By the time my first book, Money: A Love Story, hit the shelves, I was already burned out.
Our marketing plan and efforts, while impressive and effective, turned out to be too much. So much too much, in fact, that when my publisher came asking for another book after the first one came out, I said no. Several times.
Quite similar to the feeling I had after giving birth to both of our girls, I could not imagine going back and doing the whole thing over again. EVER.
I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I was sick of talking about money. I felt dried up. My creativity was in hiding.
While I’m proud of saying no because I knew in my bones it wasn’t the right time, I spend a lot of time and energy beating myself up for not being out there ready to go with the next big idea.
It seemed like everyone else who’d had books come out around the same time was off to the races working on their next thing. Everyone seemed like they knew what they were doing except me.
I was afraid that my worst fear was true: I had nothing unique to add to the world, my success up to this point had been solely based on nepotism, and I was likely a one-hit wonder.
What I wish I’d known then is that my experience was right on time in the grand cycle of creativity that I now call the Upward Cycle of Success.
The planet has 4 distinct seasons, each with a critical job in the life cycle of all plants and animals.
The moon has 4 distinct phases, each signalling a critical job the moon is doing with respect to the tides and stabilizing Earth’s rotation.
The menstrual cycle has 4 distinct parts, each with a critical job in reproduction and a woman’s creative energy in every other area of her life.
After waiting and waiting and waiting and wondering if I would ever be one of those people who felt called to do something, I had a moment of insight as I was Googling the phases of the moon and the menstrual cycle for a blog one day:
If the earth, the moon, and my body have these 4 distinct, and energetically similar phases, my creative projects must as well.
I realized that taking a looooong pause after the publication of my book wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t lazy. I wasn’t useless. I didn’t suck.
I was simply experiencing a critical phase in the Upward Cycle of Success (UCS), the creative life cycle of any project, that I call the Fertile Void. This phase had an important job to do and was a valuable use of my time.
The other 3 phases of the UCS are Emergence (the springtime of a project), Visibility (the summer), and Culmination (the autumn of the creative cycle.)
I was in winter when it came to book publishing. And the winter lasted 4 years. It took much longer than I wished it had taken, but I’m also incredibly grateful I didn’t rush out before I was truly ready because what I now know is:
What I know now is that deep, fertile creation requires patience. There’s a period of time where it seems like nothing is happening, but a lot is happening. That 4-year Fertile Void was incredibly productive because I needed that fallow period for rest, reflection, and a TON of lessons that I got while getting married and having our first baby.
We all have a pulse of creative expression running through us. It can be our guide to our most vibrant, profound creations if we’re willing to follow it.
The blueprint for this creative cycle that you can tap into at any time is within the pages of my forthcoming book, Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time Management for Busy Moms.
No matter what you’re working on, no matter what you’re waiting for, and no matter what you feel everyone has figured out except for you, know this:
We’ve been brainwashed by a doing-obsessed culture that the path to salvation is through doing more. But the secret to a life well-lived is actually doing less, in a specific, deliberate way that the earth, the moon, and our bodies have been doing for millenia without even trying.
All we have to do is listen to what’s already happening within us and around us. All we have to do is remember who we really are and where we came from.
What area of your life is taking longer to bloom than you wish? Which phase of the Upward Cycle of Success do you think it’s in? Tell me in the comments!
P.S. You can get started doing less to have more immediately with the thank-you gifts for pre-ordering Do Less. Click here to pre-order your copy and receive your gifts.
Get more articles like this sent straight to your inbox!
By signing up for my newsletter you'll receive weekly emails from me and occasional promotions. I take your privacy very seriously and will never distribute or sell your email address or information.