I Said No to Shoulds and Found Sustainability

WashingtonMy so-called monthly newsletter went unsent for months and months. 8 months in fact. I haven’t sent one all year! Plenty of other Shoulds didn’t happen either. I’m sure no one but “L’il Miss Perfect” in my head noticed what I wasn’t getting done.

After letting L’il Miss Perfect try to make me feel bad about it, I decided last spring to replace her with a more useful perspective. I decided to honor my body’s stress signals instead of some externally-defined schedule. Marketing formulas be damned!

Here’s exactly how I keep moving towards more sustainability overall… for my body and for my bank account. Psst, less newsletters did not hurt my business at all. Listening to my body has helped my business.

I decided to change the focus from Shoulds to:

  • What’s actually sustainable for my life?
  • What’s sustainable for my business?
  • And how can I best help other people with their work/life sustainability… without losing my own?

After a stressful few months last winter, I found that my work habits weren’t feeling sustainable for me and my body. Neckaches were trying to tell me so. I was working too long at the computer on some days, and feeling it. Not that I was productive all that time at the computer. C’mon, let’s be honest. Long hours do not equal productivity.

I discovered some simple steps to turn it around, described below.

From Reactive to Relaxed

When we’re stressed, we get stuck in Reactive mode and can’t seem to find our way out of the hole. Here’s how I’ve been switching from Reactive and Stressed mode to Proactive and Relaxed mode:

  1. Pause and tune in to my heart and notice precisely where I feel the stress. (In my case: overthinking/ “monkey brain” is the focal point of stress.)
  2. Look for ONE simple action that could bring ease to that area. (Restorative yoga helped calm my mind.)
  3. Then keep checking in with my heart regularly to repeat the process. Keep seeking and following the path of ease. (Yoga was not enough to solve everything so I let in more help at work and stopped working long days.)

It’s Working

If I keep prioritizing finding more ease, everything works better! I have more energy and a calm mind at work… and after work. And that means more focus for nurturing my clients and my business… which equals more income too. The investment pays off. Rest pays off!

Sometimes it’s kinda weird how little effort it takes to keep the business running. The old me says that can’t be true… even while it’s happening. Ha.

What’s sustainable for my body is also more sustainable for my bank account… it goes together! Get it?

No, really, look at that last sentence and let it in. The skeptic in you is saying No, isn’t it? We are so programmed to think that we can only earn money if we are exhausted in the process. Turns out the easy path is more productive and means more income in some cases.

Taking More Shoulds Off My List

The hardest part for me is letting go of so many of the ideas that my idea-generating brain really wants to do. Truthfully I don’t want to tackle that much, even if I had a big staff. I literally have to sit with my coach sometimes and go over my list to take things off the list. We should call them Editing Sessions. She knows what really matters to me and helps me lovingly set aside some good ideas so that I can complete the most cherished ones.

After all this work on my own sustainability and enjoying the results, I’ve gotten excited about sharing what works with others since so many of us struggle with it. I started focusing more of my work on work/life sustainability, such as in my Sustainable Self-employment Group for Introverts, and in some upcoming videos.

As for that “monthly” newsletter… I’m actually sending one this month, and who knows when the next will be. My body will decide.

Comments, Celebrations, Questions?

You can post questions and comments on the blog here or on my Facebook page.

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  • http://locksmithelmhurst.org/ Elmhurst Locksmiths

    I totally agree. Our basic idea is that the energy we present to our job is far more important in terms of the value of our work than is the number of hours we work. By managing energy more efficiently, it is possible to get more completed, in less time.

    • http://www.valnelson.com/ Val Nelson

      Thanks for commenting Elmhurst. I’m glad you resonated with the idea of managing our energy as important.