The last blog post I wrote I was flying to Phoenix, and this one is now being written on my flight home. There’s something about writing on airplanes that I love. I think it’s because I’m confined to a seat for multiple hours with very little distractions! Plus – it’s pretty damn spectacular to look out the window from time-to-time and see a broader view of Earth down below. This flight is particularly gorgeous because we fly over the Grand Canyon. A different perspective always helps in allowing my ideas and creativity to flow.
Normally I only go to Phoenix to spend the holidays with my family. It’s usually 7-8 days of activities galore, and the time goes by quickly because most days are so jammed pack. If you read my last post, I mentioned I booked a one-way flight because I was planning to stick around for a while and work on book edits and get some extra time with my parents. I was feeling really exhausted after 3 Make It shows, so I figured a couple extra weeks in the sun would be healing for my mind, body, and soul.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur – or someone who’s pursuing your dream, you can probably understand there are typically 2 speeds. Go and stop. When you are making things happen it’s easy to put EVERYTHING into it and for it to consume a big portion of brain power. This is especially true for all the Makies and myself around holiday show season. It’s like you live and breathe your business and then all of a sudden – BAM! – it’s Christmas and the gears are switched from high to low.
This can be anticlimactic and jolting in many ways – just like it would be in a vehicle. I for one find the shift very hard because leading up to the shows I have very poor work/life balance, and then all of a sudden, I’m watching This Is Us every night with my family! From the outside, it appears that I’m relaxed, but sometimes it takes my brain a while to catch up with my body. I know I “should” be chilling out, and I often feel pressure and guilt about not being able to be present. Plus – I always have SO many ideas for new projects I want to launch in the New Year. Why don’t brains come with volume dials?!
When I’m in show mode I also find it very difficult to read books, but the longer I was in AZ, I slowly was able to get into a state where I could sit for several hours and read. The two books I read were Playing Big by Tara Mohr and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Both were interesting reads, and gave me some fresh perspectives that I hadn’t considered before. Often when I’m super busy I tell myself I just don’t have time to read, but what I realized is how important books really are. I forget the actual stat, but we have a massive amount of repetitious thoughts from day to day. The only way to get new ideas into your consciousness is to actively consume them.
I also realize once my own book is published, I will have influence on how other people might see the world, which is a completely thrilling and terrifying idea! Anytime we put our work out into the world it has the potential to alter and touch someone else. As exciting as this idea is, I think it is also the same reason that making something happen is so damn hard! It’s the uncertainty of it all.
The start of a New Year often makes me sick to my stomach. Because I’m an idea person, I always have an infinite number of exciting projects I want to start, but most of the time I also equally scared to start any of them. Or, I’ll start and then quickly feel like I’m in over my head and want to stop. Ugh. This feeling is the worst. I think the reason it’s particularly hard is because of the stark transition from Make It – to rest and relaxation – to full speed ahead again. It’s like going to the Scandinave Spa in Whistler and jumping from the hot to cold pool!
One day I woke up and realized something simple yet profound. Are you ready for this?? I’m in control of how I feel about everything I do. Maybe you’re smart and have already figured this out! I had heard the idea over and over again, but it took a while to actually sink in. So often I put all this stuff on my plate and then I freak out over how the hell I’ll ever get it all done. When I realized that the only person that was putting all this pressure on myself was me, I was able to go about things in an easier and gentler way.
If you can relate (and probably can if you’re also a slightly crazy entrepreneur!), an important realization is that your work isn’t what defines you. Sure, people will make assumptions and judgements based on who you are from your business, but at the end of the day that’s only a small part of who you are. Who I am in relationship to Make It is only a tiny part of me, and it’s the same way for you and your business.
Leading up to the holiday Make It shows I got consumed by my work – to a point that wasn’t healthy. Normally I’m a pretty fit person, but I let my workouts be replaced by working longer hours, and I wasn’t being very conscious about what I was putting into my body either. I knew I was slipping, but I was sucked into doing more, more, more. Because I love working hard, and feel very fulfilled by what I do it took me a while to fully understand the toll my unhealthy lifestyle was taking.
The problem with overworking, is society doesn’t look at it as a problem. Sadly, it’s the opposite – as entrepreneurs we are told the only way to get ahead is to work our asses off. There’s a glorified idea that who works the hardest and longest wins. But what does that actually mean and what is the prize?
One idea I really liked from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, is that you have to look as what your beliefs are on measuring your success. If you aren’t fulfilled by your determined measure, then you’ll constantly be on the hamster wheel spinning around. When I did some self-reflection in Phoenix, I realized that if I wasn’t working really hard all the time and making visible progress, I felt like a failure. This is great for productivity and the reason I’ve accomplished a lot, but it’s not sustainable. I also was fuelled by public acknowledgement because it made me feel significant, and like what I achieved mattered. This is natural to a certain point, but I know my relationship to it wasn’t so healthy.
In 2018 my approach is going to be different. I have no desire to experience burnout or compromise my health again. The new measure of my success is going to be how I feel. If something isn’t feeling enjoyable, inspiring or fun, I’m not going to do it. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to have days where I won’t have to do things I don’t want to do (like taxes or data entry), but if a project or plan doesn’t evoke continuous enthusiasm I know it’s best to focus one that does.
If you are a self-motivated achiever like me, you probably do a heck of a lot more than you even realize. Before chilling out for 3 and a half weeks at my parent’s house, I used to feel lazy and guilty for watching a movie. I was addicted to productivity and found it extremely hard to take my foot off the gas. Going fast has always felt a lot more comfortable and natural for me than going slow, but I realized last year it came at a cost. Health and well-being is a pretty massive sacrifice.
At the start of each year it can be comforting for have a plan and a list of things you want to accomplish. I know for myself this is something I always do because I know useful it is. This year I have a lot of big plans I’m pumped about, but my approach to them is going to be different. From writing my book, and doing a lot of introspection, I now know the difference between allowing it to happen instead of forcing it to happen.
Hanging out with my parents forced me to s-l-o-w down big time. There were days I went a bit mental because I was so itchy to get back to Conscious Lab, see my Make It Team, and get back to work. But I also knew in my heart the prolonged change of pace was good for me. After a while I embraced indulgent days at the pool, petting my elderly cat Phoebe (who has sadly since passed away), and watching hours of TV. I still worked, but at a much slower and deliberate pace.
Making your dreams a reality is a beautiful way to live, and something so many of us strive for. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to do what I love for my entire adult life. But, what many successful entrepreneurs leave out when they are talking about their glamourous lives is that it all comes with a cost. It’s just a fact. I’m not saying it’s not worth – it TOTALLY is, but you have to be conscious of how much you’re willing to give because if you don’t set boundaries you’ll sink into over-achiever quicksand.
We get one shot being here (at least that we know of), and there’s nothing better than discovering your passion and doing what you’re born to do. What I have learned is awareness and checking in with yourself is more and more important the higher you climb. Knowing why you do what you do will allow you to realign when you get off course.
Hiking in breathtaking Sedona (photos here!) with my mom and aunt reminded me how easy it is to get off course if you don’t watch where you’re going from time to time. When we got a bit lost, we had to look at where we came from and figure out how to get back to the path we had chosen to take.
When you’re on your own path remember to look around from time to time so you can see how far you’ve come, and more importantly – how spectacular the view is no matter where you decide to stop for a moment and catch your breath.
I’m wishing you an incredible 2018, and sending so many positive vibes your way! If you have any exciting ideas or plans to share, I’d love to hear them. Your emails and comment always encourage and inspire me to keep on writing. Thank you for reading and my biggest hope is there were nuggets from this post that will be valuable to you.
Psssst! Applications for Make It spring and holiday shows are now online! If you want to be part of the Makie family apply now!