When you start any new business, there’s a thing called the Dip. It’s where your cash flow and income stream dips lower than what you might have become used to. It usually happens right at the beginning of your new business journey. For most people, the fear of the dip keeps them trudging off to work until they qualify for a pension.
The challenge of the dip is to process creatively when the huge “cartoon anvil” is hanging overhead, with a persistent inner critic whispering “But where’s the money coming from?” How can you be creative and productive when you are in a place of fear and lack?
Totally understandable – I mean someone has to pay the bills. And then there’s all those bits and pieces and keeping up with your brothers and the guys down at the gym. The Dip also includes a drop in status, and a drop in certainty. You are no longer a “job title” and you no longer have the scaffold of a job structure to lean on.
So, just that one thing – The Dip – keeps you from ever really considering doing something aligned with your life purpose. And, in life coaching, we call this living in shadow.
Living in shadow is where you don’t allow yourself to play 100% – and follow your life purpose and dream – (because of fear of The Dip), and instead you deliberately choose a second tier option, and funnel all your energy into it. Like the music teacher who never quite launched an album, or the obsessive trainer who never quite went pro, or the shadow author who stalks libraries.
It’s so much safer, PLUS you get to go on your boat – or the footy, or the movies – anything to distract you from that gnawing inner feeling that you aren’t doing what you could be.
It’s called living in shadow for a reason, because you haven’t had the courage to live wholeheartedly and step into the glare of the light. Living in shadow is when you buy the flippers but never actually get your feet wet.
I stopped living in shadow and started this journey towards the light a couple of years back. And yes, I am still living in the dip.
One thing that I’ve learned about the dip, is that all those people who live their lives based on fear – who are not following any passion – they come out of the woodwork and smile at you, as though you were duped by all those inspirational posts on social media. It’s as if you made the mistake of actually believing it, when they sit smugly on the sidelines and just “like and share” – no risk, no dip, no reward.
They appear one day with a big shiny SUV, or mention another cruise ship holiday, or ask your opinion on colour swatches for their kitchen remodel. Filling their days with the order processing of having stuff, as if that’s the real business of life. As if the getting of stuff – and even more time consuming – the maintenance of stuff – is the breath of life.
It isn’t. Standing proudly next to a shiny machine isn’t an achievement or milestone. In fact, it’s like falling in love with your prison. A beautiful prison that turns heads and makes noises – but a prison nonetheless.
Just yesterday, in the cool afternoon sunlight down by the beach, I sat against a rock wall and meditated for an hour. The sun warmed the surfaces around me, even though the wind was fresh from the ocean.
I felt the energy in the air and the stability of the ground beneath me. Breathed into the space, fully occupied my stillness and trembled in that space between thoughts.
People came and went – stood by me so they shadowed the sun; talked loudly about their stuff; allowed their dog to nose me; it was as though by meditating I was still there, participating.
I came away feeling complete and settled and re-connected.