The Introvert’s Easy Path To Going For It… Without Getting Overwhelmed

One of the main worries I hear from introverts sounds like this:

“How am I supposed to put myself out there when I’m too introverted for that?”
OR
“How can I move towards what I want when it feels overwhelming just thinking about it?”

Have you said anything like that to yourself?

I’m an introvert too and I know I’ve said those things. Luckily, I have learned through experience that phrases like “I’m too introverted for that” or “I won’t be able to handle it” are false. Not just for me, but false for all of us. I’m not saying you need to become someone other than yourself either. In fact, don’t do that! It won’t help or feel good. I’ll explain.

The truth is that you don’t have to get overwhelmed or drained when you go for something you want. No matter if you’re introverted, extroverted, or in between. Really.

Our human brains play a trick on us, trying to keep us safe, by telling us that if we leave the comfort zone of the known, we’ll freak out or get overwhelmed, like in the image below. So we feel stuck and we stop moving forward. It’s very common to get stuck right there.

Comfort zone vs overwhelm zone image

This is what your brain tries to tell you, to stop you in your tracks: “Don’t leave the comfort zone or else.”

I’ll explain in the video below with a simple diagram that will give you a big Aha moment. (Making the video was outside my comfort zone so you can watch me facing my discomfort zone in real life.)

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The Joy of Silence… Even If It Makes You Squirm At First

Many people knew I went on a 5-day silent meditation retreat last month and have asked me “How was it!?” I think this captures the range of thoughts behind that question, and perhaps you’ll recognize your own reaction in here:

  • “I don’t know if I could handle that. That’s not for me.”
  • “Hmm, that could be nice but I don’t have time for that. Maybe one day.”
  • “Oh wow, silence for 5 days sounds great.”

When I heard others going away on these retreats over the years, I had that same range of reactions, first starting with the most resistance to gradually more intrigue. Mostly I thought it was for other people.

As my meditation practice has grown more easeful and rewarding over the last few years, I found myself curious if a retreat was for me after all. Something in me felt ready, partly to take on a new challenge, but maybe more so because of an ache in me to hit a reset button.

On the surface my desire for the retreat looked like a simple desire to escape the email inbox for a few days. That alone was starting to sound like nirvana. And I knew it was more than that.

It was a deeper knowing that I was being pulled too far into the sped-up, digital-driven lifestyle. It wasn’t feeling like the true me. I knew I needed to power down and find my true center. Don’t you crave that sometimes too?

Finding Center

 

It was time. I signed up (at Insight Meditation Society) and the sweet anticipation began, for a noticeable wait of 4 weeks.

Now that I’m back, I want to answer “How was it?” but it’s hard to put the power of silence into words. It was profound for me, in fact. I am tearing up as I write this.

I’ll do my best to share my discoveries. In this Western culture, we have such discomfort with silence and stillness… and we have a simultaneous deep need for it. I want to give you a window into the power of it.

I’ll start with this. Let’s take a pause, right here in this moment.

Inhale. Exhale.
Oh, that is kinda nice.
Maybe another inhale, exhale.
The inbox can wait.

Here’s what happened when I hit the giant pause button for 5 days.

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Is It Self-employment Induced ADD?

The most unexpected thing about becoming self-employed was how much trouble I had focusing once I was working alone. I wasn’t great at focus before, I admit, but it became a huge challenge without the structure and community of a workplace to go to.

I started thinking I was going crazy or that I’d suddenly gotten “self-employment induced ADD.” I would do housework when I needed to be working, to avoid facing that scattered mind, only to find that the head-spin would get worse and worse. Sound familiar? (C’mon, raise your hand. It’s so common.)

In our push-push culture, we think the cure for focus problems is to push ourselves harder, get more disciplined, learn better time management, etc. Right? But I believe a more effective cure is to get some co-workers… in a way that works for us. We need camaraderie to keep our minds sharp.

I know, introverts like me who love the peace and quiet of working alone will resist this idea, at first. Hear me out.

[Image: Humans are pack animals too.]

We are pack animals, just like wolves. The lone wolf success story is a myth. (Click image for source and Creative Commons license.)

It’s a big shift to go from working in a company with co-workers all around you, to working on your own. Even when you’re thrilled by the freedom, the shift away from the workplace community is stressful for anyone. I see it all the time with my clients after leaving a job, and I can honestly tell them and you: You are not alone in that stress.

I’ll explain how I have found my balance between people time and alone time, which has mostly cured my self-employment induced ADD. (I mean, I still need some other focusing tricks but the people connection has been the core solution for me.) Continue reading

Do You Like the Sound of SOULpreneurs?

How do you like the sound of the word SOULpreneur? More relaxing than the word “entrepreneur” I bet. I find a lot of introverts, women, and many others don’t like the word entrepreneur even if they like the idea of being self-employed. Entrepreneur can feel too salesy or money-focused for some people’s taste.

When you tweak the word entrepreneur to something that has more soul, it’s a lot more appealing to me and to a lot of people. And that’s what business really should be — ethical, purposeful, authentic. Right?

A popular word for solo self-employment, solopreneur, doesn’t do it for me either. When I think of that, I feel lonely, dull, and tight-fisted. It feels like swimming upstream. When I call myself a SOULpreneur and think from that more expansive perspective, I feel trusting, inspired, connected to purpose, and connected to something bigger than me. It feels like swimming downstream, in sync with natural flow.

Many of us are following this new SOULpreneur paradigm for business… and making it work! Yes, aligning our hearts and wallets. It can be done.

One of the secrets is connecting with SOULpreneur community for refreshing validation, practical support, and inspiration. I’ll explain.

[Image: SOULpreneur connections are about heart-centered abundance.]

Connecting with SOULpreneurs feeds our heart-centered abundance.

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The Secret to Easier Marketing for Self-employed Introverts

Marketing Head Spin!

Marketing Head Spin!

Marketing angst is probably the most common concern I hear from people who are self-employed or considering self-employment, so I want to bring some hope to the cause right now.

I’ve been writing a business and career advice column for introverts that appears on Quiet Revolution and Huffington Post, and most of the letters I get from self-employed people are about some kind of dislike of marketing.

Here’s a question from a self-employed service provider that captures it well. I’ll give you an excerpt from that column plus a link to read the whole answer.  Continue reading