep inside? There’s a little niggling feeling as if you just lied. You aspire for that statement to be true, yet you know it’s not.
Complicating matters might be an inner critic chorus: “Trusting the process is bullshit; it’s an excuse. Let’s see action–now!”
You want to “trust the process,” yet some part of you–as weeks, perhaps even years–start to knit themselves together, you wonder.
Wouldn’t I have seen a result, by now?
Shouldn’t something have changed, by now?
If trusting the process really worked, wouldn’t it be different, by now?
Waiting For Fearlessness
When Inner Critics aren’t running amok, there can be a flip-side of either stubbornly staying the course, because that’s what “trusting the process” is supposed to mean–or not starting at all, because you’re waiting to “feel right” before making a move.
People who wait for things to ‘feel right’ before they make a move spend a lot of time waiting. And waiting. Waiting for an absence of fear and then call that “trusting the process” is trying to avoid feeling fear, a futile effort. People who rigidly attach to how it’s “supposed to look” may or may not get what they want–though they’ll definitely have less fun along the way.
And perhaps you’re vacillating between all three:
Door #1: Inner Critic tells you not to trust the process, to just MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Door #2: You’re “trusting the process” by waiting for it to “feel right,” and not in a way that has ease and flow–deep down, you know that you’re resisting taking action.
Door #3: You’re “trusting the process” by refusing to move off of a planned course, even though you aren’t seeing the results you want.
Let’s just be frank. All of these options suck.
Truly Trusting the Process
When I’m trusting, I’m not attaching to outcomes, which means that I’m not in a state of anxiety.
The person whose Inner Critic is driving them to act is not trusting the process. They’re trying to bend the world to their will.
The person who is waiting for it to “feel right” (aka, not feel any fear) before taking action is not trusting the process–they’re trying to control the process.
The person who is rigidly sticking to a goal is not trusting the process, they’re living in scarcity, thinking that whatever they have planned for themselves is as good as it gets, so they’re not opening to the possibility that with ease and flow, a bigger and better game could be played.
“Trust the process” is about trusting that any time something is born, there’s a process to it that gets acted out, and some parts of that process proceed more cleanly than others. It’s the mantra of remembering that lives don’t shift in neat, clean, 1-2-3 step plans. It’s a surrender of all pre-determined attachments, a surrender of the rigidity that it must look a certain way.
The beautiful thing about this sort of surrender is that when it happens, a great wide expanse of fear-less-ness (fearing less) opens up.
Whether or not the business succeeds becomes less important–because trusting the process gets you curious about who you are and who you’re choosing to be as life unfolds in its own perfect way. Whether or not the relationship succeeds becomes less important–because trusting the process gets you curious about what there is to learn.
Really, to even use a word like “succeed” is strange in this context. How can anything “fail” if your entire mental mindset is one of excitement and curiosity, to see what’s next?
Trust that there’s some value in seeing what comes your way as opportunity, not disaster. Trust that it’s okay when the messy parts show up–no one is getting a “get out of jail, free” card here, even the people who look like they “have it all together.”
And, by the way, I’m not suggesting that trusting the process is about uber-conceptualizing pain, trying to rush to turn pain into some kind of life lesson. Sometimes life fucking hurts.
Trust in that process–the “life fucking hurts” process–as well. There’s gold for you there, too.