Sojourning to another county can be a great idea if you're writing a book or embarking upon any similar creative venture and are having a problem with distractions.
Not that you won't still wrestle with the creative process. After months of research, writing, and tossing and turning at night, I wrote my first book here in Mexico, tucked away in the old Pato Blanco hotel-turned-condos north of Mazatlán. Between chapters, I could walk the beach and summon up the creativity often lacking when sitting in front of a screen.
The book was a gesture of love for the Spanish language. I hope it will keep potential expats motivated in their studies. Speaking the native language opens up anyone living in another country to the ultimate expat experience.
As anyone who has written any kind of book knows, it’s a tremendously gratifying thing to do, whether your book's goal is to entertain, inform, or educate (or as in my case all three). I dreamed of creating a highly readable, tangible tool. Regardless of my inferior skill in marketing, I can say I accomplished that primary goal.
Champagne corks should be flying! Why didn't I feel exhilarated, ready to party?
Before I had even downloaded the book on Amazon, my spirit flagged.
For days I didn’t feel like making anything more complicated for dinner than a root beer float. I spent hours binge-reading historical fiction. The phone rang and I’d stare numbly wondering what there could possibly be to talk about?
After having several dreams in which I was arguing with a doctor in a delivery room that I was not pregnant, I realized I was suffering from Post-Book-Partum depression. There was only one cure.
Some months ago, a friend invited me to run with her to the top El Faro, the lighthouse in Mazatlán. Feeling the need to train a little before running 15 flights of stairs with someone 20 years younger than me, I decided now was the perfect time for a mini-goal until I could figure out what was next. Thankfully, the stairwells in the Pato Blanco are perfect for running.
I got tired just thinking about it. Running 16 flights of stairs in the James Center in Richmond, Virginia for a ski trip 20 years ago was indelibly grueling. I could upload the memory like it was yesterday.
I remember thinking at the time that my heart would either stop or just explode all over me ghoulishly. Now over 50, I wondered if I still had it in me.
Two marble staircases form part of the front wall of the building. At each six-pace landing between flights, large cut-outs in the wall allow you to look out toward Mazatlán’s Marina. On the right evenings, the moon seems to drag you up the stairwell with it.
Over the weeks, the stair-running sessions began to remind me of life and goals. For one thing, the sheer physicality of reaching goals that most motivational books neglect to mention.
The further I climbed that stairwell, predictably the more it hurt. By floor seven, I couldn’t think of anything besides getting to the top floor...reaching the top, reaching the top, much like the last few weeks of editing my book.
As with all goals, the feeling of accomplishment was brief.
Moments after catching my breath, I forgot the pain. With each descending flight, I was surprised how quickly my energy came back.
Once back on the ground floor, I found myself asking the same inevitable question than had haunted me since putting the book to bed, “One more?”
One more? Our whole lives are like that, asking ourselves if we are ready for one more. One more house to build, one more supersized creative project to tackle, one more great romance.
We are driven to seek out new goals and relationships that give our lives meaning knowing full-well that they will make us miserable at times in the process, and that the tremendous feeling of accomplishment will not last.
The most we can hope for is a few moments between our launches into the unknown is to celebrate the view of the height we have reached for at least a moment. We can look at finished product, or at least make love before racing toward the next goal.
Maybe you too get tired just thinking about your next goal. It's the digging deep and finding new reasons to keep climbing that keeps us going.
When you are gathering the data to determine on your next creative goal, many forces work t he background, behind the curtain of your subconscious. Let those forces play and wander. Do not constrain them with logic as your ideas make new and unlikely connections with one another.
My new project seemed to come out of the nowhere. "We should do a cookbook!” I blurted out to the food blogger I'd interviewed for a blog. Ideas don't come out of nowhere. They simmer behind the curtain (An excellent book on this is "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.) Three years of frustration regarding how to cook in a healthy way in Mexico bubbled into my conscious thought.
As any of my former boyfriends will tell you, I've never let logic get in the way of any goal. Practically every interesting thing I've ever done I can say with certainty that if I had researched the obstacles, I would have backed out before I'd started. Were they all successful? No. Did their pursuit keep me going during my darker days, during brief periods of grief or nights of fear? Yes.
Some people credit the magic they feel in beginning new projects to the universe. I credit the magical feeling to commitment, to that moment that you decide you will do this thing, however meaningless it is to anyone else but you. At some point, everyone has to abandon what they should do for what they must do.
In the words of Goethe:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
From that point of commitment, the changes in your life accelerate to accommodate it. Once you have that feeling of being on the move once again, looking up at your next goal or pursuit, rather than behind you, you never want that feeling to stop.
Harvard Health Publishing offers advice on setting goals in retirement.
The women's website "Sixty and Me" offers advice on the importance of goal-setting in retirement.
Will your goals involve developing a way to make money in Mexico? Here are some things you can do. - Ventanas Mexico.
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About the author:
Kerry Baker is a partner with Ventana Mexico, providing resources and insights to the happy expat life in Mexico. She is author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online,' a curation of links to the best free tools on the web, including many from Spain. Study from your laptop, tablet or e-reader.
She also just released "If Only I Had a Place" on renting in Mexico, luxuriously for less. The book is more than about renting. It's about an infrastructure to the most fulfilling expat life.