A few weeks ago, I subscribed to a mini email training from the amazing Jeff Goins. He shared several ideas over the course of about two weeks about how to create and what to consider while creating. The one that resonated the most with me was:
Stop Measuring Results and Start Measuring the Process
At first, this seems ridiculous – what do you mean stop measuring results? How much I’ve created and how many pounds I’ve lost and how many items I’ve checked off my to-do list are the foundations of life, right? I mean, every goal guidance thing out there talks about how they need to be measurable.
And then I got a call from my agent who said that an editor really liked the book, really wanted to work on a deal, but couldn’t get all the necessary people on board to make it happen.
The reality of a creative is that there are going to be things we think we need to focus on – things like followers and likes and retweets and a certain number of pre-orders and how many things we created and how many someone else created and what we need to do to get to where they are and, and, and . . .
And we can easily become distracted, pulled away from the light of our craft and into the whirlpool of comparison. When I first started blogging WAY back in 2007 (on a totally different site and platform), it would take me an hour, at least, to write a 300 word post. If I have a solid idea, I can get 500-1000 words in about 10-15 minutes now.
When I first started writing, I needed to jump back to the beginning of the chapter to remember what I had written. It took A LOT of revisions for me to get my craft to where I thought it needed to be. Last month, I pulled up that old manuscript and did a quick scan. There are so many things that need to be fixed that, should I decide to try and move forward with that book, it would take a complete rewrite.
With this in mind, I created a free guide that will allow people who like/need to create to consider their process.
Measuring the Process as Parents
One of the trickiest things about parenting is that we often can’t see how things are going. It’s fast. Yes, some days are very, VERY slow, but the years of parenting go fast.
My kids turn 13, 15 & 17 before this month is over. I don’t know how I’m doing as a parent – I mean, not really. Yes, my 13yo has complimented how I’ve prepared her, and my 15yo said because she didn’t hit anyone while negotiating the shopping cart at the store, that she’s pretty much ready for college, there’s really no way to know how I’m doing.
But I can measure how I react when parenting. When my 17yo forgot where he put his prom ticket while on his way to get his date, I didn’t break into a lecture conversation about responsibility, but wrote a check so he could buy it again, then helped him retrace his steps. A few years ago, he and I would have both gotten heated in the situation. Our process over the last year has been working toward intentional communication and owning when we are not as we should be. Had I focused on the results, I would have had guilt that I hadn’t taught him more responsibility and he would have had shame for losing something that was meaningful to him.
By the way, the ticket was in the jockey box in the car he takes to school. He wanted to keep it in a nice, safe place. He just forgot what that place was.
Measuring the Process as Couples
I have talked to many people who are discontinuing a long-term relationship, usually through divorce. When asked what happened, there are often occasions of infidelity, but more often than not, these people will talk about just . . . drifting apart.
Michael Hyatt shares one of the greatest insights I’ve heard about the dangers of drifting. I know that it has happened to each of us, whether in a small context (where did that hour go?) or broad (what did I do all year?!?). It’s just so EASY. The kids need and our jobs are and the community should and the people who we thought we loved more than anyone else get our sloppy seventh efforts in the last few exhausted minutes of a day.
Enoch and I have had these drifting, exhausted times at several different points in our marriage. There have been nights when we have fallen asleep each hugging our “own” side of the queen mattress, and some nights when one of us has opted to sleep on the couch rather than risk touching the person who we are supposed to trust the most. I still remember the day when we had to make a choice: work on us or stop being us.
Since, our process has gotten better. We communicate about kid events through a shared calendar and double checking plans a few days or hours ahead. We go out, on a date, without the kids, almost every Friday. We have a process in place where, when we are feeling mad, sad, frustrated, or furious, we use Brené Brown’s line of, “The story I’m telling myself is . . .” We no longer try to hide things we are feeling from each other (as much – people, this is a work in progress). Our process is to be more open, more vulnerable and it has led to us being more intimate (which means way more than having a good love life).
Simply saying “We’ve been married 19 years in July” sounds like a result, but the result could also mean “We haven’t worn each other down enough to separate yet.” When it comes to love and connection, the result is often invisible and equally often insignificant. The process of loving? That’s where we can really start to see a change.
Measuring the Process of Self
I’ve always been tall. I don’t ever remember becoming tall. I didn’t really notice that I was passing up friends until I’d passed them. I didn’t realize I could reach high things until I’d reached them. We can’t really tell when we are growing until we see how much we’ve grown.
But we can be mindful of the way that we are nurturing ourselves during the growth.
I’m guessing that most of you readers are no longer growing in the vertical sense. But our process of growth is still something valuable, something that we could reflect upon. I didn’t realize how heavy life with depression had become until a few months ago when I was easily laughing at something on TV. Until my son and I had a ridiculously sarcastic (and borderline inappropriate) conversation that got funnier when Enoch couldn’t understand why we were laughing.
That’s the way it is, when it comes to caring for ourselves. We can’t see the change within us until we’ve changed. This is one of the reasons that having someone tell us we have a mental health issue isn’t as trustworthy as a doctor telling us we have a disease.
This is true for all kinds of health: mental, emotional & physical. We don’t realize we are gaining weight until our pants don’t fit, we don’t realize life has been heavy or frantic until it’s overwhelming, we don’t realize that the thoughts we are thinking are not real until we immerse ourselves in reality.
And if we are going to honor measuring the process, we have to be as patient trying to heal, recover and mend as we were when the drift was happening. It’s harder, I know, because we are now aware, and that awareness can be uncomfortable to live with. But as we are becoming healthier, we need to remember what Jeff Goins said at the beginning – measure the process, not the result.
It takes mindful practice. It takes reflection and reevaluation. But I’m convinced learning to honor all our processes will allow us to experience a more fulfilled life.