I haven’t written this blog for a while, mainly because I have been through a confusing period lately. My health is strong but I’m not that happy. It may be triggered by a few things but for sure, it was trying something new and not entirely succeeding. I held a workshop on one of the principles in my book, Avoiding Burnout: The Seven Principles of Self-Preservation. It was such a struggle to market it and I had very few participants.
It felt embarrassing to me that I couldn’t attract a solid audience. I know that it was probably a good thing because it gave me a chance to sample my material on a smaller group and to test the timing and other components. The participants seemed to enjoy it, and to benefit, which is what I wanted. I just felt like a failure that it was so small. It didn’t bring in the money that I hoped to bring in.
And perhaps my motivation for running workshops was more about bringing in income and less about sharing my concepts. I love writing and I enjoy public speaking too. I reach a state of flow in preparing for speeches and of course, I have a strong passion for writing. If I had to choose one calling, it would be to write. It’s tricky to earn a living as a writer and it takes time to build up enough credibility as a speaker to charge large sums of money per speech and to land the big audiences.
I’m passionate about aligning your strengths and talents with the work that you do. I believe in guiding people towards a happier life. But it’s hard to get paid when you’re selling inspiration. Or maybe that’s just a limiting belief. Maybe it’s me who believes that no-one wants to buy my inspiration. If I can’t convince myself that my message has value, how can I sell it to others?
I’ve grappled with a few issues lately. Am I valuable? Does my message justify client expenditure? Do I really want to be talking and writing about this horrible experience I’ve endured? I’ve always been a solution-focused person and I’m not sure I’m happy dwelling on the burnout period of my life, especially now that I’m functioning normally. Maybe it’s time to shift the focus towards joy. How do I do that and still promote my book?
Everything has just been so hard lately. Things going wrong like a flat tyre, a vomiting child and a power failure the day before my workshop. As if I needed any more stress as I approached my poorly-attended foray into something new. My website is still not perfect after months of struggle and my brand is in jeopardy. I have felt quite powerless to move forwards towards selling my book online and promoting my brand.
I’ve recently started writing my second book which will cover the recovery period. I’ve been reading my journals and going back through my calendar to see what was happening for me in the various phases of my recovery journey. It’s pretty depressing reading what I felt and thought. I thought I would take about a year to recover. It has been three. I thought all my relationship issues and lifestyle adjustments would be resolved by now. They are not. Maybe I haven’t been that successful in effecting a change in my life that I’m telling people about.
I’m reading about how painful it felt that my father didn’t support me. I read about how alone I felt and how hard I tried to keep everyone happy and to make a success of the business. I thought back to my corporate days and how much struggle I felt in doing my best to deliver among some really nasty people. I thought about how I felt about a year before my health collapsed. I thought I could turn the business around. I had this list of things we were going to buy when we had ‘made it.’ After the workshop I realized that I have the same feeling now. I have this mental list of the things I want to do when I am earning an income that matches my expenses. And I feel the same sense of hopelessness that I’ll never get there.
I felt like a failure again. I’m the idealistic fool who thinks you can actually make money following your passion. I’m the Pollyanna trying to make my suffering mean something. To tell you the truth, it’s so hard sometimes. I feel alone again. I feel that it would be so great to have a job with a salary and to be able to come home at night and complain about my idiot manager. That would be luxurious. This struggle of trying to figure everything out by myself and to know what step to take next, is so tough. Sometimes I get tired of it.
I try to find new opportunities to promote my book and to reach as many people as possible. In this process, however, I face rejection occasionally and it’s tough. It’s a struggle to pick myself up from that rejection and to do it again. As an introvert, I prefer to email people, I don’t like phone calls and the few I make result in rejection. At times, I just feel like hiding from the world.
In the workshop we looked at our top character strengths. In my book I talk about the top five identified when I was sick. I did the test again to prepare for the workshop and ‘Perseverance’ came up as my top strength. Yes, the perseverance that drove me beyond reason to a state of complete collapse. Great strength, thanks. I try hard to acknowledge my good points but that one is a sore point for me. I’m not sure I trust myself anymore. What if I’m persevering down the wrong path again? Who’s going to tell me?
I’m afraid. I’m afraid that it’s going to take ten or twenty years for my books to sell to a decent amount of people and the slog along the way is so hard. I don’t know whether I should work with a distributor who eats up all my income and leaves me with a scrap but gets my books into all mainstream bookstores in the country. Is that even important anymore? I can’t do any public relations in a big way until my book is widely available. So what do I do now?
Working for yourself is a struggle. There’s no one to tell you what to do next and that can be really scary. I know that I remain hard on myself and I expect a lot, despite having worked on self-compassion. I know that I just have to focus on the next steps and hopefully the path will become clear in time. I am grateful to have three speaking events in May so that will be my focus for now. I’m going on holiday at the end of the month and perhaps the distance from everyday life will help me to gain some perspective.
Sometimes I don’t write this blog when I’m feeling down or negative but it is a truly cathartic process and it helps me to find the way forward. Not every post will be full of sunshine and rainbows but that’s life.