lessons from taking a pause
After seven years of sending monthly newsletters, in April I lost my writing mojo. The words felt clumsy and forced, I felt tired and uninspired. It's probably no accident that around the same time, I also rather boldly stated that I was embarking on writing a book about self-doubt.
So I took a break for 'just a month' and well... here we are six months later.
Running out of words is a rather scary prospect for someone who makes sense of the world thus.
I can now see that I needed a season of inhaling. Time for reflection and wondering and just being; sitting in the uncertainty of what comes next. I needed a pause.
I'm not very good at stopping (my Self-doubt archetype is the Conductor). My natural inclination is to keep 'exhaling' - producing and doing and staying in motion - that's my comfortable place. And this tendency has served me very well. But the words stopped and, for a time so did I.
Here's what I learned:
- Pausing can be terrifying. I worried that I would be forgotten, my work would become obsolete, or worse, that no one would notice. I wasn't sure how long this would last.
- Taking a break takes as long as the break takes. At first, I would tinker with my book notes and with writing ideas pretty much every day, only to find myself falling down the hole of the internet. I wanted to not be pausing, I wanted to know what to do. But I didn't. So I pretended to be working, but I was just scrolling.
- When we stop arguing with reality, things generally get easier. Once I accepted that I wasn't ready to write, I started to relax. Ideas started to take shape. I reduced my client sessions to two days a week for almost three months, I posted on social media when I felt like it, I tried to stop 'should-ing' about what needed to be done.
- We all have Sage wisdom; we know what we need. I began to dream regularly about two horses I met a couple of years ago who taught me more about building a business than any human. It felt like my sub-conscious memory was trying to reassure me it was ok to stop.
- Even when we aren't visibly growing, magic is happening in the soil (since we got our allotment, I'm all about the garden metaphors). The seeds for the next phase needs time and space to germinate. They can't be rushed, but we must never doubt that nothing is happening.
It's been seven years since I started working as a self-employed coach. I love the somewhat mystical theories around seven-year shifts and I can see that the timing for this pause was perfect (if somewhat irritating to begin with).
And just to go Full Oprah on you, one thing I know for sure, is that there are very few 'rules' we need to follow. But when it is all up to us, we can often interpret that freedom as chaos (I know I cling to certainty all the time, to feel safe and in control).
Being in some uncertainty has opened up a lot of choices. And the one that I am deffinitely feeling a big YES for, is to simplify everything.
In many ways, this pause has led to a recalibration of my work.
I spent the last nine months quietly figuring out a research project that ended up becoming the Self-doubt Archetypes quiz and my new programme: Compass.
Evan and I worked on a complete refresh of my website. While the front-end is LUSH, the back-end is so much simpler, cleaner, lighter. It feels so good.
I have also decided to simplify how I show up for you.
My newseltter Notes from the Path will be sent to subscribers twice a month, every second Friday. There will be a short essay, some links to the things around the interwebs that tickle my fancy, bonus materials and opportunities to work with me. The essay portion will be published on my website as a blog post.
If you've been receiving the Thoughtful Coaches Insider newsletter, this has now ceased but I will be including content for coaches and business owners here.
We all have Sage wisdom; we know what we need.
I've spent a lot of time over the last few months exploring this idea of an inner 'Sage' (it's one of the four Compass points).
This is the part of us that knows we can make choices based on our own preferences. That no one knows what's best for us except us. That we can figure things out whatever happens.
How do you know when you are ready for something to change?
How do you go about making changes?
Is all that choice more like freedom or more like chaos to you?
What might help you embrace the inevitable uncertainty?
Hello, I'm Sas Petherick. I'm a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster who helps thinking humans transcend self-doubt. If you'd like to receive these posts in your inbox please subscribe here (with bonus info and first notice of opportunities to work with me). PS: I totally ♥ Instagram - join me there?