Things don’t always go according to plan or in line with our expectations. But, whatever is happening, it is helpful to see ourselves as being in a process of some kind; which means we can observe and, based on our previous experience, predict how things will turn out. This allows us to be more relaxed and more effective, even when our plans are not working out as we would like.
This is the first current entry for nearly three weeks and it uses the reasons behind that fact to highlight a common process. But first some background information.
This blog has been running for nearly five months. It was my intention to spend the first three months creating a level of quality with which I could be satisfied. The momentum I built up in those first three months took me up to the four-month mark. At that point my writing stalled. There have been 12 entries from my journal since then but no new posts.
Since my writing stalled I have, on occasion, felt under pressure to produce. At the same time I have been aware of avoiding the trap of writing for the sake of writing and of creating a new blog post for the sake of posting regularly. Quality is important and I was not prepared to compromise the quality of the blog for the sake of a fresh entry. I started on new entries but they remain incomplete for the moment because I could not get them right.
All of this constitutes the first six steps of the process. Put simply, the full process I went through looks like this:
- Expectations (continuation of progress)
- Momentum stalls
- Attempts to push forward are unsatisfactory
- Reaffirm intent not to compromise quality (goals)
- Breakthrough (11-15 July)
It looks straightforward; and it is. But when you are actually in the process, it can be difficult to remain positive. When you are stuck, it can feel as though things will never change or improve. But the more often we go through the process, the more evidence we collect that things will shift. They will get better. Just relax and keep going.
Going back to the entry from 14th June 2011 (‘Why is This Happening?’), we find the first mention of the difficult phase (although that also belongs to a longer-term process than the one I am focusing on here). In the middle of that entry I talk about myself struggling and just having to keep going. At that time the difficulties were more to do with my physical well-being. But three weeks later the writing stopped and, having worked continuously on the blog for four months, I found myself having to take an enforced break.
I kept things ticking over by reading my training journal (from 11 years ago) but did not post any entries from it as I did not have the clarity or certainty of those first few months. Eventually I posted a group of four journal entries because it made sense to do so. I did the same again a few days ago with another eight journal entries. In addition, I continued to look for inspiration and made attempts to trigger it by writing new entries, but the quality was lacking.
Then the week of 11th July came along. It was a busy and successful week full of meetings with clients and coaches, as well as one presentation. That week, and the quieter ones leading up to it, demonstrate what I write about in the ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’ entry. At the end of that week I looked back over recent blog entries and could see the process more clearly.
I also reasoned that it had been okay for there to have been no new entries. There is enough information already available on the blog and in the big scheme of things an absence of new material over a period of two or three weeks is no problem at all (the blog will run for at least another three years with the journal entries alone). The time had come for a natural pause and consolidation. I read back over the last ten current posts and was satisfied with the quality. As I did so I had the inspiration to write this entry.
As it turns out I am still not out of this process. I intended to post this entry two days ago but have had some technical difficulties, which pulled me back into the frustration stage. I used this time to work on some other things but the frustration wouldn’t leave me completely. This extra delay is an indication of another important aspect of the process: often there is no telling how long it will last.
For example, my process spans a number of weeks. I have a current client who is experiencing a similar thing over a number of days, and I received word from a previous client last week who is now having success within a process that has lasted for over a year. I encourage all my clients, regardless of their goals, to look at themselves and their process. That way, they become more aware, are more able to predict what will happen, and so are better equipped to deal with each step as it happens.