We are now officially in the second half of the year. I don’t know about you but it was a genuine shock to me, when I really thought about this. Before we know it, Spring Carnival will be upon us and we’ll be planning for Christmas.
This really makes me shudder. Where has the year gone?
I made an error at the start of this year. I didn’t make any plans, or set any goals. So I’ve been flippin’ around life dodging dodgeballs, putting out fires and generally just enjoying the ride. But I don’t feel like I’ve achieved a great deal in these last six months.
I’ve been writing a bit about living a considered life. The more I think about it, the more I believe this to be the right path for my family and I. Flying by the seat of my pants is damned fun – but the journey is mostly circular, rather than linear. Without a plan, destination or goal I feel like I’m going round in circles. I think plans are good, even if they change – having a plan helps me feel more energetic about life.
There’s a saying that gardeners use as a reminder when looking after roses, that I always think of at this time of year: “ Prune In June”. It’s a nice way to remember to cut back old foliage and dead buds; to allow regeneration and to make room for the spring blooms.
I like it and I think we can apply it to life. June is the start of winter here in the southern hemisphere, so it’s easy to shut the doors on the world, hibernate and regenerate a bit.
Here are some things that I’m going to try and focus on in the second half of the year.
1. I’m no Pollyanna, but I’ve been a bit shocked by how much anger people have in their hearts. I’m going to try and focus on not engaging with that. It brings me down and makes me a feel a bit sad and, if I’m honest, a bit sick. It’s hard not to be drawn in to this – moral outrage can provoke some quite extreme behaviours. No one wants to be swallowed up by other people’s anger. This will probably require me to disengage a bit from somethings I enjoy, but I figure this protection mechanism will just make more space for things and people with less anger.
So, doors close… others open… new blooms, so to speak.
2. I’m going to get out of the house and interact a bit more with real people. I work for myself, from home. So sometimes I feel a bit like the four walls of my home are closing in on me, and I want to run away. But I don’t really want to run away, I love the life I have carved out for myself. I’m very fortunate to have my life, I know this. But sometimes the cabin-fever is too much. Real people, real interactions. We are instinctually social creatures, some more so than others, so it seems counter-intuitive to not make room for this. The School of Life offer some fabulous events, as do The Wheeler Centre and the National Gallery, so more of that nourishing human interaction I think.
3. Checking in with my family. That might sound a bit strange given we live together between those aforementioned four walls, but the daily grind can mean that things can be happening under my nose that I’m not even aware of. Freeing up some time to just hang out – free play for kids and grown ups alike, is a great way to connect.
Beautiful things happen when you all find your flow together.
4. Although this is a bit boring, I’m going to set some professional goals. When you work for yourself there’s no one to answer to – no KPIs to meet, no outcomes to achieve, no overarching project goals. So it’s easy to faff around. But having some professional goals gives focus and direction. I find I achieve much more when I work towards something.
Research tell us that having a goal will make you happier and more fulfilled.
5. Kill the imposter syndrome. I think when you work alone, especially in a creative field, anxiety can rear up in many guises. Sometimes I suffer from Imposter Syndrome and if I’ve spent too long on my own, it can be crippling. I won’t go in to the peculiarities of my own version of this, and anyone who has suffered the same or similar certainly won’t need me to, as they will understand. But my most recent experience of this had me hanging up my typewriter and looking for a job doing data entry. This cultish experience of external validation can be absolutely paralysing – it sucks the life out of even the most robust personality. I’m yet to find a way to really manage this infrequent, but reliable visitor, but I’ll be looking at different strategies, so if you have any that have worked for you, please share. Setting some professional goals is part of this, so I at least have something measurable that I can draw on to talk myself down.
Six months is long enough for shit to happen – to get caught up and stuck in, and even defined by those events. ‘Prune in June’ is a nice way to start anew. It makes way for possibilities.
To be buoyed by possibilities is a powerful thing – we just need to clear the way.
What about you? Do you feel the need to ‘Prune in June’?