It’s been 10 days since Jim and I submitted our manuscript to our publisher for editing. We didn’t realize the amount of energy, emotions, and stress we were going through until we hit “Send.”
Since then, we’ve been wandering through our days during this “in-between time.” We are both a bit lost. We haven’t quite bounced back into a routine or refocused our energy and priorities. And that’s okay. We are giving ourselves and each other the time and grace to rest, restore, and replenish after such a huge project and accomplishment.
While we are thrilled at this major milestone on the path to publishing our first book together, we are also experiencing sadness and exhaustion. Sadness in the sense that it was an emotional journey as we dug through Jim’s past and wrote about issues he had previously dealt with and moved on from. It was a bit like opening a wound that had already healed and scarred over. The challenges and struggles of his childhood—including physical limitations, bullying, abuse, racism, and oppression—led him to seek independence, self-sufficiency, and mentors outside his family unit. His anger over the truth of his childhood ultimately led him to great success as a national champion in powerlifting but it did not bring the peace and happiness he was looking for. Anytime you write from your past and life experience it is therapeutic. And… Exhausting.
Discovering and rediscovering his true passion and purpose and seeing it laid out in the written word was a beautiful culmination and acknowledgment of how far he’s come, where he wants to go, and who he wants to be.
As we weaved in aspects of my past we found overlaps and universal truths where we could help and inspire each other as well as our readers.
Overall there is satisfaction, joy, and relief from completing this step of the book writing and publishing process, as there is from completing any project, goal, task, or dream.
I’ve completed many things in my life. I know because I keep track. I’ve lost weight, run a 5k and a marathon, ridden a century (100 miles on the bike), and completed twenty-two 16-week transformation challenges earning over $8,400 plus trips, swag, and prizes in the process. I’ve climbed a 14er, graduated from high school and college and received a Certificate of Advanced Education from Syracuse University (halfway to a Masters). I’ve developed websites, painted rooms, refinished furniture, created pottery, and planted a garden. I’ve written a book. I’ve cared for a loved one during illness and after surgery. I graduated from elementary school and kindergarten. I got a job. I quit a job. It doesn’t matter how big or small it just matters for my psyche that I’ve seen things to fruition. I’ve made commitments to finish and I’ve kept promises that I’ve made to myself.
Over the years I’ve kept track of these things by writing them down on index cards, calendars, emails, portfolios, and my website. I keep track not because I need to “toot my own horn” but every once in a while I need a reminder that I’m a badass.
And so do you.
There are also a lot of tools and self-care that go into successfully completing a project. Here are my top 10 tips for getting the most joy and satisfaction out of completing a project whether that be losing ten pounds, writing a book, raising a child, caring for a pet, running a 5k, moving, completing a work or home project or building a business.
- Build in a reward.
With any project, it helps to look forward to something after the effort is complete or along the way. It may be a special dinner or trip. It could be time with a friend or time alone. It could be a bath, or a pedicure, or a bike ride.
- Remember to play.
All work and no play make Johnny (or Jane) a dull boy. Not to mention stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Make sure you build in moments throughout your day and week to dance, enjoy nature, go for a bike ride, read a book or do something that brings you joy.
- Work backward from the end.
One of my best project management tips is to start with the end in mind. Put your deadline on a calendar and work backward, making sure you note any milestones that need to be met. Be sure to build in extra time on both ends for the unexpected.
- Chunk it into bite-size pieces.
In 2012 I had the opportunity to compete in a mini-triathlon. I loved the “chunking” that took place in my mind between the swim, bike, and run. I could focus on one smaller piece of the race instead of being overwhelmed by the entire race. The same can be done on a project or goal. Need to lose twenty pounds? Don’t think about the entire twenty. Think about a smaller chunk like 5 pounds this month, or 1 pound per week.
- Take a break to rest and recover.
Many times in my life I have pushed through to get a project done, skipping breaks, lunch hours, and workouts. This has never served me. What works better is to take a break and build in ample time for rest and recovery. Give yourself permission to take a day, an hour, or a week off and be totally unproductive. While you relish the calm and quiet you’ll find your genius, creativity, and productivity will increase exponentially.
- Manage your Energy.
While most people manage their calendar – filling up every vacant spot – I have learned to manage my energy. There are days my energy abounds and I put 6 or 8 or 10 hours into a project. And, there are days where I don’t have the physical or creative energy to put in any time at all. Some experts would advise me to write every day. I choose instead to follow my energy, knowing that some days, the energy comes simply by putting my ass in the chair and beginning to write. But on the days where it simply is not there – my creativity or energy – I don’t force it. I simply try again tomorrow.
- Know thyself.
Mornings have always been best for me in terms of energy, creativity, and writing; however, sometimes priorities change or life gets in the way. As the weather heats up in New Mexico, the best time to be outside for a bike ride or workout is in the early morning. Which leaves me writing or working later in the day. Two things I have found allow me to work when I need to are
Working Outdoors. There is something about setting up a laptop at our table out back that revitalizes me into super-productive mode.
BĒA. I’m aware of my caffeine intake and its effect on my sleep and anxiety so I do limit myself. I also make sure my caffeine is balanced with adaptogens. BĒA stands for botanical energy + adaptogens. Caffeine from green tea and less than 1 gram of sugar. 10 calories. Real, raw nutrients. 12 essential vitamins from a variety of fruits and veggies. My favorite beverage leaves me with focused energy and concentration, without the crash or other harmful side effects.
- Know Your Spokes to Self-Care.
In my first book, Come Back Strong, I wrote about the spokes on your wellness wheel in regard to what you value in life, as well as what you need. Just like on a bicycle, each individual spoke is vulnerable, but together, they all provide support for the rider. I have found that nature, quiet time, and quality time (usually on our bikes) with my husband are my non-negotiable spokes. I NEED them in my life to function. For you, your top spokes may be faith, your children, financial security or something else. Knowing what you require to feel balanced is crucial to self-care.
- Commit to finish.
It is easy to make a commitment to start a diet, train for a race, or set a goal to “one day” write a book. But when we only commit to the start, we rarely succeed. Whatever your current goal, dream, or task is, commit to the FINISH. Commit to see it through all the way to completion.
- Always keep your promises.
Especially the ones you make to yourself.
Please comment below. I’d love to hear some of your tools for self-care organization and project management.
From my blog:
- Stuff Happens: Stay Committed Anyway
- Self-Care is Self-Aware and Intentional
- The Forced Rest… Learning #SelfCare before life forces you to
- Stress, Sex, Sleep and Self-Care: The Four S’s of Health
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