One of my favourite mental models is the adaptive cycle. Its double-looped, infinity symbol reflects the continuous evolution of life on both the micro and macro scales.
While its simplicity renders it useful as an overlay on any developmental journey, there is something missing: the liminal space between each step in the cycle, the tentative tendrils that snake past one step and move ahead into the next, the fluid, dynamic push-and-pull of the in-between places that we experience in our feeling bodies.
While some liminal spaces call for a short pause to reflect or make a decision before moving along the cycle, other in-between moments stretch out and extend their reach, clouding our very sense of being and permeating every aspect of our daily lives. In particular, the space between conservation (homeostasis) and release can be particularly uncomfortable to navigate through, as described in a recent newsletter by Executive Coach Starla Sireno**: "I could feel the pull of an emerging future that doesn’t yet exist - the plans, the ideas, the next steps that are unfolding, but haven’t yet come to fruition. And with the excitement, there is a grieving for what will have to change to make room for that new reality. But for now, there isn’t much I can do except live with the restlessness of nothing being wrong, yet having a deep desire for resolution."
Confinement of the body can breed expansion of the mind, a powerful engine that moves forward at the speed of thought, breaking barriers and reaching beyond the physical. This is the space, the loop many of us find ourselves living through, a state of internal flux where our minds are free to explore and expand while our bodies are, for the most part, stuck within the confines dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols.
We then find ourselves living in a time of uncertainty, waiting for our physical realities to catch up to the etherial plane, there is no comfort in plans and strategies. Instead, we can find solace in the certainty of uncertainty - the ever-changing seasons, the rhythm of nature's cycles, and the stillness of simply be-ing, letting the mind and body settle in and rest in a cozy nook of our own creativity, mirroring the deep freeze of February in the mountains. But that is a story for another time...
There are a lot of quotes on social media reminding us not to compare our beginning or mid point with someone else's finish line. We are reminded to celebrate the small wins along the way. But what about the road blocks, the losses, the rejections? They are all stepping stones on our journey, and each one helps us move forward, or correct course along the way.
The developmental stage of any given project is anything but glamorous. It's a series of chats with potential clients, meetings with possible partners, and building relationships that will hopefully lead to collaborations. It's the cold-calls and the intro emails, the hours of research and the awkward networking. It's the unglamorous, uncelebrated backbone of achievement.
Tracking your efforts creates a visible timeline and a framework for your success. It is a repertoire of the steps that guide you and give you hope when you feel like you don't have anything to show. It is progress. Every step you take leads you closer to your goal, or helps you redefine your vision.
It's my hope for you that you populate your path with guideposts of your journey, and that you take a moment to be grateful for every tentative step, every fumble, and every leap you make.
Feel like trying it out? Get your copy here. You can fill in each starburst with the steps you take: sending something out for publication, each cold-call, every CV you send or interview request, every pastry you bake or artwork you make. Download this handy progress tracker and keep tabs on your efforts for the next little while. If you feel like sharing the journey, tag your pictures with #PCCtracker or mention @plancultivatecreate on Instagram and I'll cheer you on! Feeling ambitious? Print out a few to keep the momentum going, or use a different one for your various projects!
So go forth and track you efforts. You'll be glad you did, when you are in the thick of a project that is taking up your time and you feel like giving up. It will remind you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that the process is part of your progress.
P.S. What others are saying and doing to track their progress:
Sarah Von Bargen from YesAndYes.org wrote about tracking your efforts, not your accomplishments. She wisely reminds us that the only thing your can control is yourself, not others' responses, and gives some concrete examples that apply to a work scenario, but are adaptable to your particular situation.
Tiffany Han leads a course on getting 100 rejection letters. For every negative answer to a proposal, you get a gold star. It helps you see that you are doing the work, even if that means you are not getting the results you want in the moment. It makes it that much sweeter when you do. I have not taken the course, but have learned about it through interviews on podcasts and the introduction video to the course. I love the idea and think it too can be adapted to your personal situation. The most important part is to put your work - and yourself! - out there! I decided to send out some art and photography over the last year. One of my creations was published, while the others have earned me gold stars. I haven't yet reached 100, but I plan on filling up my tracker with them.
Lastly, there is a planner system developed by Angela Jia Kim, The Daily Action Planner that I was sent for review (you knew this was coming, can't talk tracking without talking planners!) that integrates tracking your efforts, the "seeds and weeds" that move you forward, and prompts you to celebrate your success(es) at the end of the week. Want a peek? You can watch the video review.
Have you read or seen any interesting posts about tracking your progress?
Share them below, I would love to add them to the list!
We've all been there: A deadline is looming, or you've been diligently working away at a project until you just can't keep going. As frustrating as it may be in the moment, it is quite natural for our brains to need a break to recuperate and process before hunkering down and getting back to work. Instead of falling down the internet rabbit hole, keep a list handy of simple, easy things you want to do 'when you get the time.'
Here's the catch: You can get just as distracted with the things on your list, as you can by social media. So put a timer on for 10-15 minutes, and make it a point to return to your original task when the buzzer goes off.
Here are a few suggestions from my personal list:
I can go on, but you get the picture. Your list might look completely different, so I made a simple printable you can tuck into your planner or stick on the fridge.
I'm curious - what will you put on your 'Purposeful Procrastination' list?
on the journey to