These are the lessons I’ve learned thus far on my journey to give myself more grace.
Commit to Working More on Yourself than Your Business
Because my mindset determines the direction of everything I do, I’ve learned to prioritize my personal development over my business. I’ve realized that adequate rest, a healthy body, and a healthy sense of self-worth aren’t optional; they’re required for increased creativity and productivity. My self-esteem affects how I interact with others and make business decisions.
I accept that to triumph in the daily battle, I must have a strong faith/mind and be rooted in something greater than myself.
I am my best work, and when I am good, everything around me is good. To quote the African proverb, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you.” (Unknown)
There is only one way to eat an elephant, according to Desmond Tutu, and that is one mouthful at a time. He meant that everything in life that appears difficult, overpowering, or even impossible may be completed gradually by taking on just a little at a time.
I was stressed when I first got the edits for my black history book back. “This is going to take forever,” I thought.
But that’s because I was looking at the entire book with no system or organization to get it done. It was just one big pile of words that needed to be sorted out. So, what did I do?
I left it alone a couple days.
The time helped me to see how I would attack it. I decided to work on two chapters at a time. And by work on, I mean do everything that needed to be done: revise, add citations, summarize. Using a dope Black history planner I ordered from Black Prints on Instagram, I blocked off the entire month of January and February with the chapters I would do for each day, leaving one day (every Sat) as a rest day where I would not work on the book at all.
This changed my outlook immensely!
I find myself looking forward to work instead of dreading it (even the boring stuff like formatting citations). If a chapter is short enough, I could do three in one day. With this system, I am already on chapters six and seven.
Doing less feels like I am getting more done!
Moral: Few people who want to write a book get around to doing it because they are thinking about writing a whole book. But how about just writing a chapter? And if that’s too much, a paragraph?
If you can commit to writing a certain amount a day instead of all at once, you will look up to a finished book in no time.
However, it’s equally important to honor your commitments, or this strategy does not work. That’s the thing about writing, no one can do it for you. If you say you will write a chapter a day, try really hard to write a chapter a day.
I am really not all that organized. I just honor the commitments I make to myself.
I would also recommend staying within schedule. While I do three chapters if the two I have for the day are short, I never go on to four.
We might be at the start of a new year, but it is still the dead of winter. Everything else in nature is still resting and storing strength for the spring. By then, the grass will turn green again, and new life will erupt from what I call the real new year: when everything in nature renews and is reborn.
I cannot help but wonder why we, as people from the earth, aren’t more like it. Why do we feel the need to rush ourselves through life? What would happen if we took five to six months to rest, plan, strategize, pray, meditate, and think? What kind of wisdom would we cultivate in this space of solitude? How much more impact would we make if we were well-rested and revitalized instead of busy and drained?
I think of this as I return from my break and continue my work. Except for this year, that work includes rest and joy. I’m not panicked or anxious about letting people know what I am up to or doing. I am not swayed by what others are doing on social media or concerned about needing to do more because I recognize I am not behind or late. I am where I need to be, and the things I need to get done will get done, each in its own time.
I am excited about the future in ways I have not been before because stepping back and slowing down will help me be laser-focused on one thing at a time, which will help me accomplish more.
In no way do I intend to be booked and busy this year. I’d instead be paid and productive because productivity includes rest.
In this season, I am embracing the beauty of unhurriedness.
These days, I am focusing more on shifting my mindset from trying to figure out how to do something new to maximize what I already have. This includes how to best nurture my personal and business relationships.
Gone are the days of randomly following people on social media and only liking their posts. How can we actually work together? I hope to participate in more collaborations.
We spend so much time at the start of the year trying to figure out what new, shiny thing we can go after when we already have shiny things around us and within us. How can we repurpose content we already have into something greater? How can we build on relationships we’ve already fostered into something better?
Instead of “What can I do?” I ask myself, “What can I do with what I have?”
Going forward, I am reminding myself that my gifts have no limits.
And I hope you are too.
From teaching and mentoring to sitting down on panels with the crème de la crème to share your perspective, Self-Publishing a book is about far more than book royalties. It is also the easiest way to become an authority in your field. It puts you in rooms you would otherwise not be qualified to be in.
And, while Maya Angelou spoke six languages, studied modern dance in San Francisco, and spent a year in New York studying African dance with Pearl Primus, she never went to college.
Malcolm and Maya both lectured at universities, although they never attended one. The people came to them despite them not having the degrees and certifications because they were exceptional at being themselves.
People will pay you to be yourself. To talk your talk. To let your light shine.
While writing books, I remember that I am not limited to only writing books. I can use my gifts to make an even more significant impact.
I was twenty-two years old when I loc’d my hair. It is the only other time it has been this short (or a little shorter than this).
As a spiritual-minded person, I do not think of hair as just hair. I see it also as energy. (I believe the keratin protein in hair contains crystalline structures that act as energy amplifiers and antennas.) Thus, as the years have gone by, a lot of energy has been built into my locs. Some of it good, some of it not so good.
While there is the power of all I’ve accomplished, there is also the energy of losing loved ones. The energy of miscarriages. The energy of depression and sadness. As the years passed, my hair became more burdensome. They are thick and healthy but heavy. I saw this as much more than the weight of hair, but the weight of all I was still carrying after thirteen years of growth.
While I don’t think I will ever cut my locs off completely (I love my hair!), the symbolism of my cut is a cutting off of toxic emotions stored in my hair over the years and a separation from the past. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual cleansing through the release of the old and embracing the new. As I let go of those old branches, I await the beauty of the new ones to come in.
Just as pruning trees helps to remove portions that have a disease, fungi, and other types of decay, my trim represents the removal of those parts of my hair that can spread to the other “branches” and prevent them from healthier growth. It helps expose my scalp to more sunlight, air circulation makes it easier to wash and sleep, and it does not hurt my neck and back.
I feel this all on both a physical and spiritual level.
I love the overall freedom this new look gives me. I literally felt a weight lift when these heavy locs hit the floor.
This year, I intend to live more freely. I do not want to rush to do anything, conform to anyone’s ideas, or allow myself to be limited in any way. I am here for it all. This haircut is a symbol of this freedom.
I am excited about this new beginning.
PS. Exciting new update on the Black History book coming!!
Social media is a powerful vehicle for publishing short-form content that people can digest quickly and easily. We are all lazy to an extent with short attention spans.
Which is why I love blogging as a way of publishing long-form content.
It gives writers a chance to fully express the completeness of their thoughts. And, if you are long-winded like me, I enjoy being able to thoroughly add context to my thoughts with examples to nurture further understanding.
Blogging also helps me to keep writing in those spaces when I am not actively writing a book. (I wrote more about that here) This is important because it means I can continue to sharpen my writing skills (through actually writing) and engage with others even when I haven’t published anything new.
But there’s an exciting twist!
Blogging has, so far, helped me to publish two books, with another on the way. That’s because, unlike static websites, blogs are updated regularly, allowing people to leave immediate feedback and share. Authors can see how their content performs in real-time, producing invaluable information they can apply later.
One of the most powerful ways blogging helps me is my ability to repurpose the content I publish here into larger works. Thus, even when I don’t think I am laying the foundation for new works, I am!