There have been two turning points in my life, both instigated in the middle of the night, when I was clearly not rational, and both created cascades of amazing change. Let’s talk about why our best ideas come in those irrational moments in the middle of the night and how we can use those moments for lasting change in our lives.
Two hot cups of coffee in a dark room
I was a graduate student in the Ph.D. program for Sociology. The program was uber prestigious, I was fully funded, and I was lucky to be there. I was also miserable. I’d lost all passion for my own writing and research and felt trapped.
I was in the graduate student offices late one night, probably banging my head against a wall, trying to figure out some obscure Marx quote, when one of my colleagues came in. She looked pretty miserable, too.
I put on a fresh pot of coffee, and we sat down at a table to talk. She was working on a paper and had completely lost her motivation. I started asking her questions:
Why is this research important to you?
What do you think you could change in the field, if you publish this?
What about the writing process is most difficult for you?
What if we brainstorm some ways to keep you motivated while writing?
How about if I read your progress every week and give you feedback?
Over two hot cups of coffee in that dark room, my life as a writing coach began. I didn’t know it then, but as our conversation flowed on, God was revealing my calling to me.
Within a few months, I dropped out of that program and went on to be an entrepreneur. Let me tell you, being a full-time writing coach and editor is amazing, and I’m grateful every day that this is my life.
A 4am feeding with a newborn
I’d in business for seven years, had three children, and I’d been wanting to write a book for over a year. When my third child was 4 months old, we were up for a 4am feeding.
I was looking at my little one and thinking, “When am I ever going to have time to write that book?” And I swear, she smiled, and it was almost as if to say, “Haha, Mama, your life is never going to get less busy!”
The truth of the thought hit me hard, and I had a choice to either laugh or cry. Life wouldn’t get any less busy for a very long time, maybe ever. So, I laughed. Was I going to write a book, or was I going to write a book?
We finished our feeding, I laid her on the couch next to me (joy of babies who can’t roll over, yet), pulled out my laptop, and start writing my book.
I had been helping others write for years, but writing my own book gave my such intense clarity and focus, honestly, I wish I’d written it years earlier. Ah, well, we do the best we can every day.
What’s so special about those moments in the middle of the night?
I think we’re especially open and receptive to our intuition in the middle of the night. We’re less rational, less judgmental, less realistic. Things that, during the daylight hours, seem out of reach, in those nighttime moments, seem just crazy enough to work.
I would like to suggest that we all learn to embrace a little more of that irrational, intuitive side. The next time you’re up in the middle of the night and an idea hits you, write it out. Grab hold of that enthusiasm and keep writing until you’ve got it all down on paper. When the morning comes in, with its schedules and busy-ness, the only chance you have of holding on to that just-so-crazy-it-might-work is if it’s down on paper.
In fact, when you’re in that middle-of-the-night inspired moment, go ahead and pull out your calendar. Find the time to make your crazy idea work. Put it in your schedule before your rational mind has time to say, “I’m too busy.”
You’re not too busy for a business idea or a book or a blog that could change your life. You just need to trust your intuition and get your crazy idea in your schedule before rationality sinks in.