When you start working on a project, whatever the nature of it, it’s like you’re trying to get a rusty engine to work. It will take time until you actually see some sort of motion going on. As cliche as this sounds, all you can do is work hard every day. More often than not, it will take quite a while until something visible occurs because there are no shortcuts to these things. This is especially true when you are starting whatever you’re starting from scratch. When you have no relevant connections in a specific field, sometimes no former education in it, when you have never done it before, starting a project is always a walk in the dark. Even if you have some sense of direction, you can’t really see where you’re heading to. It’s like you’re blindfolded but still, have to make your way to the other side of the road. It makes you nervous because your eyes are not used to the dark. Most people give up before they manage to get to the other side (or turn their engine on, if you will). It is just too much uncertainty. But here’s this: there are ways to make the crossing smoother and less scary. You could find a mentor, go to coaching, surround yourself with creative people, go co-work with people from your field, inspire yourself with the example of more experienced folks. Or you could do all of this at the same time. Usually, that’s when SHFT HAPPENS.
I like to think that the law of rocket propulsion has my back when getting a project started. After hard work, the whole thing eventually gets ejected from the engine. Once on, you might get to this flow that propels everything forward. Have you ever felt this joy coming from within as you do the work that makes you feel fulfilled and accomplished, the stuff that you do best? Have you ever felt that the more you trust the process, the more you arrive in the places you need to be? They say “likes attract likes”, and this is when you might be effortlessly led to the right places and people that resonate with you. It is tricky to explain how it feels to be truly aligned with your purpose and passion work without sounding esoteric. It’s like you’re being carried. My experience with SHFT Happens was something of that sort. A friend tagged me on their Fb event (thanks, Carole!): “Ana, this is for you. I see your name on it!”. As I read through the description I start getting seriously excited. All the ingredients I needed were there: a work-retreat, “heads-down, facilitated, distraction-free productivity” amongst a community of ‘solopreneurs’, all working in their own passion projects. We would get coaching by different professionals, a workshop on how to brew the identity of our brand, mindfulness breaks, group exercises to facilitate creativity, opportunities for connection and networking, and a power lunch + live concert. Now, as much as I tend to get enthusiastic about exciting events, I am also down to earth and never create much expectation. So it actually took me some time to feel immersed in the vibe of the SHFT retreat. I was unsure if that was my crowd, but when I joined the yoga break I started getting into the flow. Next, a fabulous veggie meal catered by Drovers Dog to the live soundtrack of Benjamin Fro (!) worked their magic on me. But what really set me flying was the workshop ‘Brew your Brand’. After listening to Dennis Beentjes from the Mindbrouwerij, I was sold. When we got to the speed-coaching session I was high on adrenaline.
Aligning the heart
“Hi, I’m Ana, nice to meet you. I don’t know why I just sat down actually”. I looked at the sign in front of him and read “Heart Coherence Coach” and continued: “I don’t even think I need coaching in this field. I feel I’m good in terms of heart-alignment so I guess we can just talk”. Sander Krol listened to me in silence and then said: “Well, I can always tell you how this works”. Before I knew I had a little thingy hanging in my ear. It measured my heart rate and I could see the waves of my own heartbeat on the screen of his computer. “This training is designed to improve well-being and augment resilience skills. People can more effectively deal with stressful situations using simple breathing / meditation techniques. When you breathe deep, in a slow fashion, your heart beats more slowly and regularly. There is a wavy rhythm to your heartbeats and this impacts your brainwaves, your immune system, your emotional state and your physical state. Did you know that the entire police in The Netherlands is following training in Heart Coherence?”. This was when I realized I knew very little about the field. I was fascinated. Besides my “heart-coherence” experience, I have talked to a “Career Coach”, an “Empowerment Coach”, a “Feelings Coach”, a “Change Coach”, an “Editorial and Digital strategist”, a “Project Sprint Facilitator”, an “Applied Mindfulness Coach”, a “Leadership & Flow Trainer”. Nothing short of brilliant. By the time we got to relax and network with some snacks and drinks, it felt like we were all on the same wavelength. Having local craft beer specially brewed for the event was the ultimate warrior’s rest.
Final thoughts: I wish I could join such a support community every other day. I was already a fan of co-working, but a day like this is just like rocket fuel that propels you forward. Inspiration, stimulus, aha moments, cooperation, human connection, SHFT is an enriching workplace that has it all. If this is just what you need, make sure enrol in the next SHFT retreat which will take place on Saturday, April, 7th, in Amsterdam. JUST. MAKE. SHIFT. HAPPEN.