This is Part 4 of a four part series on the Genesis of Roosted – what Roosted is about, followed by a little about me (the author), who Roosted is for and now, most revealingly, its initial origin story.
Sorry, why does a blog need an Origin story?
So you may have read the rest of this series and be forgiven for understanding the origin of Roosted to be me buying a flat and thus choosing ‘settling’, as described in detail here.
And while that remains true, there is another driving force which has enabled me to get my arse into gear and actually start writing.
The process of choosing a name, buying a domain and hosting service (WordPress, btw) and getting content out is the result of a series of small choices made recently.
This process has a fair bit of significance to me and I’m sharing this not because I see uploading a few pages of content onto the internet as some huge achievement in itself – but because of the lessons that got me here.
It’s my hope that in sharing these lessons I may provide some inspiration for you the reader, in areas of your own life in which you may be holding back.
You see, I’m a self-motivated person. I like to do new things and I can act pretty quickly to move the needle on a project once I put my mind to it. Starting things has never been an issue for me.
I am, however, quick to give up. Quick to find out that something is harder than I first realised, or requires more discipline than I can muster. Frequently, I am quick to believe that no one really cares enough about the end result of a project, to bother finding out what that end might actually be.
This time around, however, excuses that previous projects have fallen prey to, to suddenly seem less tolerable to me.
These realisations are described in the following sections below: The Resistance, Self-Identity and The Subconscious.
i) The Resistance
Acquainting oneself with The Resistance
So back to the topic of excuses. As you know, excuses can paralyse us pursuing our creative endeavours.
There’s a phenomenon that many before me will attest to, famously denoted by Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art as ‘The Resistance’.
Pressfield describes at length the destructive and invisible force The Resistance has; causing friction in our lives when it comes to new initiatives.
It is what often holds us back during any creative or risky undertaking. It is the force that tells us we aren’t good enough, or we are too busy, or we not ready to do the work.
‘The work’ by the way, despite the word Art in the title, could really be anything. Anything from starting a business, writing poetry, designing furniture, speaking to a stranger… the work is anything which we feel compelled to, but can easily find reasons not to.
Writer’s block is such well-trodden subject because the process of writing requires a solitarty commitment to the quill/pen & paper/MacBook pro [insert future writing device] for whoever has made writing their priority.
When we’re alone The Resistance is greatest.
Writer’s block-esque Resistance will reveal itself through lack of inspiration, a sense of restlessness, procrastination or any form of ‘not doing the work’ that takes the writers fancy in a given moment.
Pressfield describes feelings that anyone who has ever ventured out on a new project will experience. Feeling which for many, have proved so debilitating that they never finish their work.
The Resistance is the reason for the new venture that never got a chance to unfold — because the person driving it found it too crippling to continue.
It’s responsible for thousands of unfinished novels, screen-plays, half baked business plans and hobbyist Instagram accounts that got lost in the internet abyss.
Pressfield argues that it’s only the professionals who are ever able to gain enough momentum to overcome the force and do their work until the point that it gets put out into the world. Amateurs, on the other hand, will find excuses or distractions or new projects to take them off course.
Professionalism v. amateurism is not a matter of skill or years in service: its a mindset and a commitment to finishing.
Upon realising that time and time again I have unfinished projects left and too many conversations with friends about the “thing I’m thinking about doing” that never went anywhere, that I realised The Resistance had got the better of me.
The Resistance had began to rear its ugly face in my life as a form of subtle, slow, yet painful regret.
Regret had caused an underlying niggling feeling in the last few months – particularly upon waking. It had been causing sluggishness, negativity, and apathy in my life towards myself, and more dangerously, towards others.
Realising something had to change
So when the month of April rolled around, regret revealed itself to me more plainly. Because despite all of the cool things I’d done this side of 2019 (including putting down a deposit on my first flat) none of them seemed significant because I hadn’t done any of the work.
So it sounds obvious — if I could muster the energy and organisation to buy a home — why not just buy a domain and start writing?
Because the Resistance targets us where we are weakest. It targets us where we feel vulnerable and have the most to lose. Writing about the topics I choose to write about is scary because they expose parts of my inner self in ways previously only known to those closest to me, or written in my diary.
The intangible nature of words and ideas
Many know what it is that they want to do in life and their creative projects often involve building something physical.
Maybe it’s setting up a yoga studio, an architecture practice, or a cafe.
I get envious of these types of people because for them, their work sits outside of them. It’s easy to see in a visual form and to understand as ‘done’ and see progress when a days work is over.
I’m envious because I’m now realising that for me, the work is about words and ideas. It always has been. But words and ideas are intangible and messy and hard to explain; thus leading to confusion and obstruction in doing the work.
It’s hard to justify the time and energy to create words and no one is really asking for more amateurs online regurgitating their thoughts for all to see.
My work is barely distinct from me and so its innately personal nature scares me.
I fear that my work is embarrassing, weird and self-indulgent. I fear that it opens itself up to criticism: the risk of bad grammar, poor articulation, or controversy.
Who wants to be that person no one agrees with, or worse, is utterly and completed disregarded and sinks into obscurity.
It’s these fears that have held me back from doing the work.
It’s these fears that I can now look in the eye and acknowledge — hello, Resistance.
I realise that as I do the work, that it is physical. Until these words and ideas are out of my mind and on to a page, it is not complete. My arm physically aches from banging on a keyboard and my head now heavy from crouching over a table in a dimly-lit pub.
Behind Roosted’s origins lies another realisation I’ve had lately, that I’d bet many an ambitious person before me would lay claim to having experienced as well. I’ll explain..
I love my job
What’s great about my life, and I say this not to brag but because it adds important colour to the context, is my job.
I work in a faced-paced company with people I love, working with some of the biggest brands in the industry.
What’s not to love right?
As I said, I love my job. Right now, as I write I am even wearing a branded hoody in a pub and will inevitably check my work email on my route home around 9pm.
But loving my job has recently caused me some pain.
Last year, 2018, saw the biggest professional learning curve for me as I was tasked with building an incubator creating 10 new companies from scratch, with 20 entrepreneurs.
I was tasked with designing something that had not previously existed almost single-handedly, that involved speaking to literally hundreds of people about it.
I had to basically become this programme and everything it stood for, in order to put this message into the world and get people to buy into it. And they did — I exceeded my own expectations and targets and after interviewing hundreds of people, in January 2019 it all culminated with a successful outcome.
This was all great. Like truly great, on paper really great. Many late nights, weekends and canceled plans had all proved worth it.
The emotional disconnect
However, I couldn’t help but notice a slight disconnect to this fact once it was all over and done. There was an anti-climax to the hard work, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
I only put my finger on why, circa three months later, during coffee with a close friend this March. After chatting things through with him I was able to see that I had self-identified with this project so much that I had become my work. So much so that for months my entire value was tied into this project proving successful.
Then, when it all eventually played out, my hard work became everyone else’s work too (my colleagues and a cohort of 19 entrepreneurs).
This caused a somewhat divorcing of myself and my ego from the project as it was no longer ‘mine’ and the result left me without a bedrock of identity.
In a literal sense I didn’t have much work to do.
The project was over and there was odd bits and bobs to tie up, but I was predominantly left without a role. But metaphorically speaking, I was stripped of a clear why and purpose; all of the things that had sustained my why for such a long time were over.
It was like I had completed the level of a video game and was met with a blank screen and no one to challenge me next.
An unhealthy balance
It’s only months later that I can now see how my self-identification with the work to that extent was unhealthy.
Unhealthy because I was now realising I didn’t know what else I cared about, thought about, dreamt about now this project was out of my hands.
It was not okay that I felt frustrated at my bosses for not being able to offer me a new role that gave me the same sense of fulfilment directly afterwards.
It was not okay that my self-identify had eroded with the slow releasing control of this programme.
This realisation, as my dear friend helped to point out one Saturday morning, got me to see that for as long as I expected my job to give me that extreme level of fulfilment, that I would always feel disappointed. The gap between my expectations of what work could provide me with and the reality, would always be too large.
I am my own person, not an extension of my company
No matter how great the work, the team or my stake in it, ultimately I am not my company. I am my own person and I needed to find the space and time to figure out what my identity was without it.
This is not the same as quitting or starting again, but simply about lowering my expectations of what creative fulfilment might be found through my day job, as well as figuring out what else I care about in the world to ignite my passion and spark.
Time to look in the mirror
I had lost my spark, my energy, my drive. I was feeling and looking sluggish and it was time to stop pointing the finger at my company, and look at myself a little closer.
Roosted is the result of a lot of introspection and amalgamation of the things that I care about. If you’re not familiar with the topics on the blog, in short, it’s around self-improvement through the process of designing a life to love.
Roosted will not be about the work I do in my day job, because my day job needs to remain separate to my identity at least for now. There are however, symbiotic topics as my work challenges me to understand people and performance at a deep level. More about this soon!
If you’re still reading up to this point I’ll leave you with the final origin of Roosted.
iii) The Subconscious
I must be dreaming
Another book which has shaped my thinking in recent months is Karl Jung’s Dreams, Memories and Reflections. Amongst Jung’s numerous breakthroughs and advances in our understanding of the mind as we have today, was his psychological explanations behind dreams.
The other night I prayed to God (yes I believe) that if Roosted was something that I should be doing that I would get an affirmative dream. By the way, I don’t necessarily have experiences like this often, nor do I believe we should test God or treat prayer like a wish list, but hey, I was looking for excuses thanks to the Resistance.
That next morning upon waking I had the most crystal clear play-back of the dream followed by the interpretation. Side note: I usually remember dreams around 20 min upon waking, where interpretations get pieced together slowly. This time around it was like it was being narrated to me as clear as day. So much so that as soon as I opened my eyes I grabbed my diary and wrote the dream and its interpretation down.
“Was on some trip involving work colleagues + random person’s mum. All going to spend money/boozey breakfast out but I make excuses to leave. Harder to find my way out than I thought. Eventually find an Overground station and have to run really fast to make the last train which says there are no stops on the way, its a really fast train but it goes directly to my house. There are no snacks or any comfort points. It has many criminals on board and feels scary and risky to get on. But I decide to get on anyway and eventually find a bed and settle peacefully.
Feel this is saying I just need to commit and not worry about what everyone else is doing. Stop delaying with Roosted and get on with it – do the home-run and embrace the fears of getting it wrong”
I had actually forgotten about this until later the next day when I reopened the diary; usually still in a dreamlike state upon waking I’ll find I have zero recollection of what I’ve written.
If you want to delve into your subconscious I highly recommend you do the same. You’ll read some pretty weird and wacky stuff. I never did find out which colleagues’ mum had joined us for boozey brunch…
Heres a photo of my surroundings about mid-way through writing this when I looked at the world going on around me, couples, friends, colleagues all drinking on the first summery day we’ve had in a while. I would usually let the Resistance have talked me out of sitting here and find someone to drink with and feel cool and normal, but I persisted.
Those feelings of sluggishness, regret, restlessness and apathy by the way? Since I launched Roosted have all gone.
I don’t know what this will be yet, but the point is that I keep going until I find out.
Lots of love,
Editor @ Roosted.co