Back in January, a mentor of mine who I love and deeply respect told me that she could sense that 2017 was going to be “my year.”
Let me say that while I trust her wisdom as much as I ever have, now that we’re days away from 2018 I can definitively tell you that 2017 was not my year. Or anyone else’s, so far as I can tell.
I’m sure we’ve all had individual highs and great moments we can point to, but I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks 2017 was an awesome year.
I think I speak for more than just myself when I say that it was intense, divisive, messy, and difficult. It wasn’t particularly fun or enjoyable a lot of the time, and I for one am glad to see it in my rearview mirror.
Zora Neale Hurston once said, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
I think 2017 was a BIG “asking” kind of year — a time of reckoning. The kind of year where things have to get worse before they get better, and where you’ve got to be “shaken” to get “awakened.”
THE DANGER OF COMPLACENCY
Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about the danger of living a life that’s “OK, but not great.”
And because we always end up teaching what we most need to learn, that was something I struggled a lot with this year, particularly when it comes to running a business.
It’s no secret that while I love the actual coaching (and writing) part of Clarity on Fire, I’ve never loved the business-running aspect of having a business.
And to be honest, I spent 100% of 2016 and two-thirds of 2017 pretty severely burnt out. Which makes sense, given the kind of monumental effort it takes to get a business off the ground in the first place.
Basically, Kristen and I gave it non-stop energy for about 3 years, and once it was mostly self-sufficient, we crashed. We did what we needed to do to stay the course and maintain stability, but for about 2 years we have not been interested in growth.
Which, let me point out, is totally OK. We go through seasons in life, just like the world around us — we were in a “winter” sort of phase where all we wanted to do was hermit, cocoon, and do the bare minimum in order to rebuild our energy.
But over time, too much stability can pretty quickly turn into complacency, which is what happened.
I COULDN’T HELP BUT ASK SOME UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS
The thing about being in a state of complacency, toleration, stagnation, settling — whatever you want to call it — is that it requires very little energy to maintain. You can kind of skate by; you may not be having high-highs, but you’re not having low-lows, either.
That’s why so many of us are afraid to leave an “OK, not great” situation — because we realize we have something to lose and that things could very easily get worse.
For all of 2016 and most of 2017, I was cool with just staying the course. But by August of this year, I was starting to chafe and get antsy. I was getting tired of the way things were, but I wasn’t yet sure what I wanted to do about it.
I started having uncomfortable questions bubble up within me like, “Is this even what I want to DO anymore?” and “What if I just up and quit and did something else?”
This was majorly annoying, because I’d been mostly fine with the way things were up until then, so why was I all of a sudden starting to ask major existential questions? Why couldn’t I just shut up and not rock the boat?
BECAUSE LIFE WAS PREPARING TO SLINGSHOT ME
Here’s what I now realize was happening: Humans (myself and you included) are historically terrible at motivating themselves when they’re in a place of stability. Real motivation tends to kick in when things hit rock bottom — when there’s a fire lit under your butt that propels you to want to change.
Often times, the best way to motivate people is with the slingshot effect — where you get pulled down into a worse situation, only to gain the momentum you need to rocket forward later on.
2017 was definitely a slingshot year for me. I grew tired of so many aspects of business that hadn’t bothered me up until now, and I asked myself some pretty tough questions about what I wanted.
In hindsight, I realize that the reckless desire to up and quit and/or burn it all down wasn’t real; it was just the slingshot effect forcing me to reckon with the things I was settling for that I needed to grow beyond.
I think 2017 was also a HUGE slingshot year for America and the world, as a whole. I won’t bother getting into the details because I’m sure we can all think of a million examples that fit the analogy.
The point is … if things feel like they’ve gotten worse, don’t automatically despair. That’s often the precursor to bigger and better things.
WHERE I’M GOING IN 2018
One of the most uncomfortable things about the slingshot effect is the space between being pulled back and being propelled forward.
Nancy Levin talks about needing to “honor the space between ‘no longer’ and ‘not yet,’” which is exactly what I’m feeling right now.
Ignorance is bliss for a reason. It’s WAY harder to clearly see everything that needs to be changed and still live in a world where nothing has actually changed yet.
Since August, I’ve become aware of a LOT of things that I want to change about Clarity on Fire, but I haven’t been able to implement most of them yet.
Here’s a good example: After years of building up an email list that has tens of thousands of subscribers, there are a lot of duds on our list (if you’re reading this, you’re definitely not one of them). You know, the kind of people who took the Passion Profile Quiz and ended up on our list, but never open anything.
Kristen and I are going to do a massive purge of our list in 2018, which is pretty scary. Most people wouldn’t recommend that you delete thousands of subscribers from your community. But I’d rather take a massive step back, in one way, in order to make room for people who might resonate with us more.
I trust that there will be a payoff … but definitely not an immediate one.
I think that many of the other changes I want to make in 2018 will eventually make us more money … but at first, we may make less. Which is scary as hell.
I get why I didn’t want to make any big changes for a long time — the space between ‘no longer’ and ‘not yet’ is not for the feint of heart:
- I’ve refused to break up with guys I didn’t want to be with anymore for fear of being completely alone post-old relationship but pre-new relationship.
- I’ve stayed in jobs I didn’t enjoy because I wanted to figure everything out before I took a risk, and avoid the uncomfortable middle part.
- I’ve avoided new exercise regimens because I didn’t want to deal with the physical pain of ‘no longer’ out of shape, but ‘not yet’ in
But if anything, this year taught me that life isn’t very interesting when you’re trying to live in a state of complacency.
I’m still a bit tired, and I’m definitely wary, but I’ve decided that I’d rather strap myself into the slingshot, get pulled back, and breathe through the discomfort of not knowing what’s going to happen, rather than keep repeating the same old same.
I’m no longer complacent. But I’m not yet sure of where it’s all going. I’m suspended in-between.
Guess we’ll have to see what happens in 2018.
How was your 2017? Are you glad to see it go? What kind of slingshot effect are you in right now? Come share with me in the comments!
Rachel (& Kristen)
My slingshot effect right now is in my personal journey to get reconnected with myself. I’ve been doing a lot of work in a small group over the past two years but I feel like I’m ready to expand outside of the group. I’m scared of how things will go without that particular brand of close support but I also feel like I’m ready to stand on my own.
This sounds really familiar, Karisa! I think a lot of us go through phases where the people we used to connect with fall away, and it can be uncomfortable to trust that that space will get filled back up with people you resonate with on a deeper level. But it will! 🙂
First I would like to say thanks for Sharing your journey. I can honestly say that 2017 was a slingshot for me as well. The same with refusing to leave someone because I’m scared of being alone. There were times I questioned who I was and those moments still appear until this day. In 2018 I’m hoping I can fulfill this question and learn to love myself and strengthen my faith.
Good for you for leaving a situation that wasn’t serving you anymore, Victoria! I know that must have been difficult.
Those sentiments really echo in my heart. 2017 has been the most heart wrenching and challenging year of my life. I never thought things would fall apart as they have. But I agree with you that I feel this sense of expectancy. I’m not sure where I’m going or how I’m getting there, just that it’s going to happen. I definitely need 2018 to be the year of an awakening and thriving. Thank you for the post. And as always, thank you to the both of you for always sharing your authenticity.
Hi Teanca! So good to see a comment from you. 🙂 I’m glad that you have a sense of expectancy that it’s all going somewhere — that will get you through the worst of times! Keep me posted how 2018 goes for you!
Thank you for that and I will definitely keep you updated (smile).
Omg! As I was reading your blog, everything you said resonated with me! It has been an aweful 2 years for me at work being harassed. I finally quit 2 weeks ago, with no job because I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve slingshot myself and hope I go far and do land a great job. You have to close one chapter to start a new one. Year of the Dog 2018 should be a better year. Good luck to all!
Ugh, that’s awful! I’m sorry you had to quit like that, but I totally agree that sometimes the current chapter has to end before the next one can begin.
We are so on the same page! I’ve been telling everyone that we needed to hit rock bottom this year. Everyone needed to witness it instead of just imagine it. The awareness that has hit the world all at the same time is going to be a major catalyst. I FINALLY signed up for a studio that is kicking my butt and connecting me to awesome people all at the same time. I bought a bunch of domains this year but haven’t built out the sites… YET. I’ve also never been into astrology before this year, but now I’m using it to ride the wave of energy happening around me already. 2017 was a “1” year, which his masculine and aggressive. 2018 is a “2” year, which is feminine and cooperative. I think women run business are ready to step up and transform our society. Thank you for working hard to help others realize their potential and not settle for mediocrity!
Hey Stefanie! I’ve gotten a bit more into astrology this year, too! But I didn’t know about the “1” and “2” difference between 2017 and 2018. I am SO relieved to hear that 2018 is going to be more of a feminine year. Thank God (or the Goddess) for that.
So glad to see it go, but it did have its lessons. Finally, I have realized that what works for others, does NOT even usually work for me. Says endocrinologist, “Don’t try to lose more weight, try to sleep more and better. I think your weight is stuck because of your rotten sleep.” Says gastro doc, “You may have gone overboard.I think the fiber and raw foods are irritating your gut and making it bloat.” Take son on college campus tours all over US and have him fall in love with the downtown uni. I am just TIRED of TRYING to make it work(in many areas) and ready to both listen to my deep still center and to be ready to act when the catapult releases…..keep me on your list! You are really pretty mirrors that make be think and laugh.
Hey Susanne! I love what you said about connecting with your “deep still center.” I’ve gone through a similar journey in the past of learning how to listen to my own intuition over the “expertise” of others, and it always serves me well. And don’t worry, as long as you open our emails semi-regularly, you’ll stay on the list. 🙂
There’s an old man sittin’ on a porch, and a big old coon hound sittin’ on the porch next to him.
A stranger walks up and to the old man asks: “That your dog?’
Old Man: “Yep.”
Stranger: “Why’s that dog whining and moaning and scrunching around like that?”
Old Man: “Sittin’ on a nail.”
Stranger: “Well, why don’t he move and get off the nail?”
Old Man: “Don’t hurt enough yet.”
Haha! I hadn’t heard this country-fied explanation of complacency and the slingshot effect, but I love it!
2017 was another bad year for me. It was also my unhealthiest. I think my health has been somewhat resolved (physical, not mental, alas) and I’m going to hopefully slingshot into a career I actually want, not something that comes along that is merely okay because it pays and offers insurance.
This post is exaclty what I needed to see this week.
Wishing you both a Happy New Year!
Glad this found you at the right time, Gillian! I have faith that the slingshot effect will definitely propel you forward. You’ve always been very committed to bettering yourself and healing, so you’re bound to improve (even if it takes a lot of time and patience and faith). 🙂
Thanks, Rachel! This is exactly how I felt this year, too! It’s scary to move on to bigger and better things when you don’t yet know what they are. I look forward to continuing to hear your advice!
So glad you’re feeling the same way, too, Julia!
Your blog could not have come at a better time. As I sit here on Wednesday, Dec 27th, I just made a huge career jump almost one month ago, based on the quiz I took on your website Clarity on Fire. I was just thinking whether I had made a good or bad decision when I read about the slingshot effect. 2017 was an especially hard year for me. Both my dog and then father passed away. I was completely disappointed with a new job I took in February, thinking that it was going to be where I finished my career, and Trump took office. I saw Houston and Puerto Rico be devastated by Hurricanes and since I live in Chicago, seeing the constant shootings on the news makes me feel helpless. And then to top it all off, the Senate and House pass an asinine Tax Act which will ultimately allow the rich to be richer and the poor to stay poor. I am hoping that I am at my absolute low or at the launching point of the slingshot.
Although, I am feeling quite low as I write this, I had many good moments as well. I DID take the leap and make a career change joining a partnership to become my own boss which I have been wanting to do for years and have just been plain afraid/complacent. Good friends showed their compassion and love towards me as I dealt with my losses. My two daughters are thriving and my husband has allowed me to grieve and encouraged me to take the jump and start a consulting business. Additionally, although many women had to suffer, which breaks my heart, it has FINALLY come out that men in power have been abusing their power and harassing women for far too long, and we, as women, will no longer stand aside and allow it to happen.
As you question your next move and whether your efforts have been worth it, please know that you gave me the push I needed to make the leap. After reading your blog, I am going to try and make 2018 my year. I will put 100% into my new business opportunity and also find ways to use my skills and experiences to help others. Thank you Rachel. Happy Healthy New Year to you and your family.
Thank you so much for sharing, Sue! It’s SO good to hear that we’ve been a small part of your journey in the right direction this year. You hit on so many points, personal and global, that resonate with me and I’m sure many others. I’m so sorry about the loss of your dad and dog — that alone would have made 2017 a really rough year. But you did a great job of also finding the silver linings that happened in 2017, too! And congrats on starting your own business. That’s a HUGE accomplishment!
Rachel, I can soooo relate to where you are right now!!! 2017 was definitely a sling shot year for me and these last few days I am really feeling like, “Let go of the damn thing already so I can at least move forward to wherever I am going”. I won’t go into all the details, but here’s a little insight to the end result and where I am right now.
I have been in education for the past 37yrs. My baby turned 18 and will graduate in May 2018, so I planned to retire from education at the end of this school year. However, in September of this year, God decided he had a different plan my me. He relentlessly whispered to me to end my career now rather than in May. It made no sense whatsoever to me to do ask He asked. I had no idea what I wanted to do next and I was really looking forward to ending my career with my daughter. Plus, I had no new job and no other income and would be giving up 2 mths of summer pay. Who does that? But God was relentless in his instructions and I agreed to his request. Things were good at work and I love the students I had the privilege to work with, but my career in education ended Dec. 19 2017 rather than May 2018. Now what?! I was running from nothing and running to nothing, yet I am at complete peace that God is in control. But, that does not make the uncertainty of my future any less uncomfortable. These last 2wks have been charged with a whirlwind of emotions about nothing and abut everything. I feel like I want to crawl out of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally just for a moment to catch my breath. I know God has amazing plans for me in 2018 and the not knowing what they are is not quite as scaring as the uncertainty of my readiness to let go of what has not worked for me and willingness to figure out what does work without the fear that has kept me stagnant for so long. Regardless of what I think or feel, look out 2018. Ready or not, here I come!!!!
I’m SO glad that you trusted the pull to quit earlier, even though you have no “evidence” yet for why it’s the right thing to do. I have complete faith that you’ll soon find out, and I’m glad you’re open to being guided in the right direction. Let us know what happens! 🙂
I loved your blog.It totally resonated with me.I don’t want ordinary.I want EXTRAORDINARY!! I am glad to have 2017 behind me and am also grateful as it has lit a fire under me.I am ready to make powerful choices and take action.I look foward to a magnificent 2018!
Love your attitude, Helen! I’m sure 2018 will be a great year for you if that’s how you approach it! 🙂
You echoed my sentiments in a way that I could not, and normalized all much of what I have been feeling. It was also strangely comforting to know that these moments can occur even when we are pursuing those these we are most passionate about. I love the quote from Zora Neale Hurston as well as the slingshot analogy. Thank you.
I’m so glad this gave voice to feelings you’ve been having, Jolisa!
This post is PERFECT. And probably what a lot of folks need to hear right now. Because it’s not just being uncomfortable in between those spaces but even recognizing that that’s a place in and of itself. So many people just assume failure if their goal hasn’t immediately been advanced upon. Thanks so much for your honest revelations.
You’re welcome, Cindy! I love how you said, “it’s a place in and of itself.” YES.
I was in the middle of reading this and enjoying a nice hot cuppa this morning when my phone rang. . . It was my boss’s boss and the HR guy (never a good combination!). . .calling to tell me that I am fired. Yep. Canned.
The day was a frenzy of activity and appointments. Just now I sat down to plunk around on the computer and found this open tab, just waiting for me to finish reading the article.
Wow! Talk about what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it.
I sit here, between the no longer and the not yet. . .and I know 2018 is going to bring amazing adventure and more fulfilment and peace than 2017 could have ever hoped for.
Happy New Year!
Wow, Jules! I’m both REALLY sorry that that happened to you yesterday, and also really glad that we were there for you, albeit virtually, when it happened. I love the divine timing of that. You’ve already got a really good attitude about this, so I trust that 2018 will only go up from here!
Thanks for the interesting blog <3
You’re welcome, Mary! Thanks for reading. 🙂
Wow I am challenged and a bit petrified of what I am thinking of doing. I am totally complacent and felt like I have hit the pause button and it is time to press start button on life again. I am excited about 2018. I am going to look for a house my apartment is just too small, I have been putting that off for too long. And I am finally going for those swimming lessons that is long overdue. My list is long but let me start there.
Those sounds like two big steps to me, Candice! I like the idea of you moving into a bigger space, even though I obviously know nothing about your situation. But the act of moving forces you to get rid of stuff you don’t need, and then gives you more space to fill with things (tangible and intangible) that allow you to thrive and be a more authentic version of yourself. 🙂
The scary thing about today’s blog is most of what you wrote about I can completely relate to for my 2017. While I try to recognize the growth potential from lessons learned and experiences earned this year, it doesn’t seem to make it any more palatable. I’m happy to see the end of 2017, but to be perfectly honest, it scares the hell out of me to wonder what 2018 is going to bring. Hopefully it’ll be a fantastic year and not a “rock bottom” one. Much appreciation and encouragement to you for the coming year, Rachel! Thanks for being brave enough to move forward and for continuing to make a difference!
I have a feeling that it would be hard to have two rock-bottom years in a row! I could be wrong, but the slingshot felt SO intense this year that I think things are pretty much bound to improve. Keep on keepin’ on!
Thank you for this post. I am very low at the moment, Christmas and new year is always tough for me because I am unhappy being cooped up with my family and I start dwelling on all the things I want to change in my life. And do you know what? It’s always the same bloody list!
2017 was also a difficult year for me. I’ve had a tumultuous relationship that I’m still in for fear of letting go. I’ve been dumped then got back together again, I’ve been pregnant and had an abortion, I’ve had continued shit from my boss (on and off for 4 years now) and my mother had become more and more dependent on me (I live with her and am desperate to get out) I’ve been too afraid to change things because I know I’ll upset people. I’m afraid of taking risks. But I’m getting more and more bitter so I agree with you Rachel, I think 2018 is the year to just seize the day and not worry about the consequences. And hope that it’ll be happier for us all. Xx
I’m sorry this year has been such a tough one for you. It sounds like you’ve been put through the ringer. I’m sure anyone in your shoes would be feeling low at the moment.
Here’s my take about being too afraid to make changes for fear of upsetting people — Can the consequences really be much worse than what you’ve already gone through this year? Something tells me that the answer is no, dealing with that fallout can’t be worse than what you’ve already gone through (at least in the long run). Sure, there might be some initial backlash and extra difficulty when it comes to letting people down or breaking with expectations, but the long-term impact on the quality of your life will be huge!
I know it’s hard, but I also know it will be worth it in the end. Hugs!
Thanks Rachel and Kristen and your short course and virtual experience, I can happily say that the last quarter of 2017 turned out to be really great from a job perspective. I chose to leave a job that offered uber flexibility and the ability to work from home to pursue one that challenges and excites me on a daily basis. I understood what “shit sandwich” I was prepared to eat (giving up working form home) and ended up in a much better spot that I can truly say I love! Now to work on the personal side! A much scarier contemplation for me!
I’m so glad to hear about your career shift, Karee! I’m guessing now that you’ve made that transition, it will help boost your momentum for what’s to come in your personal life. 🙂 Happy New Year!
This resonates so much with me. You beautifully articulated what I have been feeling; and what so many of us have been feeling this year.
My support systems keep reflecting back to me, “You’re in a transformative time” which just feels like a sh*t cake that new layers of sprinkles and cherries and whipped cream get piled on just when I think the toppings have finally finished being added. There can’t possibly be anything that makes this worse…and then boom! It finally got so bad financially, romantically, health-wise, and emotionally that there literally is no where else to go but flung up and out! But I was definitely burnt out and sunk in deep into that cocoon asking all the questions that I am now being completely forced to reconcile in my life actions! So, 2018….Here we go!
I feel like you just described my 2012, Kara! It felt like everything that could possibly go wrong happened that year. (2017 was a lot better in comparison, but definitely was not a walk in the park!) After having been through a”complete shitstorm” kind a year, like what you just described, I can definitely say that it DOES get better. And also, in times like that it becomes super clear that your life is *supposed* to be changing, because otherwise things wouldn’t so blatantly fall apart. In a weird way, it can be comforting to realize that it’s happening for a reason, even if you hate every minute of it *while* it’s happening!
Such an amazing and timely post. I can completely relate. 2017 was an interesting with lots of changes – graduated with an MBA and started new job- but 2015 was my slingshot year that got me to where I am now. Great post Rachel!
Glad you’ve already had your slingshot year, Jodi! Congrats on starting your MBA! 🙂
First let me say, thank you so much for your blog. I started following you two a few years ago while doing research for school, and I must say I enjoy your insights. I am usually not one to comment, but after reading the comments, something inside of me prompted me to share. I can’t say I have hit rock bottom, but I can definitely relate to the experience. Ultimately that “transition,” “rock bottom,” “burn out,” or what ever it is that we all have experienced, is what catapults us into change, and if we let it, enlightenment about who we are and how we thrive. This reflective time is what allows us to move towards a thriving and authentic life.
In 2017, I made a decision to leave my job. Originally I had planned to take 2 months off, and then search for another job. Instead, I ended up having a few clients reach out to me for business consulting, and have recently decided to make this my business. I am in that “transition” space now, where it’s crunch time and I need to bring income. Even with this, I know and feel, I am exactly where I need to be, and that things are aligning and working for me. I trust God/Universe or respectfully whatever anyone calls this. I am putting in the work, and know that everything I am doing now is adding value to my growth and to my future. I say this because I can relate to the fear of stepping outside of the comfort zone. But I am noticing with every step and every day that passes, that everything that ignites us, lights us up, gives us a life thriving is on the other side of that fear. So every step (action) we take away from fear, is a step towards building a thriving life. So win or fail, I am gaining experience and walking towards that life. Here’s to a great 2018!
PS. 🙂 Please don’t delete me from your email list. I would be very sad. I love the experience you share.
I couldn’t have said any of this better, myself! Your attitude is awesome, Glasa, and your trust in the Universe (or whatever) is exactly what it takes to build a successful business (which I have no doubt you’ll do). Also, you proved a point that I’m always trying to make to people, which is that sometimes you have to be willing to let something go in order to create the space for something new to come your way. It’s amazing that when you quit your job, people came to YOU about business consulting. You were shown the next step of your path as soon as you were ready to step into the unknown. That’s what I tell people will happen! So glad you’re on this adventure, and good luck in 2018! 🙂
Personally, I think 2017 ROCKED!!! I feel it’s all in how you view things. How do we define success? What could success look like? What is/could be great about it? What you think about, you bring about. Now I’m NOT saying it’s all rainbows and happy happy like Pollyana.
Nope. Struggles exist. Challenges arise. Disappointments happen. Ok. So what, now what? Sometimes things that happen suck. But, every single day is a gift. Every day is the first day of the rest of your life. What you choose to do with it is exactly that a choice.
Sometimes, it’s about getting through the going through. During those “in the meantime” seasons, you just have to slow down, stop, take assessment of things that are most important. What’s really most important to you? What’s great in your life? Who do you love? Who loves you? What are you most grateful for? How can you make a difference in the life of someone else? Whose life did you touch today?
Always remember the power of stopping and asking questions to refocus when you are spiraling down.
2018 is already a crazy success and gonna kick some serious a%$!!!