When you own your business, you have freedom to set your schedule and choose your clients. You also have freedom from a regular paycheck, reduced healthcare costs, and shoving the blame for bad decisions somewhere else. Not all freedoms are equal.
Looking at my schedule, I see it's not as full as last month's. I immediately feel fear, financial stress, and worry. That's how I face most problems. Trouble is, those emotions don't solve problems. So I sit down to a meeting with my fear and stress. This is actually a great form of meditation. Instead of pushing all thoughts out of my head, as many ways of meditation instruct, I invite fear, uncertainty, and stress in. I sit with them, and ask them what they have to contribute.
"If you don't get work soon, you will lose the house," Fear said, getting right to the bottom line.
"But you only know training and writing and journaling, and that isn't being used in this economy," said Uncertainty, "and you don't know anything about wielding a shovel for all those shovel-ready projects," Uncertainty added.
"You are too old to get back to school, and that would take too long to retrain you, so you better stop eating or driving, because you are in bad trouble," Stress said.
"Thanks for letting me know, " I said, "but once we've established all that, what comes next? You've told me what isn't working, but what can I do that will work?"
Fear, Uncertainty and Stress were quiet. Fear spoke up first. "Well, if you don't do something, you will be in big trouble."
"OK," I said, "But that's the same thing you already said. I want to hear something I can do, undertake, think about." Again, Fear, Uncertainty and Stress were quiet. They had not been quiet for a long time. Every time I sat down to meditate, they would clamor so loudly that I could not meditate. I spent all my time chasing them out of my head.
By inviting them in, listening to them, and asking for specifics, they had exhausted their efforts in the shortest of time. So we sat there, in silence, until I said, "Well, I teach several courses on journaling. I could write a workbook on one of them, and that would reach a bigger audience. And my friend Helen has some really good art ideas, maybe we could put a class together that neither one of us could teach separately.
Fear, Uncertainty and Stress immediately began to talk over each other, bringing up reasons why neither of those ideas would work. And I argued with them, facing each objection, thinking it through, and answering it.
At the end of the hour of meditation, I had a plan. I would spend a portion of the next month writing the workbook, another part looking for coaching clients, and another part working with Helen to see if we could develop an interesting, fun class.
I felt happy and hopeful. Because I sat down with Fear, Uncertainty, and Stress and listened to them, I saw that they didn't really have good ideas. They were disruptive and bothersome, but the more I chased them out of my meditation space, the more time and effort they used. Inviting them in and facing them reduced their importance and gave me enough space to come up with ideas that might work. Arguing with them allowed me to overcome objections and refine the plan, to put a time limit on my efforts, and to create time to do it.
Meditation is not sitting in perfect inspiration. It's work, and it doesn't always demand an empty mind. Just a clear one.