- a writing project that will unfold over any number of days or weeks
- a business planning retreat
- a class I’m taking over a number of weeks
There is a threat (a nerve-wracking, energy-sapping threat) of losing focus, of not being able to follow through and see it through to the end.
Sheer will power is not a strong point of mine.
I stumbled upon a solution many years ago.
I was worried that reliving painful memories would haunt me during non-writing times and I was loathe to open, as I said it, “that particular can of worms.”
My mentor suggested I get a container to open when I started work and close when I was finished.
Thus was born my “Can o’ Worms.” Literally. I took an empty can, duct taped the top so that I could open and close it, then filled with all sorts of stuff that reminded me (and put me in the heart space of) my angst-y teenage years.
I was able to begin right where I’d left off and, better yet, put it all back in when my time was up. It safe-guarded my emotional space outside and sparked the proper emotions while in it.
I started experimenting with the container concept and realized it was useful in a whole lot of instances.
container for your own extended work periods
that fits your style and your specific needs.
- A container of some sort (a jewelry box, a small cardboard box, a small basket with a top, a wooden box. Whatever catches your fancy. Use what you have.)
- Small items that symbolize the qualities you want to put into your time
- Paper and pens/markers
- A candle (in a fire safe holder)
What To Do:
To begin, spend some time thinking about how you would like your time to be. What emotional qualities do you hope to experience during your work? Focus? Courage? Confidence? Write down what comes up, trusting your instincts.
If you’d like you can use markers to write these words down on little slips of paper to add to you container.
Find objects around your house that reflect these qualities, like a ponytail holder for “flexibility” or a small rock for “consistency.”
Get creative and playful. Use what you’ve got lying around. Kids toys are a good place to glean little objects that work well, like the tiny teacup and slice of pie I use for “comfort.”
When you’re finished, close your box and extinguish your candle.
Make a concerted effort to be done as you’re closing up, and if you return to work remember to open the container again.
If you feel in need of a little extra of a particular kind of energy you can take it out of the box and keep it near you, even carrying it in your pocket if you go for a walk. Just remember to return it to the container when you’re done for the day.
As you work with your container and candle, imagine infusing them with energy of the work you’re doing: the intensity, the excitement, the potential, the passion, the possibility and the love. It’s like a storage unit – you can store it up for later use.
(And if the “woo-woo energy” explanation doesn’t work for you there’s also a psychological level at work: this is an association. Your mind builds an association between the feelings of your beloved work and the objects you’re working with. Later, looking at those objects will trigger those associations. You are building meaning into an object, creating a powerful symbol for yourself to carry you through the days of your work and beyond.)