Stop Hustling: Pacing Yourself is Part of the Plan

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Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

“You’re trying to do it all,” my coach said — gently accusing me of taking on more than I could handle without burning out.

I had just gotten back from a business trip to test a workshop concept and told my coach I’d have it turned into an online course by the end of the month.

And when I told her the rest of the things on my list to accomplish, including book proposals, keeping up on my social media schedule, taking individual coaching clients, and starting an email list, she said, “You’re trying to do it all.”

“No,” I assured her. “I’m not trying to do it all. It all works together. Everything I do supports my brand as an author, and it’s all related. It’s all one thing!”

Okay, she caught me. I was trying to do it all.

I had spent a solid two months developing the workshop into its current state by working on it — and only it — for weeks, while my ideas for other projects got put into a list for later.

My focus got me this far, and I didn’t want to lose momentum.

Since I wanted to start 2020 off organized and with a solid calendar of social media and blog content, it stood to reason that I could not turn my workshop into a six week course at the same time I was writing a book proposal, learning how to make an email list, and regularly posting on my social accounts.

I needed to give the course a little room to breathe while I created the channels I will use to give it life when it’s ready.

Curiously, I wondered what had been making me think I needed to launch myself into the next huge step instead of making a plan that made sense.

Why was I still hustling?

The answer came to me as I was in the middle of a conversation with someone about something my mother did to me as a kid.

After my sixteenth birthday, I decided I wanted to learn to play guitar. A friend’s mom had an old acoustic one sitting around in a garage and she gave it to me.

I named my guitar Lorelai, and she stayed in my room looking very cool. Sometimes I’d take her out of her black case with its shiny silver buckles and I would strum and try to play a chord or two.

But I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have a plan.

One day, I received a phone call from my sister.

“Mom’s having a yard sale and she’s selling your guitar.”

I exploded over the phone in livid, shrieking tones at my mother that she had no right to sell my guitar!

She replied coolly and calmly, “Well, you haven’t learned to play it. If you tell me when you’re going to learn to play it you can keep it.”

I felt trapped. I didn’t have a plan.

I could not give her an answer I knew would be true and wouldn’t get my guitar scrapped upon the deadline if I hadn’t kept up my end of the bargain.

She offered an alternative: I could keep it, but she wanted to nail it to her living room wall as decor.

I let her sell my guitar.

The false promise of hustle and perfection

That need to figure out a new hobby right away, to be the best at something immediately, to only bring something into my life if I have a plan for it is directly related to the way my mother treated my hobbies.

I had to earn the right to have an idea by hustling to put it into motion.

But now that I know where this belief comes from, I can take away the power it holds over me.

My approach to undoing mental obstacles is similar to trauma therapy. Find the root of the negative thought (in this case, mom sold my guitar because I didn’t learn it right away = I must constantly be working toward a goal as fast as I can), and then process it.

What would the ideal situation have been with my guitar?

  • I would have been allowed to keep it as long as I needed until I either decided to make a plan to learn or I decided to let it go. That decision should never have been forced.
  • If I had decided to stop learning guitar, that decision should have been accepted and not attached to shame for not trying hard enough, or assumed that I never wanted it in the first place. People can change their minds.
  • I would have had opportunities to learn from people who could teach me in a way that made sense. I was limiting myself to self-teaching, when I could have asked for lessons or help. I didn’t have to learn something new in a vacuum.
  • My mom would have supported that I was interested in a new creative hobby and encouraged me to learn at my own pace. I should not have had to justify my desire or my timeline.

Chasing immediate perfection is never the answer, because we all deserve the time it takes to evaluate if a new idea fits into our life and our plan for growth.

I can’t imagine telling anyone, especially a child, “You have to learn this immediately or I’m getting rid of it.”

The pressure of that edict was enormous, unfair, and harmful.

It has kept me in a pattern of thinking I needed to always be jumping to the next thing in my life in order to achieve goals at breakneck speed and learn new skills as quickly as possible. I need to execute things perfectly, and quickly, in order to not lose the thing I’m working on.

I have to succeed before it’s taken away and I lose the chance forever.

Replacing the negative pattern

It’s not enough to simply find and understand the root cause of a negative belief.
You have to pull an Indiana Jones and swap that thought for a positive one that you can believe is just as real.
Here are some thoughts I can try out to see if they feel just as real and believable as the thought that I need to go fast or I’ll lose my chance.
  • I have plenty of time to get this new skill right.
  • It’s okay to take my time on this project.
  • This project is part of my plan and I don’t need to rush it.
  • I am in charge of how long it takes to learn something new, and I can take as long as I need.

Those beliefs feel so much more loving and supportive.

It might take a little time and practice, and I will need to repeat these new beliefs a lot while I swap them out for the old one.

But that’s okay.

I can take as long as I need to learn something new.

PS. I’m teaching people how to stand up for their boundaries after traumatic pasts in my six week course that starts Monday. Email me to reserve a spot at 50% off list price.

Today is Day One

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If you could not fail

What would you do if you had the time, money, and energy to do it? If you knew you could not fail?

  • Learn a new skill?
  • Spend more time with your kids?
  • Take a family vacation?
  • Take a vacation by yourself or with your spouse?
  • Write a book?
  • Lose 50 pounds?
  • Cut your hair really crazy?
  • Plant a garden?
  • Start a business?
  • Find the love of your life?
  • Have a baby (see above)?
  • Follow a dream?

What the hell is stopping you? Probably some of this:

  • Work
  • Debt
  • Finances
  • Lack of support from family & friends
  • Being too busy
  • Being tired or stressed out
  • Not believing in yourself
  • The timing is wrong
  • Not knowing how

I am here to tell you that none of that matters. I have learned new skills, lost 30 pounds, started writing a book, and started a business in the past year, despite having bills to pay, little to no energy some days, working unpredictable long hours at a job, and the little voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough.

Anything that is important to you means you make the time for it in your life. Anything that isn’t a true priority means you will find an excuse to explain why you can’t do it. All those promises of “some day” and “tomorrow” are empty promises (unless you legitimately have a planned out timeline and are taking steps to achieve those goals).

Waiting for Monday

So many people start working on new goals on a Monday. Or the first of the month. Or the first of the year.

So you’re telling me that you can only start improving your life a minimum of once and a maximum of 52 times per year? No. Not good enough. Stop waiting for Monday. TODAY is day one. I don’t care if it’s a Tuesday, or the 29th of the month, or if it’s January 5th. Start working on your dream TODAY.

My fitness journey

I ordered a fitness program online in June 2014. It arrived on a Thursday. I started that day. On a Thursday! I made Thursday “Day one” of this journey. I went into it knowing that with exercise and nutrition as a daily habit, I would thank myself in three months. I made two goals with the program: finish it, and lose 15 lbs. I did finish the 60 day program and went on to complete 4 more (ranging from 21 to 90 days in length) and am working on my 5th exercise program.

This is what works for me.

Maybe your fitness journey is deciding to get a gym membership, or do free workouts on YouTube, or go jogging, or subscribe to a fitness On Demand program. The important thing to remember is that small steps create big changes over time. If losing 50 pounds is important to you, you need to make it happen. One pound at a time. One workout at a time. One glass of water, serving of vegetables, or “no thanks” to a cookie at a time.

There’s never any time

Another trap on your way to making your dreams happen is the belief that you don’t have time. Here is a secret: The most successful people in the world have the exact same 24 hours that you have. What are you doing differently?

My business journey

I started freelance writing in December 2011 and have written for the same client since then. I had long been considering looking for a full time copywriting position at a marketing company for a while when it occurred to me that I could be my own boss and write for the clients I wanted to write for. With some technical support (and a ton of encouragement) from my boyfriend, I recently launched a business as a freelancer, working exclusively with companies that make the world a better place. Companies and business owners like organic farmers, local restaurant owners, organizations that support women and children, birth and maternity care professionals like midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants, and people who create all-natural products for homes and bodies.

It made sense. I am extremely passionate about these types of organizations and small businesses, and I am extremely passionate about content marketing and writing. It was clear what I had to do. But how on Earth could I start my own business while working full time (with a 1.5 hour round trip commute each day) and balancing another part time job on the side, all while trying to actually spend time with my friends and family? Building a business while working full time is HARD.

I had to find the time. You have to find the time. If this is your stumbling block and you don’t have the time for your dream, keep a journal for one week and track your time. Here are some places you might find it again:

  • In the morning before people get up (yes, you will need to get up early, it will be worth it)
  • At night after people go to sleep (go kiss your family goodnight and then get to work)
  • On your lunch break at your full time job (if you eat in 15 minutes, that’s 45 minutes for your dream)
  • On your commute (dictate notes or listen to professional development books or podcasts)
  • On the weekends (the harder you hustle now, the sooner you will have the weekends back)
  • When everyone else is watching television (I know, Arrow is really captivating, but this is your LIFE)
  • Whenever you find yourself on Facebook or Twitter (put down the phone, go work)
  • When you would normally be attending a club, social hour, or other event that is not as important as your goal (stay in touch with friends but be firm in your priorities)

Following your dreams is not about finding time. You only have 24 hours. You know where they are. You have to decide what you put into them. Remember that sleeping is important though.

I can’t afford that

Money trouble preventing you from achieving your dreams? Get your finances under control. If you have debts, pay them off. If you think you need a business loan, reconsider and learn to do it without debt. If you can’t afford a nice vacation, find your money in the same way you found your time: pay attention to where it goes.

Go to your online banking information and pull the last month of records. Make a list of all your spending – what did you spend on groceries? Entertainment? Household purchases? Transportation? Impulse buys? Toys? Gadgets? Snacks? Bills? Debt payments?

Today is the day you get a grip on your finances and set some realistic goals. How much debt do you have? Make a plan to pay it off – aggressively. Good things come to those who hustle! You are not going to become a millionaire or afford that Cancun trip by making minimum payments. And for the love of all that is holy, stop digging the hole. Cut up your cards and make a commitment to never take on more debt. Make a written budget for your household each month and stick to it! YOU are the boss of your money, not the other way around.

Manifesting what you desire

This is where it gets a little crazy, kids. You can get whatever you desire, want, or need from the universe simply through believing it can be done. Sounds insane, right?

My sister had a couple of friends she had loaned some money to, and they never paid her back. The total was about $300. She wasn’t angry about it but she did express that she wished she had that money to save up for her moving expenses. Over the next two nights at her serving job, she made crazy tips and was within a few dollars of the amount of the loan. She put that “$300” energy into the world and let it go, and it came back to her.

My friend and mentor Shari, who quit her full time job with barely a safety net so that she could achieve her dream of opening a wine store, has been flying through her project by the seat of her pants, never knowing where the next piece of the puzzle was going to fit in but somehow managing to get it all taken care of. She asked the universe for a $5000 investment and between her partner’s contribution and a very low interest personal loan from a friend she had that $5000 to complete the project within a week. (I know, debt bad, but this is how it worked out for her). She also got her permits put through their channels with pretty unprecedented turnaround times.

I had a big mental road block to getting down to business in my new freelance career and I put my finger on it. There was no space for me to work in the house. I was working on my couch, usually with the tv on in the background. I couldn’t focus. I needed a desk. I knew I could find an awesome desk for under fifty bucks on Craigslist, so I just scrolled the postings each day and kept an eye out. Suddenly I saw it. A beautiful hand-painted PURPLE desk. PURPLE!!! It was perfect for me. It was listed at $40 but they came down to $30 to get it out of their apartment before they moved. It’s all set up in our home office now and I have been putting crazy time into the business since then, waking up early to work and also working after dinner instead of watching tv all night.

The formula for manifesting is simple and hard at the same time:

decide what you want + tell the universe – worry

Yes, you have to let it go and quit worrying about it. The universe hates being pestered. You must take action (such as checking Craigslist for the desk I wanted), but to continually say every day “I WISH I COULD FIND A DESK” would be counter-productive. I would be too focused on not having the desk that I wouldn’t be able to manifest it into my life.

Alright, enough woo-woo for today. Let me know in the comments if this topic would interest you to learn more about, I would be happy to share more!

It’s not the right time

You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Go for it!

Seriously though, I can relate to this one especially when it comes to having a baby. It seems a small miracle to be under 30 and not have started a family, but I have a lot I want to get done first. It really isn’t the right time. When I say this to my grandbaby-crazy father, he tells me there is never a right time to have a baby.

That may be true, but there can be a less not-right time and a more not-right time… right?

It’s not the right time for us because I want to have the option to stay home with the baby which I cannot do without either my business replacing my full-time income or my partner getting a pretty awesome paying job. Also, we have too much debt right now (in my opinion). Hence the $50,000 payoff plan for 2015. If we can pay all of that off, we will be down to my big student loan and our baseline operating expenses would be well able to take the hit of mama staying home with the baby, which is a huge priority for me.

I know it’s not the right time for us right now because we are prioritizing the future payoff over the desire to have a baby sooner.

But you, right there, yeah. You. Quit makin’ excuses. I wanna see you hustle. Make today DAY ONE.

Pick a topic

I talked about a lot of topics this week, and I want to go deeper and tell you guys more. Which of these things would you like to hear about next week? Let me know and let’s talk about it.