In the spirit of Valentine’s Day…

A few years ago, I got a jump start on the euphemistic “career transition” (which I am now thrilled to embrace) when I left my high-profile publishing job and started my own consulting business. (I tell people that I outsourced the favorite parts of my job to myself: strategy and developing people and ideas.)

It was a scary and hard time. I was an emotional wreck. We had lost one income. Our family’s routines were turned upside down. And I faced the obvious reality that my husband wasn’t, and never could be, an actual knight in shining armor who would whisk me away from my confusion and fear.

But the thing is, during this time of upheaval and sorting out, my husband was all the things a knight should be: strong, steadfast, loving, and confident–in me. I fell in love all over again.

Things changed, and it was good. It made me understand the real meaning of renewing one’s vows. Next month we celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Well, our work isn’t the same as our romantic life, but we do fall in and out of love with it! So, here are some thoughts about love as a metaphor for our creative projects, and for falling in love with our work…all over again.

When potential clients reach out to me, they don’t tell me that they’ve fallen out of love with their “big idea,” or labor of love, or secret dream.

I hear about the great idea they have, the revealing research, the wonderful publicity they’ve received, the importance of their writing, work, lessons, or following. They email me the wonderful encouragement they’ve gotten and reiterate what a sure bet the project will be when it is taken to the next level. And what they say is all true. And I believe them!

But belief and wanting isn’t enough. They get stuck. They need: an editor to shape a manuscript; a writer to translate their work to the page; “a hook”; an agent; the right venue to take them on; the right publisher to discover them; the right business model for their idea. There’s a sense that a proverbial knight (or knight-ess) in shining armor will move the project forward.

All of us fall out of love with our work…even if we don’t admit it. That unacknowledged feeling is often a catalyst for doing something different, for getting help, for pushing forward.

When clients are able to look honestly at where they are with their project–and give themselves time and space to revisit their ideas, their audience, and the future–they come up with powerful ideas for moving forward. Dealing with the “stuck point”  leads from frustration and loss of passion to clarity, freshness, and flexibility.

Shifting perspective, getting new information, reimagining our plan, seeing our work in a new light can open the door to falling in love…again. Letting go of one direction can open the way to another.

Thought exercise:

  • How in love, or out of love, are you with your current project?
  • What help can you get to clarify what’s working and what’s not?
  • Is there a “missing piece” or problem with your project that you need to acknowledge and resolve?
  • What is most important: getting it done, or doing something you love?
  • Can you make the project smaller and more defined so you can get it done AND love it?

Through my entire career of working with authors and the launch of big projects, I can say that when the hard work of revising (and even starting over) is underway, if the direction is right, people become more passionate and in love than they were before. They renew their commitment and determination, even if the shape of the project has shifted. The heart of it stays true.