I love what I do. I get to learn something new every day, participate in a variety of forums that let me share what I know about raising great kids without power struggles with parents around the world, and enjoy feeling appreciated for my work. It's a great life, and most of the time I'm cruising, enjoying the ride enormously.
But even so, I have days -- sometimes a string of them -- when I lose my momentum. It may be that I'm tired from too much traveling, or it could be that I've had to hassle with my computer or deal with a horrible situation with a family I'm counseling. On those kind of days, I fondly recall the little cabin I saw a few years ago on the western coast of New Zealand's South Island, and I fantasize about an early retirement.
There were any number of questions I might have asked the exceptional women I spoke with at More Magazine's Reinvention Convention a few days ago, but one was near and dear to my heart. What do you do when you feel stuck or uninspired? I was eager to hear what others do when they momentarily misplace their fire and passion.
Financial journalist Jean Chatzky told me that she "just does something, even if it's not the 'right' thing." She said that being in motion is often enough to get her unstuck, a theme that was echoed by several of the other powerful women I spoke with.
Laura Munson, author of, "This is Not the Story You Think It Is," explained that when she's feeling uninspired, she asks herself, "What can I create?", allowing the answer to be something as seemingly small as weeding a single square foot of her garden. "I also write...anything. It's my practice, prayer, and meditation. My holy sacred space, and my lifeline."
Mel Robbins is a powerhouse -- a self-described "blast from the fire hydrant" when it comes to challenging her audience to take action steps no matter how unmotivated they might be. One of the tips she shared with me was what she calls the Five Second Rule. She said that if you're feeling stuck, get out of your head, which prefers autopilot versus expansion. "If you're in your head, you are behind enemy lines!" She went on to suggest picking up one thing that interests you. "If you're stuck, it's because there's no motion. Move! Explore!"
More's editor-in-chief, Lesley Jane Seymour, had this to say about the times when she's taken a big leap to get a new perspective. "If I need a huge change, I do get-out-of-my-skin travel. I will go to Africa and work with friends who help women recovering from the genocide in Rwanda. Just seeing how my small efforts can dramatically impact the lives of others really gets me unstuck and recharged and hopeful."
Malaak Rock does phenomenal work in the world, having created Angelrock Project, an online community that promotes volunteerism and sustainable change, as well as Journey for Change, a program that takes at-risk youth from Brooklyn to Johannesburg, South Africa for two weeks of volunteer service. When I asked her what she does when she feels stuck, she told me that she spends time reading, or reaches out to her women friends to avoid retreating into herself. I loved that answer -- both the universality of how women retreat when they feel overwhelmed, and the practice of reaching out to a female friend when we need to be recharged.
And then there's Willa Shalit and Danielle Butin, two angels disguised as highly successful New York-based businesswomen who have become advocates for impoverished families in developing countries. The moment we sat down to chat, I recognized them as the old friends and dear sisters we will become. (I'm considering joining them on one of their trips to Haiti!) What do they do when they're stuck? Willa "focuses on service; finding something I can do to help." Danielle chimed in with the importance of paying attention to what you love; in her case, she turns to African dance to reenergize and bring back the juice.
More's Reinvention Convention brought together the kind of women who recognize that we're all "in it" together, whatever "it" happens to be. These women are fully committed to cheering each other on, regardless of what particular cause they may be championing: world hunger, injustices to women, or simply getting through the day with difficult children.
Being a woman in today's world brings unprecedented opportunities for success, growth, innovation and creativity. But more than that, we are seeing women mutually supporting one another to create powerful change on the planet.
As for me, I'm feeling anything but stuck after my day at More's conference. I left the conference feeling energized and motivated to take my work with parents to a wider, broader, and deeper level. Thanks, More, for the inspiration. And for saving me the airfare to New Zealand.
Follow Susan Stiffelman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/susanstiffelman