Category Archives: Someday Interviews

Overwhelmed by Work:What’s Too Much?

  • Someday Lesson: Unless you know exactly how long your to-do list is you can’t make objective decisions about what to work on.

Valentin.Ottone on Flickr.comSince December is Planning Month on Someday Syndrome let’s tackle a Someday Challenge that’s planning related. Specifically let’s look at Angela’s problem with being overwhelmed with everything she has to do.

Angela suffers from I’ll Get Around To It Someday. She knows what she wants but can’t seem to find the time or energy to follow through. She says “Someday I’ll find the time and energy to fulfill my dreams.” The thing is she’s not very specific about what those dreams are. When looking one year into the future however, she’s much more specific saying that she will have implemented some of her programs, have produced the show she wrote and be able to support her children financially.

The problem is that she’s so overwhelmed by the normal anxieties of life that she can’t see clearly. It seems to be so much stuff that she’s paralyzed by all the stuff. She moved her office in-house so that she could work on things 24/7 but that hasn’t worked which isn’t surprising. Bringing the office into the home is likely to create more anxieties not fewer. Without a clear separation of work life and home life the stress and guilt of working or not working 24/7 multiples exponentially. Every moment at work outside of regular hours takes away from family time and every moment with the family is one less moment striving for the work-related dream.

In our go-go-go world this sense of paralysis is common and it’s something many people suffer from. It happens when you allow your to-do list to get longer and longer which results in panic and paralysis.

Angela mentions anxiety at all the day to day stuff. That especially happens when you keep it all in your head – it builds and each item seems unrelated to anything else. As well, as I said working on things 24/7 is not the best way to get things done. I take plenty of time off and I’m one of the more productive people I know. I focus on relaxing when I’m not working and when I do work I don’t fritter because I know I have time to relax later.

So what does Angela need? She needs a plan. She needs to know what she’s working on when. However, she can’t create that plan until she knows exactly what she wants to work on. Yes, in her one-year-in-the-future vision she hints at what she might work on now, but the ideas are still very abstract. They’re results, not actions.

When looking into the future, it’s important to focus on actions. Outcomes are great, but they don’t motivate well because they leave a gap between the current state and the future outcome. That gap can only get filled by action.

Taking Action

And what actions does Angela need to do? What actions do you need to focus on if you want to achieve your dreams? How can you choose any one thing when there the to-do is longer than a line up to buy U2 concert tickets?

You might just pick one random item and work on that. Or you might pick the top three things that have reached crisis mode.

Or you might take a bit of time to plan out your actions, which first requires some research.

In this case, research doesn’t mean going out and looking up information or talking to others. For this type of research you are going to interview yourself. Using a blank piece of paper or a new document on the computer, write down the numbers 1 to 100 (if you’re using paper, you might need two or three sheets). Now fill in all 100 slots with everything you do during the day – both work and non-work related. Don’t forget as well those things that you want to/feel you should get done but haven’t gotten around to yet.

Why? What will Angela get out of overwhelming herself even more? How will this exercise help you?

Right now Angela feels overwhelmed by all of her to-dos. These to-dos however are only in her head. Just like in last week’s Someday Challenge, Angela needs to clear her head of the overwhelm and getting it out on paper does just that. Plus by giving yourself a goal of 100 items you’ll likely have a hard time reaching the goal and you’ll realize that you don’t actually have as many things to do as you thought, taking off some of the pressure.

By emptying your head of your to-dos you’ll also be able to look at all the items objectively. When they sit in your head they all seem equally important and necessary.

What Next?

So now you have a list of items that you do (or want to do). How do you take this list of actions and turn them into a plan that works for you, gives you time to relax, and moves you towards your dream?

You prioritize, delegate and delete items from the list. You whittle it down until it fits into a schedule that’s manageable and comfortable.

And no, it’s not easy. In fact this sort of Someday Challenge paralyzes many people.

You need help. You need the outside objectively of someone who isn’t so intimately connected to the actions, someone who can help you decide priorities and what doesn’t really need to get done after all.

You can get that help by filling out a Personalized Someday Assessment. It takes only a few minutes and just might mean the difference between being overwhelmed and being happy.

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Someday I’ll Be Happy: How Live Beyond Just Getting By

kurtxio on flickr.comRobin contacted Someday Syndrome because she suffers from Someday My Ship Will Come In. She does not know what she wants. She just know that she does not want the life she has now.

When asked to finish the sentence “Someday I’ll…” she answered:

be happy.

She feels that she doesn’t accomplish much. She feels overloaded all the time and since she doesn’t know where to begin she does nothing.

She has tried reading motivational articles and journaling but neither has helped.

Finally, when asked how she pictures her life a year from now she said:

I really can’t answer that. Finances are short and I’m raising two small children alone. It’s hard to dream when you are barely getting by.

The Someday Challenge

First off, I congratulate Robin for getting by, even if it’s barely. Raising kids on her own is not a simple task and that victory needs to be celebrated.

There are probably many other things in Robin’s life currently what we could celebrate, but since Robin’s Someday is a general desire to be happy she likely doesn’t see much of those celebratory moments.

Speaking of her Someday, this is exactly what most people who suffer from Someday My Ship Will Come In feel. There is no future, no idea of what’s possible. There’s just blankness in the future and often bleakness in the now.

If Robin is going to bust her Somedays first we need to clear out this bleakness, then start building excitement.

The First Step

So, let’s take a look at this future blankness and present bleakness.

Many people will say things like “Come on! Put on a happy face! Fake it until you feel it!” and sometimes that works, but all too often it’s like painting over a damp patch in the wall that’s hiding major structural damage.

We need to pull the drywall down, clear out all the rotten supports and then rebuild the structure before we can decorate and make it look pretty.

In Robin’s case the unhappiness she feels is that rotten material behind the drywall. We need to clear it out before it causes the whole house to fall apart.

And the best way to clear out negative thoughts and emotions?

Put them down on paper. When emotions swirl around in our heads they build and build and build until they break out and cause more damage than a hurricane.

If however we let out the stream of emotions and thoughts in a controlled manner they don’t overwhelm or do damage. But putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard Robin can get rid of that overloaded feeling she mentioned.

Yes, it might seem like a strange thing to focus on the negative when we want to get Robin to a positive place, but unless she unloads all the negativity first the positive thoughts and actions will have no place to go. There’s currently no room for them.

Once Robin has this list of everything that’s wrong with her life right now, it’s time for one small success, some positive result based on a single action. Looking at the whole list of complaints, whines, moans and all the unhappy parts of her life, Robin will pick one small item and commit to changing it.

It might be as simple as a conscious decision to see mornings with the kids not as a battle to get them out of the house to playtime where she gets to spend time with them. Or a feeling that she’s not active enough and committing to a twenty minute walk three times a week.

Robin’s Homework:

  1. Write out everything that’s wrong with your life. Let it all hang out. Start with all the big stuff and take it right down to the minor irritations. Reward yourself with every page you fill. Nothing is too petty or going to be judged by anyone. This is just for you.
  2. Read through the list and pick one thing that you feel you could change. It needs to be something small, something that would take only one or at the most two steps to turn from negative to positive.
  3. Put the change into action and then pay attention to how the change makes you feel. Plus note if there are any side effects to this change (positive or negative).
  4. Pick a second small irritation and change that, then a third and a fourth, each time paying attention to the consequences of each change.

The Long Term

Once Robin starts to see the positive effects of the small changes she is making, she’ll then want to start building up the structure of the wall we’ve torn out.

To do that she’ll need to figure out what she wants out of life. Sounds easy but it’s not. It will require a lot of inward reflection and self-awareness.

The effort will be worth it, especially for her children. Robin can use them as a motivator – if she can find her dream and pursue it, think of the great lesson she’ll teach her children in the process.

What do you think? If you were Robin’s Someday Mentor what would you suggest? Join the discussion over on the Facebook Someday Syndrome fan page.

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The Difficulty of Doing: Janice Cartier Interview

For the final Someday Interview in its current format, we have an interviewee that I’ve been pursuing for months. Janice Cartier, an artist from the Garden District of New Orleans displaced and dealing with what happens when life as you know it explodes, who also paints breathtaking images with words, wasn’t sure at first she could do the interview. I nagged, cajoled and begged. Finally she gave but said:

“But Alex… I may not have answers, I am still in process.”
“That’s fine Jan, we’ll do it in November. Creativity, I‘m focusing on creativity then.”
“Creativity?” she smiled quietly, “Yes, I can do that. “

And then she thought:

Somedays? Hm…That’s a bit tougher story… And it was.

Before we get into the interview itself let’s take a deeper look at Janice’s process because what Janice went through coming up with the answers to this interview exemplifies exactly why I run Someday Syndrome.

The lesson is sometimes the doing of something very difficult to do. The interview was at 7,000. It took me all day yesterday and the day before to get it to 3,000. Editing and writing hell. And today to get it to 2000.

I had to work, break, work, unkink, work, curse, work, check word count, all day long. And stay with it to the exclusion of all else. Because somewhere in the doing of this, with your template, with your questions, and artistic creative process, that intersection… somewhere in that was a problem for me… and a key. A clue. A knot to unravel.

And I had to find out what on earth it is. It’s a simple interview for goodness sake… I think I found it, and it was more than one thing really. Honestly, I am laughing a bit and shaking my head and unkinking my shoulders with a discovery I just made and a decision… to ask you to read it and help with the editing, help with the polishing, so it comes out in the sincere and helpful way it is intended, and carries the value of context as well. Helps your audience with their creativity.

Taking the overwhelming amount of information and choices we have available to us and narrowing it all down to the essential and the precious. That’s what Someday Syndrome helps people do. It’s a process, it’s a struggle and it’s monumentally rewarding journey.

Thank you, Jan, for being such an amazing person and painting us a beautiful picture for the final Someday Syndrome Interview.

Jan CartierName one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I came across a note to myself, while working at my desk the other morning, in my active projects notebook: “Deer Tracks” collage. It’s a comprehensive, exciting plan for a different kind of piece. It has some names, some influences, written on it, ink drawings, and ideas for the piece…it’s the kind of thing all artists have around…our conceptualizing bits of this and that. I thought I had made this plan last spring. It’s tied to the current work, the huge “Deer Tracks Nearby” monumental watercolor, but the ooh-ahh notes I made are from four years ago: August 3, 2005.

Seeing the date brought tears and I looked again at the second name on the plan. Passed my fingers tips over it. Felt the sheer eagerness and risk taking ambition of what I had written. The zeal of new, fresh, adventurous work. For a moment I was right there again. I saw his face. Felt his presence. In that moment, in that space. In that bloom of new thought, new ways to work, new direction forward, and working anywhere near or with John T. Scott some more… I remember planning to do whatever it took to do that.

But John is dead. There will be no working with John. And this project? A few weeks after my pen made those marks, Katrina hit. Pillars in my life fell in that storm, or shortly after. And in second waves. One close friend after another… work, personal life…public… collectors…colleagues…loved ones… opportunities…It stuns me even now. Even my source material, the land I paint, became inaccessible to me.

So the tears come. But I only let them flow for awhile. I miss them. These marvelous people. This incredible place and my relationship with the coast. The rich ties to community. Walking my brick paved sidewalk. Moments big and small. Yep. Pity party material alright.

Even our worst behaviors fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
Becoming masters at process is invaluable for artists. Things occur again and again until we deal with it. If we are resisting something, or emotional about it, there’s probably a decent reason why. It’s the same in studio process. If you can’t solve what you are after one way, take a look, experiment a bit until you come to another aha moment. Ask questions of the stumbling point. That’s how you break through.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity part. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I acknowledge that things are more than a little out of whack. That’s reasonable. Some people know that I was right there, right in the eye of the storm in that “sliver by the river” when the storm hit. What people may not know is that where the heart of my painting comes from is exactly where that storm made landfall near the Pearl River. Every facet of my life was disassembled, tumbled and tossed. I lost a disproportionate amount of people I am close to in such a short period of time. But I made a decision some time ago not to just survive. I want my whole creative self intact. So I work everyday toward that.

The most important question any artist can ever ask or answer about that is this:
“Did you show up?” Seriously, not one single thing creative thing can happen good, bad, or indifferent if you don’t show up, fully present, and give it your best shot on that day in that moment in that space with what you have at the time.

I have a few extreme encouragers to help get me through, or to laugh with when I need a laugh. And I have some fabulous ghosts, the spirits of some fantastic people right here in my heart.

But I want new whole experiences, too. So that, being able to go out there fully and take it all in again. That’s a powerful incentive. So when it is important enough and you know why it is, you choose it. You show up there.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
Boots and saddles moments. Get in the boat, jump on the Jet Ranger kinds of now we talking…moments. Love them.

We are sensitive souls after all. What makes us creative and richly engaged in the studio is the very thing that makes us vulnerable outside of it. It’s a matter of finding balance. Of letting some things go and acting on others. I love that moment of powerful intent, acting on it. Prepping for it too. What’s happens now after the storm sometimes is I will jump right in, know it’s fantastic full speed ahead, and hit a wall I did not know was there when I set out. Ouch. So it takes figuring out where the fault lines are sometimes and overcoming them.

It feels great to overcome those. I can tell a huge difference from even a year ago. An exciting tickle, the tingle of just being in it, just being there, in that place that is so you. Your creative self at play is one of the best parts of self. My creative self keeps leading me back to me. Into those boots and saddles moments.

Like returning to “Deer Tracks Nearby”. That is a huge and wonderful thing for me to be doing. Right at the center of my heart. It is a challenge, but it feels…scrumptious, in spite of what I have to do to do it.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
Hm, good question. I need constant updating to see, is this or that true now? Can I do this now? What do I dare wish for now? Things like that.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I am trying to shorten steps. Get back to the level I need to be at to actually exceed it. Complete work. Find new distribution, new clients. It isn’t easy. Everything is tinged with a poignancy that I have yet to find a way around or over, so through seems to be the path. And of course the economy is what it is, not to mention the gate keeping landscape in flux. But I am looking for ways to leapfrog some steps and not lose any quality or richness. Make sure that I let go of anything that creates an obstacle that doesn’t have to be there.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Avoid it? I don’t know of a way to avoid the kinds of things that just happen in life. If you notice I am not on a coast at the moment, not because I wouldn’t like to be, I would, but I have to settle some health issues, find some way to decrease sensitivities to mold and environmental things like that. Irony, huh? And I have to face that I may not get to ever really go back.

I never expected ever to have to do so much so all at once. Devastation is truly a real thing for me. 90, 000 square miles inside and out…everything I touched… Takes a little time. So give yourself time. Protect that inner self. It’s where the creation comes from. Not the surface. Not the circumstances. Make some peace with being in process. And that that is very much okay.

Transitions by nature are uncomfortable. They are those places in between, but they can also hold riches, discoveries, things that help us get to the other side. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We all need it.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
Technical help. Referrals. Cash.

Actually, it helps to have another perspective to shorten steps, or to hold your hand, a soft place to land, help to stop the nightmares or the stupid fears. I mean it’s silly, I would jump into a helicopter and hang out over a barrier island in a second but updating my WordPress site terrorizes me, presenting my portfolio to one more glazed over gallery owner wears me out and trying to compare myself on paper to others seems absurd, irrelevant to me. Resumes seem…not to cover it.

I want ways to shorten those steps or throw the book out. I passed a line of experiences some time ago that just makes it very hard for me to conform. Just let me get to the creating part. Just let me find home again, or maybe just let me have the ability to roam.

Help me sell my work, or consult on any and all things creative. I am very good at that.

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Sailing the Someday Ship: Andy Hayes Interview

For the last interview of National Clock Month, I’d like to introduce you to Andy, a Someday client who went from a job he hated to working for himself and being one of the leaders of the groundbreaking Location Independent Professionals Roundtable program. With (several) new businesses on the go, let’s take a look at how Andy handles the clock…

Andy HayesWho: Andy Hayes of Travel Online Partners and Sharing Travel Experiences
Andy is a travel industry entrepreneur, working with small businesses in travel and tourism to help them with online technologies at while also a prolific travel writer, published author, and editor of a popular travel website.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Just one? 🙂

Before working full-time in the travel space I was working in a technology job inside a very large corporation and I was the proverbial square peg in a round hole. Days and nights became a real struggle and the issues I was having with not being satisfied at work started to bleed over into my personal life as well.

I pretty much went into meltdown, dreading getting up every morning to face the day. I was working on a few small writing projects which was my only glimmer of hope for the future. But I was stuck – frozen into position – so deep in an emotional well that I couldn’t see the forest from the trees. Pretty soon it felt like nothing in my life was going right – which in some ways was true, because I was letting the bad situation I was in control my every move.

It didn’t feel like a failure so much as it all just felt like “what’s the point?” I was very negative and not a pleasant person to be around!

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
At the time I didn’t know. I think in retrospect I had hoped that in those depths of despair would come clarity, or at least someone to come along and say “hey, what about this?” Which is kind of what happened…

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I didn’t – at least not on my own. I got help. With Alex providing a unbiased and clear outsider perspective, I got a huge push to start getting realistic and start doing something to change! It was a pretty fundamental shift of thinking for me – a touch as light as a feather but that’s all I needed to stop looking down at my feet and start looking up at a way out. I had to make a plan ASAP to leave the job I was in, no matter what. I ended up handing notice in about 2 months later.

It’s appropriate timing being Time Management month as it’s really taken a lot of exactly that – well-managed time – to make things happen in the speed that I wanted them to. I needed out, FAST. So I had to make every moment productive. I mean, I was still working a full time job I hated and yet wrote an entire book in three months that was published in August. Crazy. I couldn’t have done it without (emotional) help though.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
I’m now well on my way to a successful small business owner, doing stuff that I love and working with people that I enjoy immensely. So I couldn’t be happier. Looking back on events that aren’t more than 6 months ago, it’s hard to believe I was the same person.

I remember the event very clearly that was when the shift happened. It was one of the Someday Syndrome exercises where I had to describe my future. I described it in detail but I’d also peppered it with a few blocks – things I thought would never happened. But once Alex asked some hard-hitting questions, that’s when the walls just came crumbling down. All of that negative energy started flowing and turned into positive energy to support positive change.

It’s still not easy, and again on the time management thing, at times I think I’m busier than I was before. When you decide to take your life into your own hands and live more, it comes with strings attached. You’ve got to take decisions and make things happen.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I was obviously playing into the Someday My Ship Will Come In, but now I’m on board and sailing. However living your dreams can be a pretty busy experience, so I sometimes get overwhelmed with the detail and fall into the I’ll Get Around To It Someday trap, unable to prioritise and instead choose nothing. I have lots I want to achieve but never seem to give myself enough time to do it. A razor sharp organisational scheme is a must have. A tip for someday readers: From a good to do list, to lots of shiny email folders – whatever it is that you need, get it and use it.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
Well I’m still working with Alex to keep focus and get some perspective as I go through so much change. I’m trying to stay realistic so that I can make sure I’m doing what’s important and not just doing stuff because I don’t want to do something else. It’s hard because with such a radical life change you find yourself occasionally trying to do things based on the old paradigm, and I don’t want to end up back in “that space.”

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Don’t be afraid to get help. Help doesn’t mean your weak – it just means some outside perspective. Even strong people need that. Smart people thrive on feedback. You need someone who will be honest with you, though, and someone who will follow-up with you and challenge you to aim high.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
A good dose of patience for me is all I need, so I can have the clarity of mind to make sure I stay on track to my ideal future dreams.

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Slowing Creating a Happy Life: Jane Matthews Interview

You already know this week’s Someday Interviewee through her many guest posts her on Someday Syndrome, but for the final interview for September’s self-development theme, I thought I’d give you the chance to get to know Jane a little better.

Jane MatthewsJane Matthews of Small Books and Someone Nicer
Jane is a writer and workshop leader, whose books and courses aim to help others discover how to live more authentic lives (since we teach what we need to know..!)

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I was stuck at home with two tiny children and the only thing dragging me out of bed each morning was the need to respond to their demands. Outwardly I had everything I thought I’d wanted: I’d married a good and loyal friend, we’d bought a country cottage looking out over poppy fields and I’d become a full-time mum.

Inwardly the part of me that would have been happy to stay in bed for the rest of my life recognised the extent to which my misery was entirely down to giving up on my real dreams. I’d fooled myself by buying into the conventional ideas of what a perfect life should look like rather than going in search of my own. My mother said I had post-natal depression. I knew that was I was actually suffering from was the shock of how deeply I’d betrayed myself.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
Initially what I wanted was for someone to step in and sort out the mess I’d made of my life. One of my fantasies was driving my car into a brick wall, injuring myself just badly enough that I’d be whisked to hospital and looked after. I’d proved I couldn’t be trusted with my own life, so why not let someone else do it?

At a deeper level, it’s been my experience that we sometimes allow ourselves to sink to the bottom of the pit in order to generate enough momentum through misery to get us up and out the other side: a bit like pedalling a bike like fury downhill in order to work up the speed to conquer the steep slope on the other side.

I needed time wallowing in my mistakes and I needed to get to the point where I could look myself right in the face and admit that in listening to the hubbub of what the world seems to expect of us I’d failed to listen to every single one of the whispers from my soul that were telling me I was way, way off track!

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
Thank God for Louise Hay; for Susan Jeffers and countless other self-help writers; for my sister; and for the hills of northern England… (see below)

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
There was never a moment. What there was was a journey which took me years, but which helped me unpick the mess I’d made and start to see what I needed to do to create a truly authentic life.

I’d always wanted to walk the Coast to Coast, 185 miles across northern England, taking in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorks Moors. Since my sister, who was also my best friend, lived in the north east, we began stealing a couple of weekends away each year from our everyday lives in order to walk this route.

Those weekends were what saved my sanity. I’d hand the kids over to my husband on Friday night and with Louise Hay or Susan Jeffers for company on the CD player in the car, drive 200 miles to meet my sister for two days tramping the hills and talking honestly about our joys and miseries and dreams and mistakes. The renewed sense of direction and purpose which we both began to discover will be forever attached in my mind to the landscapes we were walking through. And in time, knowing a weekend was coming up, would actually work as a spur to make the changes we’d talked about on our last outing so I’d be able to tell my sister how I’d moved on.

It took us four years to complete the walk travelling east from Robin Hood’s Bay to St Bee’s Head in the west. By the time we’d reached the Cleveland Hills I’d started writing again. When we hit the watershed, where the rivers of England have turned the Dales into a vast soggy sponge of moorland, I’d given up a part-time job paying pin money and gone back to journalism.

And after a scary time getting lost on the unforgiving peaks above Haweswater in the Lakes, I found I had the courage to leave my marriage and move, with the children, into a new home.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
No matter how far I’ve travelled – and my sister and I continue to walk-for-therapy at least twice a year – I’ve yet to out-distance that temptation to fall into line with others’ ideas and expectations of how life should look. Every so often I catch myself in the middle of serious self-deceit, most recently when I considered ‘doing the sensible thing’ and returning to corporate life as an easier option than trying to build my dream career as a writer and workshop leader.

I’m not there yet, indeed ‘pin money’ is what it currently looks like, but it helps to remind myself it took my four years to cross England so it’s OK if it takes me a few years to properly reset my internal compass.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
An important part of staying true to myself is daily spiritual practice. I start each day with at least an hour’s reflection, reading, meditation and visualisation – more if I can manage it. For me, the first hours of the day are the time I seem most open to getting in touch with my own inner wisdom. It’s a bit like the blackboard in a classroom. First thing, it’s clean, so anything written on it stands out sharply. Later, as the calls and emails and demands on my time flood in, everything is a little fuzzy and congested and I can’t make the words out easily.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
One of the most liberating moments for me in recent times was hearing Gill Edwards read the poem ‘Wild Geese’ by Mary Oliver that starts ‘You do not have to be good’.

That’s it. I do not have to be good and you do not have to be good. All we have to do is be true to ourselves.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
If I could attend a personal development workshop every month I’d probably never waver in my conviction that money comes from doing what I love. I do find contact with others, and the space to explore myself away from daily routines really helps me recharge and refocus. A workshop while walking in the hills would be even better…

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Relieving the Pressure by Living in the Present: Cath Duncan Interview

I met Cath Duncan through her Ask The Coach posts over on the Location Independent blog (which I’m totally excited about being a part of). I love Cath’s very practical an answerings and how she encourages people to use the knowledge and the skills they already have to move forward and achieve their dreams. I wanted to see where this coaching perspective came from, so of course I just had to ask Cath for a Someday Interview – and wow, was the response a great one! Check it out for yourself…

Cath DuncanWho: Cath Duncan of Mine Your Resources and Bottom Line Bookclub
Cath is an Agile Living Strategiest who helps people to take action, learn and change more easily so they can create the life they want and thrive in these high-change times.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Right after completing high school, I knew I wanted to study further but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, so I decided to spend the year exploring lots of different avenues that interested me, taking lots of short courses, working part-time and doing some job-shadowing.

It could have been a seriously fun and full year, but I placed huge pressure on myself to make “the right” decision, to develop a clear and specific 5-year plan like so many people say you should, and to find my one “thing” I was born to do, and I ended up lost, depressed, stuck, creatively blocked and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life and felt like I was getting left behind.

Looking back now, I realise I had a bunch of stories about work and vocation that got me stuck – none of which are true, but they’re pretty common stories in our society. I now know that I didn’t need to get into such analysis paralysis about it all. There was no wrong decision because everything is an opportunity to gain experience and I can be happy doing lots of different things. I don’t have to have a 5 year plan – I only need to do what I love doing right now, and I can change my mind at any time I like. And I don’t have to choose just one thing – I can do many things I love and even invent my own job around the different things I like doing, as I’ve done now.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I was never the kind of person to throw a pity party because I’m pretty tenacious and I used to think that being sorry for yourself didn’t solve anything so I’d just steam-roll through the difficult feelings or put them aside and keep working at my goals. But being that proactive can mean that I miss important intuitive messages from myself, which I’m learning to slow down and take more time to listen to these days. I’m also learning to appreciate the value in my “negative” emotions and to sit with them to receive the messages they’re trying to deliver to me. I think there’s great value in throwing a little pity party and meeting all my yucky feelings, because they’re always trying to do something important for me!

I didn’t realise it at the time, but I see now that my Essential Self gave me that depression as a way to get me to stop and take the time to withdraw from the crowds and be alone and listen to my own inner voice, and to question the social “rules” and assumptions that were making me feel so trapped. At my essence I’m someone who’s deeply curious, and loves variety, and depression gave me the opportunity to question everything I’d been brought up to believe so that I had the freedom to pursue what was truly important to me.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I tried lots of things and worked very hard to try to clear my depression and decide what to do with my life – reading books, attending seminars, getting coached, visiting universities and sitting in on lectures, job-shadowing people in fields I was interested in, career assessment tests and more. And it seemed that the harder I worked to find the answers outside of me, the more depressed I got.

Something that helped me get out of that depression was a one-month trip to Namibia on a group tour, where I completely changed my context, got away from family and other social pressures I’d been paying so much attention to, and all the people who were trying so hard to help me to make the “right” decision. I took time most mornings to walk alone and write in my journal, I was barefoot with soil between my toes for most of the month and I gave myself the headspace to stop trying to solve the problem and just enjoy being where I am right now. There were some wonderful people on that trip with me and we had some great campfire discussions about life, the universe and everything, and those discussions opened my mind and gave me some perspective on how small and insignificant my problem was.

I had an enormous sense of well-being and head-space that month and was able to go back there mentally and find my clear headspace again on occasion, after I returned to Cape Town. A few months later, while accessing that sense of well-being, I made a decision to study Social Work – something that hadn’t even been on the cards before.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
I had been taking a lot of action that year (in spite of my depression!). It was just the wrong kind of action. And taking the wrong kind of action made me feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, anxious and stressed. When I stopped trying so hard and got out of stress and into a sense of well-being, I felt amazingly free, and I realized that that was how I wanted to feel in whatever work I chose to do.

When I decided to study Social Work, it was an emotional decision. I stopped trying to analyze what career options were the most logical or would rationally get me the best life, and I chose the one that felt good. My Social Work studies were what began my journey into learning about how our minds work and how to help people create the lives they want. I’ve moved pretty far from the world of Social Work now, but each decision and adjustment in my path has been made by asking myself, “What am I enjoying right now?” and “What else would I love to do and experience more of?” And my experience of working with people in extremely high stress and fear environments while I was doing Social Work is a big part of the inspiration I draw on in my work now, where much of my work is about helping people to get out of stress and fear and to access a state of well-being, where they’ll restore the quality of their thinking and performance and they’ll enjoy life more.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
This is a really hard question, because I no longer set goals and right now I feel like I’m being and doing what I want in all the stuff that’s most important to me. I’ve articulated a list of values – what’s important for me to live and be, and I use that as a guide, and I make decisions based on these values and what feels good right now.

I’ve created a location independent business so I can travel around the world and keep doing the work I love. I love writing and I’m doing more of that. Andy and I have had 10 awesome years of marriage and every year gets better. We have close friends and family we share deeply with and who share deeply with us. I’m doing work I love with people who share a lot of my values, so that’s deeply satisfying. I’m learning from and with awesome people all over the world in areas that are incredibly interesting to me. I have a very drama-free life.

There’s still plenty of room for growth – I’m just no longer motivated to try to work hard to be “perfect” at everything right now because I know that’s unattainable and that way of living was stressful when I used to do it. I’d love to be more physically fit and flexible, to earn enough through my business for Andy to do the Social Development Work in Africa that he loves to do full-time. I’d love to clear our mortgage on our house in Cape Town completely so that we don’t have to rent it out and we can pop back to Cape Town and stay in our own house, and have guests stay there comfortably with us whenever we want. I’d love to make more art, Andy and I still have lost of places we’d love to visit and motorcycle adventures we want to take, and I’d love the opportunity to care for and guide a few children (our own or others) in a very committed and intimate way at some point in my life.

These aren’t goals – some of them are the natural result of what I’m doing right now, and they’re all experiences that would be aligned with our values and give me a good feeling when I think of them now – but I’m more focused on how I’m living right now, and I’m open to having our values met in other ways too in the future.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I’m being the person I want to be now, and creating experiences I enjoy right now. When Andy and I got married, our vows were along the lines of committing ourselves to helping each other to be who we want to be and to experience life fully. So it’s kind of like living with a coach (with additional benefits!) and we’re always talking about what’s important to us and how we can live more of that, and that kind of stuff, so our relationship keeps me agile.

I’m very committed to learning and developing my general resourcefulness, so I invest a lot of time, money and attention in learning experiences such as developing my coaching skills, reading about how our minds work, traveling, and meeting interesting people. I’ve just recently formed a mastermind with 3 other business people I really respect and I’m looking forward to learning a lot from and with them, particularly in relation to evolving and growing my business.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Don’t try so hard. Relax and let yourself feel good right now, even while you work at changing things in your life. Question everything that makes you feel yucky, and stop questioning the stuff that makes you feel good. Stop trying to “get somewhere.” Be here now, and focus on creating ways you can enjoy or change your life in some small way right now. Love all the parts of your life and yourself – even the ones that “aren’t where you want to be yet” or feel like they might be getting in the way… it’s all natural, safe and healthy, and part of living a fulfilling life.

I know some people will worry that they’ll get nothing done if they’re not driving themselves with goals and fear and feeling bad, but I’m much more productive than I ever was living this way.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
I’d love to do more cool stuff with awesome people. Working with authors over the past few months to create the monthly Bottom-line programs has been very cool, and I’ve realised that I’m totally ready to start doing joint ventures with other coaches and leaders. I’m exploring a few possibilities, and I’m open to having more of the right people find me now, and to see where that goes…

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Feeling Frustrated & Irresponsible: Sean Platt Interview

Building an online business is a lot like writing – it takes a long time to build success in both. This week we get an interview from someone who is building an online business focused on writing and see what he’s done to stay patient while pushing forward with all his dreams.

Who: Sean Platt of Writer Dad and Collective Inkwell
Sean Platt is a father, writer and businessman who longs to craft things of value and live a life that inspires others, as well as himself, while continuing to make his wife and children proud.

Sean PlattName one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Earlier this year, I believe it was around March, I was feeling about an inch above the gutter. I’d spent a good half year prior to that working as hard as I know how, but had yet to turn more than a fist full of dollar bills. I felt like I was jeopardizing both the present safety and general future of my family. Nothing I had set out to do had yielded any tangible results and my last few experiments had led nowhere. I didn’t feel stuck, nor did I feel like I had failed, as I still believed everything would eventually come to fruition. But I did feel frustrated and perhaps a bit irresponsible for the gamble I was forcing my family to take. At that point, I had yet to financially justify even a fraction of the time spent trying to make a living online.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
In that moment I just wanted someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay. I felt lonely. Despite all the comments and emails and tweets, working online can sometimes feel void of the deep connections that keep us properly wired. I wasn’t looking for any platitudes or cheerleading from the blogging community, though that is where I vented, I needed someone who knew what makes me tick to help me oil my machinery.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I kept on going. My eternally supportive wife, swept the hair from my forehead and pet me for an hour or so as I lay on her chest and cried. She just kept repeating that I was her brilliant man and that everything would eventually happen. My partner, David Wright, said, “You’re the real fucking deal, dude. It’s just a matter of time.” It sounds so simple, but it meant the world to me that day. I knew I was on the right track, just letting the hunger growl in my belly a bit too loud.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
I felt mostly great, though a bit melancholy. I had a crippled horse of a blog that I had to put a couple bullets into. Even though that blog had offered little profit or reward, I still felt the sharp sting of defeat by letting it go. But I also felt the power of making the right decision and then digging both feet into the dirt behind it. About two weeks later, Ghostwriter Dad rose from Google’s sandbox and the phone finally started ringing.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
The biggest Someday Syndrome bobbing in my bay is that I want to really write. Fiction, non-fiction, anything really, so long as it doesn’t need grooming for social media traction or SEO or any other unwelcome palpitations to the steady beat of my ideal muse. I don’t care about seeing my name in a bookstore, but I do care about writing those things I truly long to write while cultivating an audience of eager readers.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
Right now I’m building my business so that I can crush the debt I’ve invited by stepping out into the unknown this year. Once my financial needs are met, I will have more time available for creative pursuits. I do try to tuck in as many moments as I can for my purely creative pursuits. The book Available Darkness, which I am co-writing with David, is, for me, a present day thing of beauty.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
We all make our own luck and it’s important to believe that diligent work does eventually pay. It is better to be an indentured servant for a sentence than a prisoner in perpetuity. If you want to be your own boss, go out and make it happen. But be prepared for the shit storm, because it’s part and parcel for the plan.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
I flew through the other questions. Trying to answer this one though, I realize now, I’ve been staring at the page for maybe 10 minutes. I guess I should pause and thank you for the question. Taking 10 minutes to think is a good thing.

Time is my biggest need, but it’s everybody else’s as well and nobody I know of is handing out any extra hours. So if I could ask for anything, I suppose it would be an unguarded conversation with someone in the publishing industry. I have a lot of questions, and it saddens me that the direction I wish to travel most is also (likely) the least lucrative. I would love to be convinced that isn’t so.