This wasn’t the post I had planned. The one I had lined up was called “6 practical steps to falling in love with work again”. In it I was trying to write about that awful experience of losing any interest you might ever have had in the work you’re doing and wondering what the hell you’re going to do next. This happened to me over a decade a go when badly managed big organisational changes kicked the shit out of my enthusiasm for my HR career. I spent years struggling to reorient myself. I’d hoped that by talking about the practical things I’d learned along the way, I’d inspire and encourage others that there really was a way to finding and falling in love with a different kind of work.
I’d scribbled some bullet points in my spiral bound notebook, and got down to writing. But when I got to the blank Add New Post page, nothing flowed. I spent a couple of hours painfully grinding out a thousand words. It was turgid. Panic and frustration set in. How could I inspire people that it was possible to love work when I was feeling so blah about mine?
So, what does Johnny Truant have to do with this? Well, that’s just what I’m coming to. You see, completely deflated with my writing, I quit WordPress and Twittered my stuckness. No sooner had I done this than Copyblogger landed in my inbox. Johnny’s article, Confessions of a Comment Addict, immediately cheered me up. He’s such a wit and I love the way he cuts right to the chase on things. But it was the serious point in his post that really struck me: to be of service to our readers, bloggers need to confess stuff.
On the one hand Johnny’s words were laxative for my writing constipation. But, as serendipity would have it, he taught me a few lessons on doing the work I love and in loving it in the process. In the spirit of openness, I thought I’d share them.
Lesson one: I need to be engaged and present in my work
As I read back through my original post, I was aghast to find that I’d lapsed into the dry corporate bullshit I’d been trained to write when I was in HR. It was all second or third person: about “you” and “my clients”. I’d omitted completely my own life changing experiences. No wonder I wasn’t enjoying writing it – I wasn’t there!
Note to self: if I find myself struggling with any kind of work in the future, I’ll check out whether I’m really engaged with it.
Lesson Two: I need to be able to put all of myself into my work
The key reason I wasn’t in my own writing was that I was playing safe. I was avoiding saying things that are true for me in order not to offend people or have people think badly of me. I was trying to make out that my experience mirrors that idyllic experience people talk of. You know, the one where they fall out of love with one career, have a period of turmoil and searching, and then fall in love with another. Job done, life change over. But my journey has been different. I’ve been constantly changing and iterating what I do over the last ten years. Don’t get me wrong. I love that and wouldn’t have it any other way. Problem is, force-fitting me into someone else’s model for the sake of acceptance was actually leaving me out. I certainly wasn’t getting anything from that and my bet is that neither would anyone else.
Note to self: take the risk of saying what’s true for me, irrespective of whether it’s true of others or not.
Lesson Three: My work needs to be current and real
The original idea was solid in its essence and maybe one day it’ll be right to do a post with those ideas. But I’d been driven to writing it because I believed my site should have a post or two that was about doing work you love and indeed supporting people through a process of discovery. What I ended up with, however, came from paying attention to the moment and responding to it. Seeing the creativity in a couple of synchronistic events and grabbing it.
Note to self: Doing what I should do means I lose vitality and that comes across in my work.
Lesson Four: It’s okay not to be perfect
Sitting with my original post, I allowed myself to listen to the chatter that had been going on in my head as I was writing it. There was all kind of stuff about me being a new blogger and the fact that my Thesis Theme site still needs lots of work doing to it. In the aftermath of reading Johnny’s article I was able to tell myself it was okay to be a new blogger with a site in development. That this was the essence of blogging. If stuff is too polished it doesn’t convey the sense of vitality I would wish to bring to it and indeed enjoy from it.
Note to self: work in progress is just fine.
Lesson Five: It’s okay to be stuck and not know
It was a complete first for me to Tweet that I was stuck with my blog post and to allow myself space. And it was a reinforcement – the first I’ve had whilst blogging – that magical and unexpected things can happen when I allow myself not to know.
Note to self: remember how exciting it was to let this whole process reveal itself.
Lesson Six: Experiment!
If you’d asked me last Friday morning whether I’d write a post dedicated to one of the Copyblogger guys I’d have laughed at the idea. But you know the idea came and I’ve run with it. Who knows what will happen as a result? All I know is that this is me now and this is what I’m putting out there.
Note to self: no need to say more here.