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Dear Friends,

I'm in a "I don't really wanna do the work" mood today. I used to think that one day I would find the perfect career and I would never have these days again. In the right career, I thought, I would launch myself out of bed every day, thrilled to meet the challenge of the day ahead. Whee!

I am wiser now, and I have a job that I love, and I think maybe days like this will always happen. I've learned to go with it. Energy ebbs and flows, and that's what today's newsletter is about.
A giraffe peers down curiously against a deep, clear blue sky.

How to Keep Going (When You're Out of the Groove)

I've been studying Korean since October 2018, and recently a friend asked me how it was going. I said, "Enh, it's okay... I'm learning new words and picking up some grammar, but I haven't really worked on listening or speaking lately."

She replied, sarcastically, "You sound excited." And she was right — I'm not really excited about Korean lately. I miss the classes, the meetups with friendly native speakers, the tantalizing possibility of someday visiting South Korea. But I made a commitment to studying the language, so I persist.

But how do you keep at something when the spark has dimmed?
 

What's the Why?


Think back to when you started your thing. Whether it's a building a new business, starting a non-profit organization, or learning a language or a musical instrument, there must have been a good reason, a reason that motivated you at a deep level.

Connect your thing to your values: community, music, travel, financial security, family. (If you are not sure what your values are, you can use my values worksheet to figure them out.)

Really try to marinate in that reason: envision the lives you will change with your work, imagine yourself sending money back home to your parents, picture yourself at a party leading a rousing sing-along on your guitar.
 

Minimum Consistent Effort


Remembering why you're doing something is all very well and — who knows — maybe it will restore your energy, but there will always be periods when you're short of energy or time. The key to persisting through those troughs is minimum consistent effort: the least you can do on a regular basis to keep the thing alive.

Minimum because you don't have a lot to spare, of course, but also because you don't want to let the thing take up so much precious time and energy that you feel like you have to give it up altogether. If you figure out the least amount of attention you can pay to something in order to keep it in the air, you can keep doing it indefinitely.

Consistency is the real secret sauce.  When you keep working on something, you make progress, however slow, towards your goal. Like compound interest on a small monthly investment, consistency pays off big in the end.  

Daily or weekly effort also holds a place for your thing in your life and in your identity. If you stop practicing cello for a week, no big deal. If you stop for two weeks, you're going to have to catch up, but you're still learning cello. If you stop for a month... you're not really learning cello any more.

Not only have you lost the practical habit of practicing, you've lost the idea of yourself as someone who does the thing. And that might be harder to pick back up again.  But even if you only play for five minutes a day, that five minutes is enough to keep a toe in the door.

So figure out what five minutes a day looks like for your thing, and keep doing it.


Forgive and Have Faith


Two more ingredients round out this persistence pie: forgiveness and faith.

Forgive yourself for being tired or bored or sick, forgive yourself for skipping a day, forgive yourself for choosing to do the minimum for now. Life happens.

And have faith that you'll get your groove back. Because eventually, something will change about your energy — you'll meet someone, get enough rest, the pandemic will end, you'll read a book or listen to a podcast — and you'll regain your enthusiasm. And when you do, you'll be glad that you plodded away at the thing every day or every week, because you won't have to start over. The investment you made will pay off.
 

What's NewStriding purposefully into a better future I hope

I feel like I'm getting some traction lately. Team coach training has started in earnest (does anyone identify as a leader and want to be interviewed for my first assignment?), my book club met in person, I got paid, my coach certification is being assessed, I'm connecting with people online and offline.

Lately I've been participating in a lot of events, both independent and run by the International Coach Federation, to discuss anti-racism in coaching (and coaching in anti-racism). There's been a lot of earnest confessions of ignorance (everyone starts somewhere) but also serious conversations about how and what to change. I'm glad to be part of the work.

New clients, new readers, new communities, new learning. Things are happening!

Fun and Interesting

  • We need to identify what not to do. But this determination can’t be random. It must be methodical and evidence-based. I think by now it's generally known that if you're going to say yes to something, you have to say no to something else. In this article, Kate Northrup presents a heuristic to determine what to say no to. (I love a heuristic.) Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less [hbr.org]
  • Our brains work hard to bend reality to meet our prior experiences, our emotions, and our discomfort with uncertainty. This Vox article from Brian Resnick is a wild ride from optical illusions through neuroscience to magical thinking and finally political and racial bias. (Thanks to a reader for sending me this article.) “Reality” is constructed by your brain. Here’s what that means, and why it matters [vox.com]
  • I'm pretty sure I shared something about how to make your video calls look better a few months ago, but hey, we could use a refresher, and this guy is funny. How to shoot cinematic video calls with Ivan D'Antonio [youtube.com]

Credit where Credit is Due

Last week I talked about living in the now or being in the moment or whatever, and I do think it's a great thing to practice. But I also know that the practice comes from a deeper tradition. Mindfulness is an idea from Buddhism that is often presented in a way that seems suspiciously simple and oriented towards self-improvement and increased productivity. I do not fully understand the interplay of cultural appropriation, corporate mindfulness, Buddhism, and colonialism, but I acknowledge that there is something fishy going on and I should learn more. I found this article by Edwin Ng and Ron Purser and this one by Max Zahn for starters — if you have any other recommendations about this, or about how mindfulness shows up in other cultures, I welcome them.

Thank you for reading this far!

If you like what you read, hit reply and let me know, or forward it and let someone else know. If you have questions or comments, hit reply and let me know. If you have seen something interesting out there, hit reply and let me know. Are you seeing a trend here? If so... hit reply and let me know! I look forward to hearing from you. ❤️

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Copyright © 2020 Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching, All rights reserved.


I live and work on land which for thousands of years has been part of the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat. Today, this meeting place is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and I am glad to be able to live and work here.

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