It’s 3am and I’m nursing my baby in the dark, and a blog post idea pops into my head.
I’m driving to the dentist, and suddenly I have the perfect hook for my next sales email.
Suddenly the outline for the book crystallizes as I’m lying in the grass with my toddler.
Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Ideas.They’re like breathing to me.
Inhale and exhale. One idea. And then another. And then another.
Years ago, before babies and householding, when I felt like I “got paid to journal” rather than run a real business, when I got an idea I was excited about, I took action on it immediately.
I’d never even considered trying delayed idea initiation gratification.
My cycle was: Get excited about an idea. Get it started. Get excited about the next idea. Get it started. Revisit the first idea and work on it a little bit more until the next new idea comes along. Start the next one. Then start something else that feels exciting. Never finish anything.
I lived in creative chaos and couldn’t get the kind of financial traction I desired. But more than anything, I felt like there was something I was meant to be doing creatively that was just out of my reach. I was stuck in the shallows, and I just couldn’t figure out how to get past the break to go deeper.
If you know what I’m talking about, you can take a deep breath because here’s what I know:
You can be tapped into infinite, inspired creativity and complete projects effectively without getting bored.
In fact, since I broke the cycle of always starting and never finishing, my ideas have gotten richer and my creations deeper and more meaningful.
What I now know is that I was addicted to the high of initiation but that high prevented me from diving deep enough to do the work I came here to do.
Plus, since I stopped working on 10 projects at once and giving myself full permission to start new things before what I was working on was finished, miracles have occurred.
I started making significantly more money than when I was addicted to starting things and jumping around all the time, but far more importantly, I finally feel like I’m doing my work, my real work, despite having been at this writing/teaching/business gig for 8.5 years.
I used to think that if I didn’t act immediately upon a “good” idea, it would vanish, that I would be dishonoring it in some way.
I NOW KNOW THE FOLLOWING:
- Capturing an idea honors it just as well. (I use a physical notebook as well as digital notebooks in our project management software and Evernote to collect my ideas for safekeeping. I teach more about project and time management plus business and life organization for busy female entrepreneurs in my membership, Origin™, and you can get on the notification list for when we open doors again by clicking here.)
- If an idea is really that good and is really meant for you, it will come back. Sometimes I have an idea and I forget to capture it. I trust that if it’s mine, it will circle back when I have a pen and paper available.
- Just because I have an idea does not mean I need to do something about it.
- I have a connection to an infinite source of creativity, and my job in this lifetime is not to act on every single idea I have. My job is to start and finish the ones I feel called to be in co-creation with.
- Finishing projects that I’ve started gives me significantly more fuel for starting and finishing the next idea than starting and never finishing ever did. It was the temporary high that I craved, but I didn’t realize I was running on fumes.
Getting past the break to swim in the depths has required me to sharpen my powers of focus and prioritization. And it’s required me to slow down in ways that are uncomfortable at first but so delicious over time.
HERE’S WHAT I RECOMMEND TRYING IF YOU WANT TO MOVE FROM “STARTING ADDICTION” TO STEADY, POWERFUL PROGRESS THAT GETS YOU IN TOUCH WITH WORK THAT’S DEEP AND IMPACTFUL:
- Write out all of the projects you’re currently working on.
- Choose the one that lights you up the most or that feels the most important to you.
- Commit to finishing that project before you start anything new.
Bonus step: Cross anything off the list that doesn’t feel aligned, that you’re doing for someone else but you resent doing, or that you simply don’t want to do! #doless
(I get that sometimes we have to finish things because we promised we would or because they pay the rent. Get those done first so you can free up your time and energy for the one that lights you up.)
You’ll get so much traction from working on one thing until completion that you’ll have more energy than you ever had before to complete projects.
As a recovering starting addict, I invite you to join me. Getting out past the break is so worth it.
OVER TO YOU:
What’s the project that lights you up the most and/or feels most important to you? Tell me about it in the comments!
Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and mother who supports ambitious, motivated and successful women to light up the world without burning themselves out in the process. Committed to empowering women entrepreneurs to create their most successful businesses while navigating motherhood, Kate is the founder and CEO of Origin Collective, a monthly membership site where women all over the world gather to achieve more while doing less. Her first book, Money: A Love Story, has been published in 5 languages. Kate’s work has been featured by The Today Show, Yahoo! Finance, Women’s Health, Glamour, and The Huffington Post, and she’s spoken to audiences of thousands with Hay House, Wanderlust, USANA Health Sciences, and more. Kate lives with her husband and business partner, Mike, and their daughter Penelope in Maine. Find out more and receive your free copy of the 5 Simple and effective ways to get the results you want in your business at katenorthrup.com.
Image courtesy of STIL.