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A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a woman who had read the Playing Big book. She shared with me that it had helped her take a huge leap – she had left her corporate job and started her own business.
That business was thriving, but now she had a new dilemma. It had been exhilarating to build the business, but just a few years in, the work wasn’t feeling as exciting anymore. Her thoughts had started to drift toward something related, but different.
She felt confused by this, a little guilty, and stuck. The venture she had built was very successful, and she knew that was not to be taken for granted. She had designed her business to provide exactly the kind of work and schedule she desired, so how could she be tiring of it? Plus, the people around her (she felt) expected she’d be doing this for a long time. She could hardly imagine announcing to her friends and family she was making yet another change.
Now, my conversation with her would have been very different if she had said to me, “I started a business but I lost all my interest a few weeks in. And I’ve done that so many times before. I can never settle on anything.”
Some of us struggle with seeing things through. Some of us get scared if it looks like our project might be successful. Some of us flee when they get hard. Some of us retreat simply when the work gets real. Those behaviors are a signal to work through our fears, to learn new ways of getting through our own difficult emotions so we can indeed build something substantial.
But that wasn’t her situation. She had created something. She had stuck it out through the early phases and tough stages and built an organization. And now she was hungering for something else.
Here’s what I said to her:
“You created something amazing, and now you get to do it again.
And you get to do it again and again and again and again your whole life long.”
This is one of the truest things about us as human beings, and it’s also one of the truths that has been most repressed and even demonized.
When someone told us we can be only one thing – an artist or an engineer or a devoted mom – that truth got lost.
When someone told us the primary measure of success was sticking with something, that truth got lost.
When we learned that growing things bigger and bigger was more important, or more legitimate, than seeing them through a cycle of beginning/living/ending, that truth got lost.
There are truths we need to remember:
As humans, we create – ideas, objects, innovations, institutions, families, gatherings, communities.
We are creative beings. This is the core of our very nature.
We can make our whole life a series of creative endeavors.
And, what this woman most needed to hear:
It is natural to feel a creative hunger for the next thing when we have completed the arc of creating the thing before.
It is healthy. It is for the good. In fact, it is how life keeps us in the flow of life.
I offer this for all of us today: when you have created, if you have made something entirely, or simply to the point of your own satisfaction – your being will hunger for the next thing.
We need to give ourselves permission around this. Permission for creative appetite.
You have full permission to go create the next thing.
And even better: you get to do that again, and again, and again, and again, your whole life long.
photo by: Jared Sluyter