The Upside Of Being Down (with Jen Gotch)

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On this week’s episode, Jen Gotch shares insights from her new book The Upside of Being Down.

To state the obvious, we are all learning to adjust to a new way of living.

Humans are not wired to live in long, sustained periods of isolation or social distancing, and we are having to adapt to new ways of working together, being creative, and living our lives. With all of these new dynamics, it’s importat to be open about mental health and the struggles that accompany long periods of uncertainty. Jen Gotch is the perfect person to help us think through how to navigate these difficult times. Her new book, a memoir, is called The Upside Of Being Down, and shares her personal journey in life and business while dealing with the impact of anxiety and depression.

There are three big insights that I took from the conversation that are shaping how I’m thinking about the coming weeks and months.

Progress Over Perfection

It is very important to break big ambitions into smaller, measurable wins, especially when we don’t have access to all of the resources we normally lean on. In her book The Progress Principle, Teresa Amibile wrote “Our research inside companies revealed that the best way to motivate people, day in and day out, is by facilitating progress—even small wins.” Psychologically, small wins are a huge boost to overall motivation and a sense of purpose and direction in life and work.

As Jen said in our interview, “

How will you measure progress this week? What small wins will you choose to mark success?

Unnecessary Creating Is Deep Therapy

In The Accidental Creative, I shared a practice that I call unnecessary creating. It means to engage routinely in making things that no one is paying you for, and that are not a part of your job. It can range from launching a podcast (which is how my business began!) to learning a new skill to painting to writing music. It’s a way to allow yourself the freedom to take risks, to develop skills, and to find creative expression in a very low-risk environment because the work is just for you, not for others. Right now I’m working on an unnecessary creating project in my spare time, and it’s very life-giving to have something I’m doing that’s not directly tied to my on-demand work.

What unnecessary creating will you do this week? Choose a project such as writing a short story, making a piece of art, or exprimenting with a new skill.

Release The Pressure Valve

One ray of light over the past weeks has been getting to see normally polished, produced people learning to do what they do in a more accessible and authentic way. Whether it’s Jimmy Fallon doing The Tonight Show from his home (with his kids crawling all over him!) or news anchors doing their segments from their living room, we are discovering the beauty and power of authenticity. We all need to release the pressure valve a bit, and realize that there is a new kind of more genuine expression possible because of what we’re all experiencing together.

Also, we do need to reconsider the expectations that we have of ourselves. This is no time to be in constant sprint mode, holding yourself to the same kind of accountability that you did before all of this began. Be wise in how you set your weekly expectations, and focus more on desired outcomes than quantity-based measures of productivity.

Our biggest source of stress is often found in missed expectations, especially those we have for ourselves. Is there any way in which you need to adjust your personal expectations? Release the pressure valve.

Take care of yourselves this week, friends. Be especially mindful of your mental health. Be prolific, brilliant, and healthy.

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