Finishing—or even starting—your dream project requires slowing down and committing to a long-term effort.
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me toViggo Mortensen
go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there
aren’t enough hours in the day, but if we do each thing calmly and carefully, we will
get it done quicker and with much less stress.”
The Allure of “Fast”
The culture of speed is killing our creativity.
I consistently fall prey to the cultural lore that if I am not prolific with posting on social media, writing blogs, and making art, then somehow I am slipping behind. That the only fast track I’m on is the one that leads to obscurity.
Each morning when I sit down to journal, I root around for signs I’m unconsciously under this spell. I frequently discover a variant of this mind virus replicating in my belief systems.
Intellectually I know that if one’s focus is purely on output without pausing to do the essential work of inspiring ourselves, the source waters of our creativity evaporate and eventually dry up altogether, and we’ll never do valuable work on our dream projects. And even though I wrote a book about the all-important role of filling our inspiration tanks each day, I have to stand guard, vigilant, at the gates of my behavior.
The Problem with “Fast-at-all-Costs”
In addition to culture, there’s a second culprit pushing us to work ever faster—our own brain.
This was powerfully brought home to me during an email exchange I had with a client yesterday. I had reached out to him to ask if he would vote for BUOYANT in a contest for book covers (click the link for details—I would love your support!). He graciously responded that he had voted and followed up with the following message:
“How did you actually *write a book*?! I have the knowledge and experience to write a book, but I don’t have the time. I don’t have the focus. I hate writing.”
When I explored why he didn’t like writing, he responded, “I do not enjoy writing for several reasons, but it’s all related to the amount of time it takes to get out an idea coherently.”
I recognized myself in his comment. I know this frustration, and I imagine many entrepreneurs, creators, and visionary leaders with brains that whir like turbo engines, and sidestep dream projects, would as well. I wrote back:
“I am fascinated by this. To me, this speaks to the speed at which your brilliant mind runs. You love that speed, how ideas collide in your brain. How quickly you can see paths forward, unravel spaghetti-like issues, and solve challenges. All the reasons why you are such a gifted strategist!
Because your brain ideates at about 500 mph, it is frustrating when getting those ideas onto paper takes time. Frustration/annoyance with this slow tempo can quickly transmute into anxiety because slowness is foreign to you. When anxiety settles in, cortisol spikes and the brain begins shutting down. Now your brain is no longer ideating at 500 mph. Thoughts fragment. You lose focus. Your brain is no longer your trusted ally; it has become a foe. To restore balance, you abandon the writing, rev your brain back up to its typical speed, and get back into your comfort zone.
Here’s my take…I think you’d be an amazing writer. Just as it is true in the operational work for your business, I believe the key to your writing success is to have a co-pilot who helps surface your ideas and what it is you truly think. In other words, you need to talk it out first. You would then formulate your core message/big idea, outline, and teaching points (also with a co-pilot). Once this foundational work is done, you would have clarity and confidence. The writing phase becomes an entirely different experience!”
“Sometimes I feel like you are clairvoyant. Yes, you completely described my problem better than I could myself. When can we start?”
How to Truly Engage Your Dream Project
Perhaps you, too, want to write a book. Or maybe you dream of selling your artwork, launching a line of handmade jewelry, or taking your brick-and-mortar enterprise online. Regardless of the dream project, can you honestly say you are taking decisive action toward making it a reality?
If not, check in with yourself to see if you are under siege from limiting beliefs emanating from having adopted our culture of speed and/or a brain that is wired to run like a stallion in an open meadow. Bringing both of these to the fore of your conscious mind is a great first step in freeing yourself and hitting the reset button.
Take the Step—Hit Your “Slow Down” Button
Get out your journal, ask yourself the following questions, and write down your responses, with the freedom of a dream project in mind:
1) What does my dream project/best work look like?
2) What would it take for me to do this work?
3) Who do I need to serve as my co-pilot/dream doula?
Seek and Accept Support
Surfacing and then seeing our dream project become a reality requires time. It requires that we move slowly in order to move fast.
Many times, it requires support from someone who can help us know what it is we truly think, provide structure to our thinking, and outline the steps we need to take to methodically and calmly achieve whatever our heart desires.
Disbelieve the cultural lore of speed, know that slow is your ally, and ask for help.