Sometimes it has to get worse.
It’s a cliche for sure, but the truth is that sometimes it just has to get worse before it gets better. This theme has been coming up for me a ton in my own life, and with both my clients and friends as well.
Life isn’t always easy, and especially with all the craziness going on in the world right now, it can be hard to just stay sane. Sometimes it’s hard to remember who we are, to remember what matters to us and the commitments we’ve made to our growth. Sometimes it all feels like a lot of effort. Too much effort, in fact.
I’m a coach. So I’ve essentially committed myself to a life where I am always growing, always reaching toward the self I know I can be, the one that is perpetually out of reach. It’s kind of the name of the game. So as soon as I expand into some larger version of myself, I start looking toward whatever is next for me, because there’s always a new horizon. It’s amazing, and I’m so grateful to be in a profession that constantly pushes me to be my best self, but it can also be exhausting.
Exhausting to always be reaching for more, which can easily turn into never being satisfied with where I currently am. There are a lot of things I could be proud of myself for right now, a lot of changes to be celebrated.
But we’re not always very good at celebrating ourselves, are we?
I, for one, have almost an aversion to it, fearful perhaps that in doing so I might let up on the reigns a little bit and slow my roll. It’s like I’m afraid that even just acknowledging my forward motion will slow it down. So I focus on what’s left to do. I focus on what’s lacking.
And don’t we all? Especially in those places where we’ve started to move forward, where we’ve made real progress toward our goals, but now we find ourselves in a bit of a backslide. I’m like that with my meditation practice right now. I was all about it in January, getting to a record of 35 days in a row or something. And then I fell off. I’m not even sure how it happened, but my guess is that it started to feel easy, automatic. It started to feel like I had that one in the bag. So I let it go one day, and then the next. And now before I know it, here I am feeling like day after day I simply don’t have enough time to get back into the routine. Not enough time to fit in a 10 minute meditation? It’s absurd and I know it, and yet here I am.
Same goes for my work schedule. Sticking to a proper schedule has been a constant struggle for me, as a self-employed person who struggles with attention and focus. Toward the end of 2019 I got really good about setting timers to keep myself in the chair for writing and other creative work, but that’s fallen away. I swore up and down that I would join the new co-working space in my neighbourhood first thing in January, and yet here I am without having done it yet.
And it’s making me crazy! This working from home every day and thinking “oh what’s the harm of throwing in a load of laundry?”, or tidying up the kitchen, or doing whatever else pulls at my attention while I really want to be working. Not to mention having doctors appointments and client calls and whatever else sprinkled haphazardly throughout my days, leaving virtually no long blocks of time to actually do deep work.
I finally got some coaching on this last week, and now I can’t wait to start with my new strict work schedule. I’m not able to start that until the end of March because of all of the things I’ve committed to between now and then, and now it feels almost unbearable to wait that long. My workdays have been like this for years now, slotting things in wherever, juggling the countless health appointments, making zero time for my writing and being vastly less productive than I know I could be.
But it had to get to this point. I’ve had to get to this point where I feel it will literally drive me insane, before I’ve been truly ready to make the changes I’ve long needed to make. It had to come to this crisis point before change could stop feeling like a “should”, and instead start feeling like a desperate WANT I simply can’t live without.
So what’s my point here, what is it I am ultimately trying to say? That change takes time. That deep change takes time, and that the path is not linear. And in the words of the ever wise and occasionally annoying Eckart Tolle:
“Evolution usually occurs in response to a crisis situation…”
So remember that. That you’re always evolving. That you haven’t failed at whatever it is you’re currently telling yourself you’ve failed at. Backsliding is part of the process of change. These low points are inherent in the overall evolution you’re making, and so often, it really does have to get worse, before it gets better.
So here’s to evolution, and to making space for our own imperfect progress,