When You Feel Like You're Sitting On Zero

photo by Elisabetta Foco at

Earlier this year, I was preparing to put my purpose program into the world. A coaching friend in Mexico suggested I submit it to a large online publishing company. "Have you heard of them?" she asked. "They publish and promote personal development programs to a huge audience. You should try to get in!" I appreciated her enthusiasm but said, "I don't think a company like that would be interested in me." She asked, "Why not?" Then she said, "You should totally try!"

When we hung up, I began to look over their site. They were doing compelling things in and for the world. "Is it possible?" I wondered as my friend's encouragement lingered. I got a teensy bit brave and clicked on the application page. I scrolled through the questions.

I read each one and slumped gradually as I answered them in my head...

"Have you been featured in any external media?" No. 
"Provide URL links that support and showcase these media appearances." I can't.
"Do you have a Facebook page or a Twitter following?" No.
"How many fans and followers do you have?" None.
"Provide URL links that support and showcase your work." Don't have any.
"How many subscribers do you currently have?" Zero.

By the time I got to the bottom of the list, I noticed that the top half of my body was in fetal position hunched over my laptop. My lungs were deflated and so was my hope. I closed the window on my screen. The questions made it crystal clear I was starting from, "No, None, and Zero."

That was over six months ago.

Each day since then, I've been getting up and doing my work -- word by word, piece by piece, like by like, subscriber by subscriber. There have been a few mountain top moments and other times I descended into despair. But mostly my days and weeks and months have been rather ordinary, circling the space between the peaks and valleys, step by itty bitty step.

But lately, I've felt like I'm sitting on zero again. Some discouraging feedback... another rejection... a turtle climb to my goal... a sneaky suspicion I might never be enough. The small things that bury themselves like a weevil in my spirit.

The infestation swarmed my morning meditation earlier this week; I just couldn't get still. My mind was like a flea circus and my guts were gurgling. I couldn't focus, couldn't pray, couldn't journal.

Eventually, the sun rose and so did the household. It was time to get on with the day. I pushed through our morning maneuvers with a heavy heart. I caught a glance of myself in the mirror shortly before leaving. The frown between my eyes was deep and gravity pulled the corners of my mouth down. I looked as lousy outside as I felt inside.

"That's it." I said to myself in the mirror. "Enough of this Pitiful Pearl routine." I had three minutes to change out of the quasi-pajamas I was about to actually wear out of the house and into running shorts. I threw on a pair of socks and slid my feet into my tennis shoes untied.

My inner custodian was concerned. "But you don't really run," she said. "You used to run, but lately you walk. You stretch. You stroll. Running is too hard." I bit back, "I need to do something hard to hurl myself past zero!"

A little while later, I was parked at the lake trail. I knew if I hesitated long I'd lose my courage. I stretched enough to avoid tearing something -- and I ran. I took one step, then another, then another. Right foot, left foot, heel to toe. I ran from disappointment, from frustration, from fear. Before I knew it, I'd gone from zero to two miles around the lake.

I crossed the finish line, put my hands on my knees, and gasped for air. My heart pounded and my face stung with sweat. As I walked toward the truck, my mood was lifting, my confidence growing, and my plan unfolding.

I turned the key and said in the review mirror, "Today I'm going to do something else that will shift me forward. Right or wrong, successful or not, at the end of the day I'll know I moved."

I got home and  went straight to my laptop, allowing myself no time to back down. I opened up the application page that had overwhelmed me six months ago. As I stared at the monitor, a strong, kinder caretaker from within said, "Don't be afraid of it. Just take the questions one by one."

So I did.

And it wasn't quite as hard this time. As I clicked through, I realized that the work I'd been doing between the peaks and valleys was adding up.

I had some numbers to name, links to list, and media to mention. All of it together was enough to shed light on the progress I'd made. Without overanalyzing it, I described Purpose Dweller as clearly as I could and told them about the free trial in case they were curious. I filled in the remaining fields, said a prayer of gratitude, and sent the submission into cyberspace.

Will they consider my work... Who knows?

What I do know is that we all start at "No, None, and Zero" sometimes. Maybe you feel like that's where you are right now? I've been there -- in more ways than this one. I understand how hard it can be.

And I want to offer you some encouragement. Word by word, piece by piece, day by day, your effort matters. God knows your heart and sees you doing the hard things to build a better way. So keep it up, and don't doubt for one moment that as you go... It will. Get. Easier.

If you need to see some progress now, look back six months ago and notice how far you've come. Recognize and celebrate even the smallest successes.  You'll find that you are further along than you thought!


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