In 2010, I almost quit my business.
I had a full client roster, an adorable wardrobe, a beautiful website, and a growing audience. I was primed for ever-expanding “success”.
I also had a failing marriage, worked until 2am most nights, was emotionally and energetically depleted, felt numb below the waist, and couldn’t understand why making more money was not equalling more fun or enjoyment in my life.
I was fried, and nearly always on the verge of tears from the overwhelm and confusion.
Then, one day, the ceiling caved in. Literally. Check it out:
My husband and I were sleeping, and there was an enormously loud crash in the next room — my office. I was horrified. If someone had been there in that moment, they could have died! What was I going to do with all my clients, all this dust, all the damage? It was so painfully symbolic of how I felt. Done. Fried. Crashed.
I cried for days. All the tears I’d been withholding came crashing down all at once, just like the ceiling.
I started to look – really look – at my life. This wasn’t what I wanted. Yes, I wanted to help people, but not at the expense of my own health, happiness and relationships. I wanted to do good work, but not be a workaholic. Was that too much to ask?
Before we go on, let me say this:
If your vision of a perfect life is doing nothing but sipping coconut cocktails on a faraway beach forever and ever and ever…you should probably stop reading here.
And if your vision of a perfect life is work-work-working all the time, talking about work when you’re not working, and staring at a laptop or smart phone even when you’re on that faraway beach…then this is the end of the road for you, too.
If you’re still reading, then I’m guessing that the truth – your truth – is this:
You want to be in action. You want to end your days feeling productive, like you really accomplished something, like you gave it your best and your best was amazing.
And, you want to feel at ease. You want to feel “in-flow”, spacious in your calendar and mind, and like your actions are yielding you great results.
Great. You’re my kind of woman. Let’s talk about how to do it.
EASE & ACTION. 5 STEPS:
1. Want what you want.
Perhaps you have an inkling of how you want your life to look. But how do you feel about having it? If there’s any part of you that believes that you can’t or shouldn’t want it (we all have these parts), we need to lovingly call in another part — the part of you who’s a Yes to you having it. There’s so much more that goes into feeling truly free to want what we want, but start by locating a part of you who’s a Yes to it. Doing this may create the feeling of the presence of a loving mommy within, who believes in you and is rooting for you, no matter what. Call on her whenever you feel like you can’t do it, to lovingly and firmly get you back on track (remember: sometimes “on-track” means closing the computer and going to bed.)
2. Be devoted to living it now.
Take it from someone who did a lot of waiting until there was more time and money – your life is not going to change on its own. Rework your calendar, and stick to it. Are you supposed to work until 5pm? Then focus. Are you supposed to have dinner with friends at 6pm? Then go. Devote yourself to yourself enough to follow-through.
3. Don’t check email.
Instead of “checking” your email, “process” your email. This handy frame comes from the folks at Inbox Zero, who teach that instead of spending your time looking at your emails, reading and leaving them, get in your inbox with a commitment to get them all handled to completion. Oh, and don’t open your inbox more than twice a day, unless you have a job where it’s a must. I’ve recommitted to this lately, and again, it’s changing my life.
4. Make fun plans first.
When I made my list of the top 10 things I want to accomplish this year (an annual ritual), the top of my list is a trip I’ve wanted to take for years. I see too many ambitious women holding off making plans with girlfriends, rescheduling their massages and “forgetting” to eat all day, because they’re so work-obsessed. Take a look right now at the things you’ve been putting off and get them on your calendar today.
5. Handle that thing.
Most of us have a thing – that thing – that we know we need to do but have been avoiding. Maybe it’s organizing your finances, canceling that project, finally writing that email, or getting that strange ache in your hip looked at. And the more you avoid that thing, the more it takes up precious mental and emotional bandwidth, preventing you from being truly productive and feeling truly powerful. Handle it today, love. It’s been waiting for you, and it’ll feel oh-so-good to check it off the list. You can do it.
Please borrow my faith if you need it.
In the comments below, I would absolutely love to hear where you are in your journey, and if you have it, any guidance you have for the rest of us on how to integrate action and ease even deeper into our lives.
// photo credit: In Her Image Photography (top); Nisha Moodley (bottom)