Every year I make time to reflect on the season – mostly focusing on North Star. What did I do right? What went wrong? What did I learn (it’s usually a lot)? I’ll do all of that here in a couple weeks when I go through my field notes, but something that has been a lot more work than I could have imagined was keeping my mindset in check. It’s something I wanted to work through before I try to be objective about this past season.
I can recall a couple times this year where I was really feeling wrung out and kicked in the teeth and asking myself “What the hell am I doing? Should I keep doing this?” … Flowers were dying. The weather was torturing me. I was coming up short in my personal life. I was losing on every front, overcommitting my time, and pushing myself when I knew that I needed to stop and recalibrate. But I didn’t. And I pulled myself through it and did alright. I can look back and see my successes and be grateful for everything I was able to learn this year. I mean, I learned so much this year that I wonder if I even knew anything at all to begin with! But boy, has my spirit been feeling drained.
I was asking myself again yesterday what on earth I was doing. Really feeling defeated and overwhelmed. Like what I had to give this year just wasn’t enough but I had given it everything I had. I don’t have anything left. So, I went to bed mad, thinking of all the things I should have done better and I woke up feeling about the same. I made some coffee and wondered why something that is usually so energizing and fulfilling to me is on the chopping block. How has this turned into such an exhausting fight? What is leading me down a path that is trying to convince me to give it up?
Lucky me, the answer is simple. I turned it into a battle. I became so laser-focused on doing as much as I could, working as hard as my body would handle, making as many promises with my time as [beyond] humanly possible, that I started losing sight of WHY I was doing it all in the first place. There are still things happening in my life outside of this that I can’t control, but as it all started to compound I began to really wear down. Any free time I had I spent outside, usually walking the dog up the mountain, trying to alleviate some of the weight I felt and catch my breath. It was nothing but working, fighting and recovering. It doesn’t help that I have a bad habit of being hard on myself and I’m fortunate to have a friend that reminds me to go easy when I’m beating myself up. Sometimes when things get hard, instead of taking a moment to reflect and figure out why, we react fast and fighting it seems like the only option.
But this morning, drinking my coffee, I remembered doing an exercise last year called 7 Levels Deep. It changed everything. The way I looked at building a business. The way I thought about how I lived my life. It helped me give purpose to what I was doing and encourage me to be intentional with how I went about doing it. I am not gung-ho and ready to go a million miles an hour or anything like that, but I have regained clarity and am feeling more grounded and trusting in my decisions.
Those of you who know me know that I’m not a podcast person. I don’t have a lot of patience. And listening to people talk without being involved in a conversation isn’t easy for me. But I’ve listened to this one twice and I encourage you to do the same. Then I hope you take the time to sit down with a friend or loved one, (or even yourself) and go through it. It’s tough – but it’s pretty cool.
I went through it again this morning and, if I’m being honest, the last thing I want to do is talk about all of it on the internet. But I’ve found that when I can open up and share some of my experiences or what I’m going through, it opens the door for others to d the same. So below is how I walked myself through it – no proof reading or even a once over. This is just straight from my notepad.
7 Levels Deep
What do I want to do?
I want to grow a successful flower farm. Simple.
1. Why do I want to grow a successful flower farm?
Because I love doing it. I feel called to it.
2. Why do I love it? What makes me feel called to it?
I’ve always felt the most purpose in creation and change. Working with nature, and through different seasons, not just winter, spring, summer, fall; but in planning, planting, growing, and harvesting, I am able to experience regular change throughout a single year.
3. Why do I feel the most purpose in creation and change?
Well…growing up my parents were divorced so naturally my brother and I were back and forth between homes. Our parents loved us, they were incredibly young and parenting at such a young age isn’t easy, and they really did well, but it’s not easy going back and forth so much and having a constantly changing schedule. There’s a lot more to it but focusing on change…I guess one of the things I could control as a kid in a constantly changing environment were my daydreams. I wasn’t much for paying too much attention and would get lost in my own world. When I learned to find ways to take some of those daydreams and draw them on paper or build forts out of sticks it brought me a lot of happiness. Being able to take something from my mind and make it tangible was something I could do anywhere.
4. Why was being able to create something from my daydreams [anywhere] so important?
Most of the time, it was all that I could do. Not literally. I could have done an endless number of different things. But this was something I had full control over. I could be on the beach writing in the sand, hiking in the mountains dreaming of a life on top of the world, and now, in a field of flowers watching what I’ve created bring more beauty into this life each day. I can do these things and take these ideas and turn them into something real. I can do it wherever I am, and it’s untouchable to the rest of the world.
5. Why is it important to have something I control that cannot be touched or taken?
Growing up, like most children, I didn’t have control over much (rightfully so). But it wasn’t just about getting what I wanted. It was hard not being able to make the decision about where I lived and when, about who my parents were with and who was part of our family, about how it would all play out. I don’t think that I should have been able to make decisions about those things and I think my parents both did their best making choices for our families. It was hard though, moving so much and not having the freedom to decide any of it – people who grow up outside of that, I don’t know if they have similar feelings, but change is hard and it’s even harder when you can’t control it.
Adding to that, in my adult life, I always just kind of went with the flow. I learned to do that, and part of me looks at it as a skill now. I can “go with the flow”, even if I’m chomping at the bit to grab an oar and paddle in the opposite direction. It has given me the gift to understand other people better and has awarded me the ability to learn to anticipate the needs of others. While I’m grateful for that, there was a time in my life that I stopped dreaming and creating and listening to my intuition and all I was really doing was traveling leisurely down a stream that brought me to the outskirts of hell – or more so, a relationship that was traumatically unsafe.
I have to talk myself through this so I understand it.
I remember the exact moment that I knew things had to change. I was in the silent eye of a storm, and it was like everything around me had completely leveled and there was nothing but me and a vision of what my future would be if I didn’t make the decision for things to change. I was almost paralyzed at the realization of how little trust I had in myself, and it felt like all the pieces I had to put back together were sticky and dripping with heartache. It took me about four years before I started to come back to myself. I had to make myself promises and keep them. I had to start practicing the creation my ideas and dreams.
I was almost paralyzed, but I forced myself through it. And a lot of the time it sucks, it’s hard, and I struggle to find gratitude. But other times I can see the big picture and take responsibility for how I am going to respond to it as I move through my life. I look at my ability to create and not only do I see how much it brought me throughout my childhood but see how important it is to me after giving it up and working to regain it. So why is it important to me to have something I can control that can’t be touched or taken? Because it took me a long time to realize that I can dream up, and work for, the life that I want. That I can make decisions and take control of my life’s path and make it as beautiful and fulfilling as I want. I didn’t know that I could design my own life and now that I do, it’s not something I’d ever give up. I wonder how many other people don’t know how much control they have over their lives.
6. Why is it important to me to design my own life?
Once I read a quote that said something along the lines of
“If you don’t design your own life, somebody will design it for you. And do you know what that have in store for you? Not much.”
Isn’t that the truth. I want to design my own life and fill it with so much love and beauty that it inspires others to do the same. I want to leave a legacy that drives people to be decisive and work hard and build lives that are fulfilling. I’m not sure if I’ll have children, but if I do I want them to always know that through the good and the bad of their lives there will always be decisions for them to make and they have to be able to make them. I want them to learn the rhythm of nature and pay attention to how things flow. More than anything though, I want them, or anyone really, to always listen to their intuition and not lose sight of it. To know what feels right, align their values with it, and then make sure their intentions, words, and actions back it up. I want them to know the freedom that comes with the feeling of defeat and how whole it can make you by accepting your losses and choosing to keep going with hope for the future.
7. Why do I feel like I need to leave this legacy for other people on how they live their lives?
Because I was called to create. I feel it. I know it. I’ve been doing it. And that calling gives me the strength to shoulder the responsibility of sharing it with others. I’m not entitled to keep it to myself even though sometimes I want to hold onto it tight to keep it safe. I think that once you know why you’re here, you’re responsible for sharing your purpose. Even when you feel dried up of resources and are overflowing with self-doubt.
You’ve gotta slow it down and remember why you’re doing it – ask yourself if any of your reasons to give up are more important than your reason for doing it in the first place. And then figure the rest out.