This morning I wrote my second ever Morning Pages. For those of you thinking ‘wtf?’, Morning Pages are when you write freely for about 20 minutes, scribbling down whatever the hell pops into your head. Preferaby in the morning. You don’t think, you don’t edit, you don’t search for that perfect linguistic combo to describe your heartbreak at the state of the world, you just write.
I’ve resisted this idea for a long time in light of my deep-rooted beliefs that it’s a) wanky, and b) a ruse by some cynical profiteer to brand an activity which, when all’s said and done, is just writing. It is entirely possible that my own bitter jealousy and resentment of people who have Good Ideas and Execute Them Brilliantly plays a part here. As it happens, and as is usually the case, I am being proved wrong.
Two forces wove together neatly to make this morning a morning for morning pages. Firstly, the clocks going back. I genuinely love waking up naturally, looking at my clock, and it being significantly earlier than I had expected. Today, it was 6.53am. As an aside, it took me four years to realise that iPhones automatically change the clock when the time zone changes. Wait, is it a time zone? Or time season? What’s it called? Anyway, the point is that it was before 7am on a Sunday and I was awake and I WANTED to be awake. Second aside — all the parents of young children out there who are like ‘bitch I could happily stab you right now’ — sorry (not sorry).
The second important factor was having attended the Animas summit yesterday, an annual conference held by my coaching school where lots of wonderful people share their journey to building a business (no one having yet found a less-clichéd way of saying ‘journey’). It was amazing and motivating and thought-provoking and seems to have FINALLY moved me on from ‘I am jealous of everyone who is successful and I secretly hope they fail’, to ‘I am massively inspired by others following their dream’. It only took a year…
So I wrote my morning pages, and something interesting came up. After I’d offloaded the habitual round of crap and petty nonsense that skips around my mind, mainly concerning food, money and paint colours (this is a new one), something very interesting jumped out. A realisation. It was simply this.
Good enough is no longer good enough. Only my full potential is good enough.
Let me explain.
I’ve always found things pretty easy. Work-wise, I mean. Clearly, growing up as a slightly chubby ginger kid with sticky-out ears that had to be surgically pinned back, a squint and NHS glasses was no walk in the park. But when it came to DOING stuff, I seemed to find it quite straightforward to do just enough.
I skipped 50% of French A-Level classes to the eternal fury and irritation of my best friends, got an A and won the French prize. I spent my final year at university largely pissed and trying to get the attention of all the sexy French Erasmus guys (the crucial word being ‘trying’), emerging with a 2:1 and a graduate job in London. I moved to Paris on a whim and landed a good marketing role. I spent many years at an excellent consultancy doing almost entirely what I wanted, getting a couple of promotions, a sabbatical and transfers to whichever country I wanted to live in that particular year.
But here’s what I started to realize this morning. I’ve never reached my full potential, because The Life Stuff has always been more important to me than The Work Stuff.
It was more important to me at 17 to spend time with my first boyfriend, bombing around Bedford in his spectacular white Nissan Micra, than it was to try and get into Oxford. It was more important to me at 20 to make the most of my last year of uni with the parties and weekend trips to exotic places like Brittany and Grimsby, than it was to try and get a first-class degree. It was more important to me at 24 to move to Paris and pursue a new relationship, than it was to try and be the youngest ever Category Manager at Sainsbury’s. And it was more important to me at 29 to have the freedom to travel, move to New York, be with the love of my life and eventually quit work to explore my curiosities, than it was to keep rising through the ranks, earning more and more money. As long as I was good enough to keep moving forward and doing what I wanted, that was enough.
But not any more. Because now the work stuff IS the life stuff. It’s all woven together. I want to make good money doing work I love. I want to be known. I want to live wherever I (we) want at any given time. I want to raise a family in the way that’s right for us, not overshadowed by other peoples’ fear and rules about parenthood. I want to play my part to make the world a happier, more connected place to live and die, by coaching people to become happier and more connected to themselves. And in order to do all that stuff, good enough is no longer good enough. Only my full potential is good enough.
And that, according to my head and heart this morning, is a completely equal mix of motivating and terrifying.