When output is heavy

August 22, 2013

Last week, Sarah articulated so beautifully what I too have been feeling — always, to some extent, and the last several months in particular — in my attempts to publish content:

Meanwhile, the world is so beautiful and delightful, and I’m having epiphanies and not sharing them, because…output is so heavy. It’s hard to make something that’s good enough for you. (I mean me.) Being a perfectionistic entrepreneur is rather like being an octopus with 100 pound weights tied to each leg. Producing anything worth consuming has become painfully slow.

Why do I need to be so great, anyway? Is it because the world needs more greatness? If so, do I think I am personally responsible to provide greatness to the world? Am I really that enamored with my own significance, or on the other hand, am I trying to rebel against my relative insignificance?

This is why my newsletter subscribers haven’t heard from me since January. This is why my husband had to listen to me talk for two hours about all the reasons blogging isn’t sustainable for me. This is why Instagram has become my social platform of choice. This is why the only content I seem to post on Facebook these days are articles and videos — and I don’t even write my own captions for said links but merely quote the authors. It feels like 100-pound weights hanging from all eight of my legs, this business of output.

And I have a feeling that Sarah and I aren’t alone in this.

I wish I could tell you that I read Sarah’s post and immediately wrote out an eight-step plan to finding lightness in output. But that isn’t the case. I don’t even have a one-step plan. All I have are a few reminders that I’m saying to me and that I would say to you too.

Grace

Grace upon grace — that’s what you should extend to yourself. Don’t let anyone guilt you about neglecting your list. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s simple and easy and you just need to write shorter and simpler and stop holding your output to such high standards. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior by telling you how easy it is for them. Maybe your list does miss you, and maybe you could publish some messier blog posts once in awhile, and yes, output is easier for some people than others — but you have to start from a place of grace. Grace for who you are, for where you are, for how you are.

Truth

I would bet that all of us feeling this heaviness of output are actually producing a ton of stuff. It doesn’t translate to retweets and can’t be tracked in Mailchimp, but it’s happening and it is significant. For me, finding truth has required some objectivity. I’ve done just as much business this year as last year, even though it doesn’t feel like it. I’ve been writing a ton, even though none of it is published (yet). I’ve been building a ton, even though none of it is public (yet). Go to a place of truth, not a place of expectation.

Ideas

In the midst of this, I’m still musing on ways to make output lighter. One of my goals for this year was to live a less burdened life. Clearly, aspects of my output have collapsed under the burdens I’ve placed on them. What does it look like to unburden my output? Can I drop a few of those 100-pound weights? Do I need to develop more muscle in some of those legs so I can carry the weight more easily? Can someone else come alongside and carry one of those weights with me?

How is output feeling for you? If it’s heavy, tell me about it. If it’s light, tell me about it. What do you do when output that was light becomes heavy? How did you transform heaviness into lightness?

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Creating

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