I’m about a week into my next “project,” on par with the Glimmering Butterfly Project I began in December 2017. That project ha a pretty profound impact for me, but virtually the day of it completing, my momentum, my connection to myself, my actions … all fell apart.
The Violet Dawn
But recently, this new project, the Violet Dawn, has given me new momentum, more connection to myself, and a renewed vigor for action. But this project, unlike the Glimmering Butterfly Project, is not something I plan on sharing a “lot” about or giving regular updates about.
However, the main goal of the Violet Dawn project is to (1) get myself oriented towards improvement, (2) “going insular,” a term I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk, and spending my time (thoughts + actions) “on myself,” rather than worrying about what people are thinking, (3) “living fully,” as a good friend has been pushing and encouraging me to do.
Connection Cove, a Left Page inspired project, is just a couple weeks away. I wanted to do it in January but I kept putting it off. And I also noticed this subtle consequence of putting that project off – and it’s not the first time something like this has happened.
Because this “big project” was meant to be a huge personal development type thing, in a way I was putting my personal growth behind some “milestone in the future.” So it’s no surprise that after the Glimmering Butterfly Project ended… my personal momentum died and hasn’t really come back.
That’s where the Violet Dawn comes in: just 2 weeks of “going insular,” and asking myself, “what do I hope, or expect, would happen after Connection Cove? What’s the ideal scenario, what’s the ideal person I would become, what’s the ideal things I would do as a result of Connection Cove?” And then committing to being in that frame of mind, “being that person,” today up until Connection Cove Day 1. Just 2 weeks. That’s manageable.
But it brings that momentum to me TODAY rather than putting it in the future where I don’t actually have to do anything.
The aftermath of just a few days of this project is already immensely beneficial. Hardly perfect (which is NOT the goal), although it’s helped me raise my awareness about how I’m spending my time.
Living Fully… and Dying Empty
One of the books I was reading today, that inspired this post, was Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry.
By title alone, it might not sound like the most optimistic of books. The ideology behind the book is that you don’t want to go to your grave with your best still inside of you: live your life fully so that you can die empty, having given everything you’re meant to give to the world.
I read it years ago and I flipped through the book for the first time since and stopped when something felt relevant or resonated well.
The chapter I landed on was “Defining Your Battles,” essentially deciding what in your life you want to take a stand for. The end of the chapter hit home for me, and perfectly encapsulates why I turn into a wet noodle when I’m not pushing myself towards something meaningful.
“The key takeaway is this: To avoid aimlessness, you have to stand for something. Don’t allow aimlessness to rob you of years of your life. You will ultimately be remembered for – and your body of work will be built upon – the battles you choose to spend your time fighting. Act with urgency and diligence today to define your through line and your battles, then carefully allocate your focus, time and energy on things that matter to you. There are battles that only you are equipped to fight, and while I can’t tell you what they are, I suspect you probably already know at least some of them. We need you to act, and we need you to do it now. Run to the battle.”
I got chills when I read that. The whole book is packed with little nuggets and actionable things like that. But reading it again, from this new awareness that I have years later … this time it felt more relevant, straight to the heart. (And it also makes me ponder re-reading a lot of my older mindset books to see what’s more relevant now that might not have been years ago.)
That end-of-chapter takeaway is essentially where I’m at in my life.
If I don’t have something to work for, I melt. I get weak. I get depressed. My days slip by. I can’t remember hours of my day. It’s all just a fucking blur.
That’s nobody’s fault but my own. And I don’t say any of that to be hard on myself. I say that because that’s the truth of what happens for me. Right now, with where I’m at – if I’m not oriented towards something that’s meaningful for me, and I’m not actively putting in the time and energy to build, or create, or make an impact … I will deteriorate.
But when I am?
Hours of my day are still a blur, but now it’s for a good reason: because I’m immersed in what I’m doing, I’m pushing myself towards a future or vision that’s exciting, uplifting, and beneficial for myself (and even better if it’s for others too).
What Do I Stand For?
This is the question that has haunted me for years. What is my mission? Why am I doing what I’m doing? It’s the reason I’ve often felt so fragmented, pulled in so many different directions, and it all leads me to the same place: running in circles or taking zero steps at all.
None of it is effective.
Rather than feeling like I have to make a big life decision right now, it’s more important for me to ask myself:
What do I stand for … today?
It can, and most likely will, change over time. As I try new things, as I discover different things I like and don’t like, as I see the impact I can or can’t make, as people react – and so on – I will have more experiences from which I can draw from.
A mistake I can make, which I intend to avoid, is thinking that that time spent trying things … would be “wasted time.” No, that time is not wasted. That time is learning, that time is experiencing, that time is … living.
What I may eventually “stand for” in my life in the long term, in the most ambitious sense, I may not discover until I do those things. Until I do those things that call to me today, this moment. Until I take a stand for what I feel called to take a stand for.
So today … I’m taking a stand for…
- Becoming a life-long practitioner of West Coast Swing.
- Immersing myself in the world of community development, teaching, business development, marketing, and so-on.
- Becoming more insular and focusing on why I’m here, my contribution, and my truth.
- Learning who I am, improving who I want to be, accepting who I am, and learning to live who I am in the fullest way possible.
- Working on implementation over contemplation. Action over ideas.
- Pushing myself out of my comfort zone in order to broaden my horizon on what I feel and know I’m capable of.
- Living fully, living courageously.
In a tangible format… Today, taking a stand for these things means…
- Spending time more consciously on tasks that “move the needle forward” on projects and ambitions: putting in the hours to build the Fort Wayne Westies, to learn marketable skills, and so on.
- Becoming more present, self-connected, and self-disciplined through meditation and other morning rituals.
- Working on personal development. Reading, journaling, new experiences, meditation, …
- Working on professional development. Courses, programs, training, education, …
- Working on dance development. 1:1 instruction, workshops, research, practice, …
What does it mean?
At the end of the day, the Violet Dawn is my personal mission to live fully – just for 2 weeks. Of course, what happens after those 2 weeks is just as important as what I do each “moment of now” during these 2 weeks. But I will cross that bridge when I get there.
That takeaway from Die Empty is a great affirmation on WHY I need projects like the Violet Dawn, the Glimmering Butterfly Project, and Venture 15. Despite what people (or my ego) might say (“you shouldn’t ‘need a project’ to do what you want/need to do”), the reality is:
It helps. And right now, it works.
It’s not the most exciting to others, and that’s okay. It may or may not create radical improvements in my life, and that’s okay.
What matters for me, today, is that orienting myself towards that “ideal” does, indeed, actually make me more intentional with my time. More aware. Creates more conviction for my moments in my day. Compels me to look at and visualize the future I want to live in, the person I want to be, the impact I want to make. Creates tangible momentum.
And that, to me, sounds a lot closer to “living fully and dying empty” than what I have been doing most of this year in 90% of my non-dance down-time: fuck all.
So I’ll continue to orient myself towards a “project,” a “direction,” a “mission,” “north stars,” for as long as it’s beneficial. The moment I should fear is the moment I don’t have a project that I am fully committed to. Although ultimately, the moment to be feared is the moments I am not living fully, not giving my best, not creating, not working, not improving, not acting.
… Right now, that’s all bundled in yet another project. I’m still figuring out what exactly I’m “taking a stand for,” but for now it’s pursuing what the heart is calling me to pursue.
And this project is, for the most part, my eyes only – a mission of insularity.
My words shouldn’t be valued as much as my actions. I need to act, not talk. I need to leap, not seek consultation. All of the advice I think is so great that I want others to discover, I need to implement for myself first. And right now: that’s getting quiet(er), staying in my lane, listening to my heart, having confidence in my mission, and putting my head down to work.
The Violet Dawn
Have you taken a stand in your own life?