Doing Enough


One of the disadvantages to being self-employed and working out of your home is that you have no timeclock to punch. It’s nice to know when your work has officially begun and when it has officially ended. The ended part is particularly appealing because there is always more you can do, always another book for an interview to read, another essay to begin, another promotional email to write. How do you know if you’ve done enough?

One afternoon I was lying in bed trying unsuccessfully to relax. The writing/coaching/teaching business I had just begun wasn’t growing as quickly as I wanted it to. I felt I was entirely to blame for this, so I lay there thinking, “I need to be doing more. I need to be doing more,” hoping that if I thought this enough times in a row, I would launch myself out of bed and into some productive, lucrative work. The problem was I had no idea what more I should be doing. I grew increasingly agitated, feeling a coil of doubt tightening in my heart.

As a coach, you sometimes actually coach yourself. This is what happened that day. Somewhere in my anxiety I noticed how bad I was feeling. I remembered that if I’m thinking something, and I’m unhappy while I’m thinking it, the opposite is often true. “What’s the opposite of ‘I should be doing more?’” I asked myself.

“I should be doing less,” I thought.

I sat up. That was it all right. It’s not that I wanted to do less work, or have fewer clients, or publish fewer books, but I wanted to rely less on my schemes and plans and labor to grow the business, and more on inspiration – those ideas that come to me from elsewhere. An inspired idea always leads me somewhere good if I think to follow it. The plans I manufacture in the coal furnace forge of my strategizing mind are like flimsy imitations of inspired ideas. They’re disappointing and dead on arrival.

So maybe I’m not self-employed after all. Writing made sense to me once I understood it as a relationship with my imagination, my Muse. My job was to make room for the ideas she provided. Most days I feel more in service to her than the other way around. Just because I call something a business does not make it any less a creative endeavor. Ideas are ideas are ideas. The Muse does not care for what they’re used. Nor does she recognize clocks of any variety. She’s always on the job, with enough inspiration for a lifetime.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.