I have been thinking a lot about freedom recently. As you know, I spend my time designing training, material, and educational content to help people like you figure out what kind of work you can do in the world on your own terms. For most people that means running their own independent business from the Internet.
And the more people I talk to, the more I hear that it's all about freedom: freedom to run your life on your terms, and do whatever it is that you want to do. Whether you want to be a more present parent, choose exactly when and where you're working, do some traveling, or you don't want anybody to tell you how much money you're allowed to make.
I have been thinking lately that this is really my purpose: to empower you to make the choices that would give you more freedom in your life, whatever it looks like to you. And in this episode on the podcast, I want to share some ideas around the freedom to take things slowly and at your own pace, instead of pushing to get more and more done.
Before we head to the meat of it all, though, this episode is brought to you by Fizzle.co. Fizzle is a training platform that's absolutely awesome for people who are just getting started in business and need to have the community and resources to figure out how to navigate this whole thing. You can check it out and get a free trial by going to Fizzle.co/courage.
Now, here's what we're going to be talking about on the show. You can skip around the timestamps for the topics that most interest you:
You don't need motivation all the time [03:57]
"How am I going to make myself do stuff today?" [09:57]
Reframing into a better question to ask yourself [13:05]
Slowing down will NOT break your business [18:50]
How to get over feeling "behind" [22:36]
This topic about not needing more motivation was inspired by an email that I wrote upon waking up one morning. The email was called, "You don't need Monday Motivation."
(Side note: if you like getting raw, unplanned, stream of consciousness-type emails, then get on my email list!)
You know what I'm talking about: sometimes you log into Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, and you get bombarded with all these "motivational messages." The whole "let's get after it, let's crush it, grind it out." And sometimes, it's exactly what you need to hear.
But other times, it's the exact opposite. There are times when the last thing that you need is to feel that sort of punch in the gut of someone telling you that all you need to do is work harder, wake up earlier, and want more.
"How am I going to make myself do stuff today?"
As of this recording, I'm 29 weeks pregnant, and I'm starting to feel this pregnancy in a big way. This morning, when I woke up, my very first thought was: "Oh, my God, HOW is it morning? I can't do life today." If you're a parent, pregnant, or both, you know what I'm talking about, and I bet there are many other circumstances where you might feel this way (listen to the episode I recorded with Esmé Wang about limitations and living with chronic illness).
So on this particular morning, I just knew that I was going to be tired. I had this crushing realization that today was not going to be any different from the past four days I spent in a hormonal fog, and doing normal, everyday things (like my work, taking care of my daughter, or even getting dressed or going up stairs) was going to feel immense for me. Not the most motivating way to wake up on a Monday morning, I assure you!
As I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought:
"How am I going to make myself do stuff today?"
I have a to do list, 10 weeks until I have a baby, and lots to do. Maybe you've asked yourself this question at some point, too.
I didn't like how this question felt in my body. It felt full of resistance, and there definitely wasn't anything appealing, or motivating, or exciting, or inspiring about making myself do stuff on a Monday morning.
Reframing my question
I decided to get quiet and stop the mind chatter. I've been finding more and more that my inner guidance and voice knows what's up, but she's not very loud or outgoing. She needs to be invited to the conversation. So when I got quiet, I waited for another question to replace my first one.
The next question that came up was:
"How can this morning feel good?"
As soon as I asked this question instead, my whole energy changed. I didn't wake up any more, and I wasn't any less tired, but asking this question was like putting a different lens on the filter through which I look at the world.
"Life has gotten far more interesting since I decided to intentionally unwind and unravel my impulse to try to get everything done by sheer force of will."
Before, I was asking myself: How am I going to rise to the occasion? How am I going to make myself come through on the plan? Heavy thoughts.
And when the lens changed, I started picturing my morning through the filter of feeling supported and comforted. I had some clarity on what I could do. I saw myself pushing my boot camp class a few hours back, bringing my lap desk into bed with me, watching some training videos to learn about Facebook ads, and sipping on my coffee.
It was so powerful that I suddenly felt empowered instead of rigid and resistant. Yes, I was still tired. Yes, I didn't have my normal energy. But I felt like I can still do something. And how much better is that, rather than spending the rest of my day trying to beat myself into submission?
Truth be told, life has gotten far more interesting, since I decided to intentionally inwind and unravel my impulse to try to get everything done by sheer force of will. I suspect that you often try to beat yourself into submission, tell yourself to suck it up, and it becomes a habit. The reason for that is that, in the short term, these tactics are effective and you can make yourself get stuff done that way. But in the long run that's the road to burnout, and your best work probably doesn't come from that place. So slow down and actually listen to yourself, and allow a new path if you need it.
Slowing down will NOT break your business
As you know, I'm a big planner. So on Sunday night I get in bed with my iPad and plan out my whole week.
(Want to learn my revolutionary 15 minute planning method? Grab that right here!)
After I created the plan, I felt good about it. And then I woke up the next morning and instantly knew that the only way that plan was going to get worked is if I forced myself -- like, really, really, REALLY forced myself.
It was very tempting for me to do that, but what I've learned over and over again is that life is a lot more fun when I actually allow myself to listen to where I'm at. And today looked a lot like throwing out that plan I made for this morning. So I went with what would make the morning feel good, and guess what? I'm still paying the bills, I still have a profitable growing business, I still get to do what I love -- empowering other people to not settle and find their freedom.
And even though I'm not forcing myself to go at the hardcore pace every day, especially throughout this pregnancy, I've really tried to honor days like today. And much to my shock, business is still working. I think there was a deep part of me that believed that if I allowed myself to rest that I wouldn't be successful anymore.
It's really easy to think that if you don't do all this today, it's going to pile up. Then you're going to be behind tomorrow. And if you fall behind, you're not going to be able to make money. And if you can't make money, you lose your freedom. We all know about this spiral, right?
But I want you to hear me on this (and I want myself to hear me on this, too):
You need to trust yourself, and that going at your own pace is not going to break you, your progress, or your dreams.
So sometimes you don't need motivation. You need to trust yourself and go at your own pace -- and most importantly to remember and embrace as best you can that honoring your pace doesn't make you lazy, and it's not going to run anything that you're working on.
How to get over feeling "behind"
I honestly can't tell you how often I hear my students in Crickets to Customers say, "I feel behind."
"There's no such thing as being "behind". If you feel behind, then what you're really saying is that there's a lot of work ahead of you to be done. Congratulations! You have something to build towards."
Even my students who are going through some hard personal times will message me about how bad they feel about being behind in the program.
Here's the way I see it:
There's no such thing as being behind. In fact, if you're behind, what you are actually saying is that there's a lot of work ahead of you to be done, right? And if there's a lot of work for you to do -- congratulations! You have something to build towards. If you were just like, "Yeah, it's all done. Where do I go from here?" I would be really worried about you. If you have everything done, then there's nowhere for you to go. There's no growth for your business, your heart, or your mind. If you accomplish it all, then you're done. And I don't know about you guys, but I like the feeling of being far from done on this planet. So there's no such thing as behind.
Maybe what you're actually trying to say is, "I'm not going as fast as I would like." And that almost points out the absurdity in our expectations of ourselves. Where's the fire? Why do you have to go at breakneck speed all the time? Is that realistic to ask that of yourself? Maybe not going as fast as you'd like doesn't mean that you aren't making progress.
How to deal with those hard days
Back to my day today, even though I've slowed down and did things that made me feel supported and nurtured instead of what was planned, I know for a fact that I'm going to feel really good about this day at the end of it. I'm still doing meaningful things, and coming through on my commitments for the most part. It's just going to look a little different than I planned originally.
On those hard days, it really pays off to surrender to the reality, stop fighting so hard against it, and ask: How can we take a tiny step forward in a way that feels good today?
Because that is still progress. And progress always counts. Sometimes you are the hare, and other times you are the tortoise. It's easy to discredit the tortoise's journey when she's in the middle of it, but we all know how that story ends. So whether you are having a tortoise day or a hare day, I'm with you and I'm cheering you on (with all the energy that I can possibly muster at 29 weeks pregnant)!
Links and resources:
Fizzle.co training platform for new business owners - Free Trial
Episode with Esmé Wang - Living with chronic conditions
15 minute planner - Learn the method here!
Courage & Clarity FB group - Join the community!
Instagram - Follow along!