The first step to moving forward is to learn to trust life and figure out which journey you are on.
Now, I know that sounds pretty basic. However, if you are anything like me, you might be surprised at how often you think you are on one path and then—Nope. You find you are actually on another.
Here is an example: earlier this year, I decided to get in shape. I stepped on the scale to find I was heavier than I had ever been. The extra inches around my belly (and everywhere else, to be honest) belied the notion of ‘muscle gain.’
So, I got myself a personal trainer. I figured if I spent the money, I would be motivated. Then, I went to four out of the ten sessions before quitting. The trainer was working me hard and I balked. Does this sound familiar? I bet you can apply this situation to several of the goals you have had.
Here is how I realized the problem was that I didn’t trust life, and wasn’t even able to actually recognize the journey I was on.
Question your journey to move forward confidently
Even though I quit, I still wanted to ‘get into shape.’ I had always prided myself on being strong, lean, and fit. However, I was too tired to work out. My evenings were spent in what felt like a well-deserved rest on the couch, binging on TV shows.
The cat became my evening companion. I drank red wine and ate nuts. Maybe I consumed an apple for dinner. Cooking required more energy than I possessed.
So, what was going on? It slowly dawned on me over the next few months as I attempted over and over to ‘get back in shape’ that I was on another journey.
Be ready for the answers
I am a documentary filmmaker. A year ago, I finished making A Small Good Thing, a film that asks ‘what makes a good life?’ This film follows six people as they change their lives to live with a closer connection to their community, nature, and to their purpose.
The film has been a labor of love. It took three years to make, during which, I had to learn to hold on to my vision in the face of enormous self-doubt and contention. People in the industry questioned the manner in which I worked. Even the stories and themes of the film were criticized.
After much struggle on the set, I let go of one of my team. He was a friend and has still not forgiven me. Then, a year later, I let go of two other key players. This sent me on a downward spiral, one where I wondered if I even knew how to make a film.
I closed down the production and spent some time away by myself. After four months, I realized that the film did need to be made and I was the one to do it. I found some good people to work with and the film is finished.
Discover the root cause of your struggles
A Small Good Thing went out into the world on the Festival Circuit last spring. The reception from audiences was good. We won some awards. The critics liked us.
Despite this good news though, the film was not sold for distribution.
Now, this is not uncommon for independent films. My new team and I decided we would set off on a self-distribution course.
The problem was that I did not want to distribute the film myself. I was tired and wanted a break. Beyond that, I was resentful that no one wanted to purchase the film. Despite knowing better, I felt personally rejected. Maybe the film was not good.
Trust in life’s revelations when you dig deep
So, I was hurt. Angry. And yet, I knew better. Many good films have trouble finding their audiences. Still, I fought with myself about doing this work. I did not even have to do so much work as I had a brilliant team who managed well.
I hated that I was angry. Hated myself for not ‘bucking up.’ For not getting on with things. So, this inner conflict set me on a course of comfort eating and watching TV shows. There, within the fiction of television, everything worked out in the end. Binging TV late at night also meant I had problems sleeping.
I was worn out.
I was on a journey of depression and self-deprecation that led to self-discovery
On a quiet retreat, it occurred to me I have to learn to be kinder to myself. I was feeling hurt by the lack of sales. Well…that was okay, but I needed to acknowledge the reality of this feeling. Cry. Grieve. Complain. Then, do the work of getting the film out or quit.
Nobody was forcing me to make movies….
So, I found I was on the journey of self-discovery. The journey for me is—how do you do the work you feel called to do when you’re not sure anybody cares? And what I found was that I could not let this film disappear after a few screenings and Festivals.
The film needs to be seen, just like I knew it needed to be made. It contains a message of renewal and courage that people want. I want that message.
So, I am learning to get out of my own way, put the self–doubt and anger to rest, and to embrace this part of the journey.
And, I have begun to exercise again. Slowly at first, then being me, I went too hard and could hardly walk. Remember to be kind to yourself! Know your limits. I am still learning.
Take good care of yourself and the rest will come
I have re-discovered the best reason to exercise and eat well: taking good care of myself gives me the strength to do this work. Otherwise, I lose my curiosity about the world. And, A Small Good Thing deserves a chance. It is not about me. Whether folks recognize that I made a good movie or not does not matter. It is about the film.
So, my brilliant team (who go about promoting and blogging and writing emails to engage new audiences despite my slothfulness and my groaning about being tired) and I are getting the film out.
That is a small good thing. It’s actually a great good thing. The audience response has been amazing. People love this film and want to share it with their communities.
And, oh! I have lost four pounds. 🙂
Get out of your own way and trust life
How can all this help you? Well, if you are struggling with a goal, remember to question the journey you are on. Then be ready to accept the answers even if they are not what you thought they would be. Dig deep into the situation to discover the root cause of the problem, and trust life to bring about the right revelations.
Then you have to be brave enough to walk the journey you are actually on, even if that is uncomfortable. Figure out your purpose, and how badly you want to continue on your paths. During that time, remember to be kind to yourself and take good care of yourself!
Let us know your own stories in the comment section below!