The spiral of clarity

I’ve had this idea on my mind lately that I want to share with you.

(It’s a little hard to explain, but I’ve done my best and I’d love to talk with you about it if you have ideas for clarifying or expanding it!)

I’ve been seeing the ways we move through our life and work as traveling along the path of the spiral. We go ever deeper as we grow and learn and interact with the world and ourselves.

But a spiral implies the existence of a stopping point, a single center. And I don’t necessarily believe in that.

So I started writing about it. And as I tried to explain what I meant, and the inherent issues that come along with the idea of a spiral, I got into the weeds. I was stuck.

After walking away and coming back to the piece (something I always recommend!), I realized that I was bumping up against a discussion of spiritual beliefs, which isn’t particularly what I want to talk about.

So let’s just agree that we all have a different version of what it looks like to move through the world, and our own version of what we’re moving toward (if anything).

Then let’s also agree that this piece of writing is using the concept of a spiral to discuss the path we’re on, not the destination.

Deal?

Ok, whew.

The idea of a spiral came to me because I was thinking about how we often set aside ideas or offerings or ways of working, thinking Well, I’m done with that—only to pick them up again later, or to pull pieces out of the idea to blend with the work we’re doing now.

In my mind (which loves a visual way to think about things), I saw us walking along in a spiral, setting things down as we take in and respond to new ideas. Then I saw us walking past that spot where we’d set something down, having completed a full lap around the spiral. The thing we cast off is still there, and since the walls of the spiral aren't impermeable, we can reach over and examine it, picking up what we’d like to take with us and leaving behind what still doesn’t serve us.

And as we continue the cycle of putting things down, reexamining them, and blending together all our thoughts and ideas, we refine our vision of who we are, what we do, who we can help, why we do this work, and more.

It’s like a spiral of clarity.

Why has this been on my mind?

Since starting my business a few years ago, I’ve worked mostly with content.

I began as a copy editor, but I found that I kept wanting to be involved earlier and earlier in the writing process. I felt that if I could work with writers to help them get clear on their mission and message before they put pen to paper (or, you know, fingers to keyboard), they could create a more meaningful piece of writing from the very beginning.

So I shifted into content coaching, (mostly) setting down editing work.

And then we had a baby…and my capacity for client work shifted drastically.

At the same time, I saw that I wanted to make a different kind of impact with the work I was doing (I hear this happens to a lot of new parents). It’d been hovering around the edges for a while, showing up in my writing and how I spent my free time. I was thinking about and wanting to work with personal growth, trusting yourself, doing what works for you, using a different kind of writing to access your inner self, and doing the behind-the-scenes work to create what I thought of at the time as a stronger self.

So I moved around the spiral some more, eventually setting down content work altogether.

Or so I thought.

Recently, as I continued my journey around the spiral (and my quest to put into words and action the impact I long to make with my work), I reached the spot where I’d lovingly but firmly set down the idea of content work.

And to my surprise, I picked it back up. But as I said before, only parts of it—the parts that felt relevant.

With distance, I was able to see which parts of my work and ideas around content blended with the new ideas and experiences and dreams I had gathered during my last trip around the spiral.

And that leads us to today.

My current understanding of the work I’m meant to do is this:

I believe that when you have strong, supportive tools and practices to ground you, you free up space to create positive change in—and through—your life and work. I help conscious creatives make space for the important but often overlooked work (of developing these tools and practices) that can make all the difference in their life and work.

This encompasses all that I’ve been offering these last few months—Explore (a program that helps you test out an intentional writing habit), Stay Unstuck (a guide to help you prepare for the inevitability of being stuck), and Stronger Month by Month (a way to focus on a single positive change at one time).

But it also encompasses two new ways to work with me: Core Message Coaching and Content Collaboration.

Here’s a snapshot of each:

Core Message Coaching

Here, you share all the things swirling around in your head about your business and the impact you want to make (or a big project you want to create). I pull all these ideas together into a core message, along with other elements like supporting messages, manifesto or core beliefs, and more (what each person needs will be different!).

This forms a simple-but-powerful (and easily updated) internal document that can help keep you on track, help you make better-informed decisions in your business, and serve as a foundation for meaningful content and conversations as you move forward with your business.

You'll also get a guide to help you use and update this document as you move around your own spiral!

Content Collaboration

I’m a blend of content coach, copywriter, and nitty-gritty editor (yep, we're talking spelling and commas and all that good stuff). And I'd love to collaborate with you to create content that feels meaningful to you and to those you want to help!

We can work together to map out your plan for bigger pieces of content (an ebook, a course, a workshop, a series of emails, and so on) and then act as a team to get the work written, edited, and ready to be presented to those who need to hear your message.

The bottom line? We’ll each bring our talents to the table to get this work done!

This is where I am right now on my journey around the spiral.

I want to help all of us develop and use these sorts of strong foundations (habits, routines, documents, processes, the ability and willingness to ask for help) to create the positive change we crave in—and through—our work and life.

This has been a long one, so I’ll sign off now. But I’d love to continue the conversation by email or on Instagram if you’d like!

And if you’re interested in working together, let me know by reaching out. I'd love to hear from you!

With much love,
As always,
Erica


Want to get posts in your inbox? Sign up below!

Integrating information into our lives (part three)

In the past week, we’ve been exploring ways to integrate information we consume (like books, classes, podcasts, and more) into our lives.

I’ve been sharing this series in honor of my friends (Emily and Kathleen of the Being Boss podcast), who launched an incredible book last week!

Here’s the lowdown in case you’re just joining in: I’ve developed a method I’m calling Gather, Connect, Live to help us get what we learn out of our head and into our lives.

(If you missed the first two posts, here are the links to the first step, Gather, and the second step, Connect. You’ll want to read those first.)

Now let’s dive into the finale of this three-part method!

GCL Part 3 — LIVE

The Connect step was a big one—all about breaking the pattern so many of us have of consuming lots of information…but not really doing anything with it.

And this week, we’re going to break yet another pattern. One of not taking action.

Eep!

It can seem pretty simple to choose action steps. I’ll do this, and this, and this, and whee! But following through can be...a little harder. We all have a lot happening in our lives, and adding more can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Now’s a good time to stop, breathe, and remind yourself that a) you are doing this process because you want to bring positive change into your life, and that b) change takes time…but also work. And this? This is the work.

So here are some ways you can support yourself in bringing your action steps to life!

Make room and remind yourself.
If you decided to take a step like get a book from the library, ask someone for help, or write more about an idea or concept that came up for you, schedule time to do it—just as you would a yoga class or massage appointment or…you know…dentist appointments.

I recommend setting up a reminder as well. You could use your calendar’s reminder setting, the reminder app on your phone, or some other app that will email you or put a reminder on your phone when it’s time to do something (I really like Alarmed for this; it’s simple but effective for me).

If you decided to take a step like create an affirmation to review daily, start a new daily practice, or begin a new habit, I recommend you do something very similar. Choose the time of day you’d like to complete this practice and enter it onto your calendar, or simply add it as an all-day event. This will let you set a reminder for yourself each day to complete your practice.

You can also put up a physical reminder in your space. Putting a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, beside your desk, or on a kitchen cabinet is a classic. You could also create a vision board to remind you of why this practice is important to you. Seeing a visual reminder in your space will help keep this action step top of mind. (Note that I recommend moving your reminder around, maybe once a week or so—otherwise, it becomes part of the scenery and it won’t have the same impact.)

Of course, there are tons of apps for your phone that will prompt you to complete a habit, let you track your progress, and more. Or you can use a paper habit tracker; if you search for printable versions on Etsy, you’ll find a ton of them. It can take a little trial and error, but find what works for you and you’ll be well on your way to adding new practices into your life!

Team up.
Another strategy that works well for many people is finding an accountability partner. This person doesn’t have to be doing the same thing you are, but it’s helpful if the frequency is the same—that you’re both committing to doing something each day, each week, and so on. Knowing someone will be checking in on you can be a real motivation (especially if you’re an Obliger; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Gretchen Rubin’s concept of the four habit tendencies!).

Try an experiment.
When working on a new habit or practice, I recommend looking at it as an experiment. When you simply say to yourself, I’m going to start meditating daily, there’s an implied forever tacked on the end of that sentence that can feel really, really scary in your subconscious. Forever is a long time, and that leaves a lot of room for failure and not a lot of room for change.

Instead, try saying to yourself I’m going to meditate ten minutes a day for the next week and then re-evaluate.

I’m guessing just reading that made you feel relieved. You’ve set an end point: a week from today. And you’ve set a next action: re-evaluate. All that’s left to do is try your best to meditate each day. If it doesn’t work out, you can examine why and try again!

Be realistic.
You can only do so much in one day, week, or month. Be realistic about what you’re capable of, rather than trying to cram in all your action steps today (ahem…talking to myself here just as much as any of you!).

The point I’m making here is that deciding to take action isn’t enough. You also have to make it as easy as possible for yourself to take that action. Breaking old patterns (in this case, the pattern of not taking action on what you learn) is tough. Do what you can to keep your action steps top of mind and actually make progress!

I want to end by saying I’ve loved sharing this series with you. I have a lot of ideas about ways to encourage all of us to get the things we learn out of our heads and into our lives, so expect to hear more about this concept in the future!

Note: I’m considering creating a guide out of this series, with some supporting worksheets to help you take action. I’d love to hear from you if this is something you’d like to see!

And if you’ve used this process, or have more questions, I’d love to hear from you as well.

Cheers to getting out of our heads and into our lives!

With much love,
Erica


P.S. I'm sharing this series in honor of my friends, Kathleen and Emily, who launched a book this week! Being Boss: Take control of your work & live life on your own terms is now out in the world, and it's incredibly beautiful. I can already tell how much of an impact it's going to have on my own work and life.

I plan to apply the exact tactics you’re reading about in this series as I read the book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

PosteronDoor.jpg

Also: If you did end up buying the Being Boss book, I know they’d love for you to leave a rating and review on Amazon! It really helps to have ratings in the first week of a book’s publication, so if you are enjoying it thus far, consider helping Emily and Kathleen make an even bigger impact with their wisdom.

Integrating information into our lives (part two)

This week, we’re talking about how to integrate the information we consume into our lives, in honor of my friends (Emily and Kathleen of the Being Boss podcast) launching a book!

I’ve developed a method I’m calling Gather, Connect, Live. Two days ago, we talked about the first step: gather. (If you missed it, you can catch up right here.) Today, we’re on to the next one: connect. Let’s jump right in!

GCL Part 2 — CONNECT

 

At this point in the process, you’ve taken notes, done the exercises, and written down all your impressions.

Time to move on to the next book / class / workshop / whatever…right?

Sorry, but no. You can uncross your fingers—it’s not time yet. There’s more work to do.

In this step, you’ll review all your notes and look for patterns, make connections, and identify action steps to take next. Your aim is to figure out what's important to you and what you'd like to bring into your life and work!

Here's the process:

First, review your notes. As you do…

Write down anything else that strikes you.
Reading your notes as a whole will help you see the big picture (especially if you took notes over several sessions about a book or during a weekend retreat). As you take in all that you wrote down, add anything else that comes to mind.

Make note of what stands out.
Circle or underline anything that surprises you, feels overwhelmingly true, or otherwise moves you in some way. On a separate page or sheet of paper, make notes and lists about ideas or words or phrases that come up again and again, patterns you notice, and connections you make.

Take your time.
This step will probably take a little while, especially if you took a lot of notes. Go through them more than once if needed, or even walk away and come back if you feel a bit of space would help you out.

(I know. We live in a world in which we want to—and in fact, are encouraged and pushed to—move quickly. But you’ve invested time in reading or listening to or experiencing something. Why did you do that if you didn’t want to then bring the ideas into your life? This process can help you do that, but you have to put in the effort. I know this feels laborious, but I truly believe it will pay off.)

Then decide what you want to do with this information and choose action steps.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with your notes, it’s time to make some decisions. This all comes down to one big question:

How do you want to bring the information and ideas from your notes into your life?

This is where things can get a little overwhelming, especially if you read a book or attended a workshop—there’s a lot going on in your notes at this point.

But instead of giving up, it’s time to get specific and make a list of action steps to take. Review your notes one more time, and write down any action step that come to mind—don’t worry about how or when you’ll do them at this point; just get them down on paper.

Here are some example steps:

  • Create an affirmation to review daily.
  • Begin a new habit.
  • Make a phone call or send an email.
  • Schedule time for self-care.
  • Contact a therapist or counselor.
  • Sign up for a yoga class.
  • Order a book from the library.
  • Start a new practice.
  • Write more about an idea or concept that came up.
  • Ask someone to talk with you about what you discovered.
  • Work on how to let go of an old fear, doubt, or pattern that keeps cropping up.

There are so many possibilities and none are wrong. The point here is simply to decide how you  could use the information you took in (both from the material and from yourself!), rather than letting it languish on the page.

Now this week’s instructions might be shorter, but make sure you really do the work on this step. It’s where you move from consuming to integrating, and it’s the part that may feel hardest to many of us—because it’s where we’re breaking an old pattern. Instead of just moving on, maybe using 1% of what we read or learned, we’re digging deeper and trying to bring real change into our lives.

Be gentle with yourself, but also remember why you’re doing this!

Next time, in the conclusion of this series, we’ll talk about how to take those action steps—because there’s often a wide gulf between setting an action step and taking one.

Until then,
With much love,
Erica


P.S. I'm sharing this series in honor of my friends, Kathleen and Emily, who launched a book this week! Being Boss: Take control of your work & live life on your own terms is now out in the world, and it's incredibly beautiful. I can already tell how much of an impact it's going to have on my own work and life.

I plan to apply the exact tactics you’re reading about in this series as I read the book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

BeingBossBook.jpg

Also: If you did end up buying the Being Boss book, I know they’d love for you to leave a rating and review on Amazon! It really helps to have ratings in the first week of a book’s publication, so if you are enjoying it thus far, consider helping Emily and Kathleen make an even bigger impact with their wisdom.


P.P.S. Want to get the next two installments of this series in your email inbox? Sign up below! You'll get weekly-ish emails from me, as well as instant access to a library of worksheets I think you'll find really helpful.