Being a recovering workaholic, the doing feels easy as it’s familiar. I can easily churn and hustle for hours on end, especially if I’m passionate or highly invested in it. I can be hyper focused and chase one goal after another.
…but I want to show up differently.
Being busy doesn't equal productivity
I don’t want to be busy for busyness sake. I also don’t want to get so caught up in the work that I disregard other areas of my life. That pattern has led me to burnout over and over again. I’ve been at the edge of that experience several times… and instead of pushing through like I used to, I’ve started to pull back out of fear and concern. (I know this isn’t the best reaction long term, but at least for now it’s snapping me out of old patterns until I develop better ones.)
I’ve started, stopped, restarted, and paused again. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been annoyed. I’ve continually chased after other possible solutions⎯hoping one of them is the magical answer that solves it all. Of course, my doubts question my resolve and encourage me to give up. But the harshest is my inner critic chastising me for not doing it right, not doing enough, and not doing even better. It keeps pitting me against others, highlighting my shortcomings, and showing me my failures.
Each time I pull back, I take the time to self reflect and reevaluate:
Is this really what I want?
Is this in alignment with my vision?
Is this sustainable in the long term for me?
So who do you model after?
People say “don’t reinvent the wheel” and “model after someone who has done what you want to achieve”. They’re both great advice, but there are also plenty of other factors you don’t see when you first sign up for those proposed strategies, or you’re not aware of until you try to implement them.
On the surface, it seems easy. But one expert says this is the one thing you should do, and then another says that is the real key to success. I’d get so distracted and pulled in different directions by all of these “shiny object” advice. I have plenty of self help content turned “shelf help” as they are tucked away collecting dust and unused.
After a while, it feels like I’m blindly running through a maze based on other people’s commands than my own conscious will.
It's still on you to do the work
You can only copy and paste their bigger picture strategy, because you still have to make it fit your particular situation. You have to factor in all of your own unique circumstances. (You don’t know what factors others had to go through at their particular moments in time. When they reflect back, they can only give you a superficial glimpse as they don’t always remember or are fully aware themselves.)
You have to dig deep and determine your own why to keep going. You have to rely on your own persistence and consistency to build that necessary foundation for your success. Ultimately, it’s still all on YOU to do the work. (Yes, even if you throw plenty of money at the situation, which I have repeatedly done, you still have to do the work. There’s only so much someone else can do for you.)
And here’s the tricky situation: You don’t know if that strategy is going to work UNTIL you put in the time and energy. You don’t know if it truly resonates with you until you experience it. What you do can be that clutch move that changes everything or the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
You can project your success but you cannot accurately foresee your future. You can learn from your past but you can only make changes in the here and now. What happens in the future is just a possibility.
The shift I'm making
This is my core concern: I don’t want to just do do do. Instead, I want to do from my being. I want to carve out and follow my own path that feels in alignment with me.
Doing for the sake of doing doesn’t serve you in the long run. One day you might wake up, look at your life, and question: “Is this really the life that I wanted?” or “How the hell did I get here?” You’ve followed what society, culture, and others have told you what you should want and do with your life. So much so that, you then realize that your life isn’t your own anymore. That was me⎯my Neo-meeting-Morpheus moment.
So I took the red pill. The change was jarring. The shift does take time to settle in. I am still learning how to do things differently against my programming and the norm. There are times I wish I could take the blue pill again so my life would feel so much simpler. Sometimes doing all this personal inner work feels tiresome and never ending. Of course, I can understand why it’s easier not to.
But I’ve also tasted the sweet bliss of alignment. Once you’ve experienced it, you can’t go back. Doing from the alignment to your being does feel liberating, more fulfilling, and sustainable long term. There’s more congruency to your values, personal philosophies, and life vision. There’s a deep sense of faith and trust that you feel unshakeable. You are meant to follow your heart and soul. It’s your societal and cultural programming telling you to conform instead.
This is the inner battle I’ve been fighting
It feels like an internal world war clashing. What I’m choosing for myself is revolutionary. I’m revolting against what doesn’t align with me. I’m challenging myself and reforming what I believe. I’m tearing down inner foundations and rebuilding them differently.
I’m not going to sugar cost it. It constantly feels uncomfortable. It is time consuming. I’m repeatedly questioning my beliefs, my motives, and what others tell me. And at times, it can feel like a lonely battle. That’s why I’m so grateful for the friends and mentors who have supported me, challenged me, and kept me sane on this path. In moments of uncertainty, I know I can rely on the life vision I’ve created as my North Star to gut check my decisions and remind me where I’m going.
Even when you’re taking action from your being, you are still faced with difficulties and hurdles, but it becomes your own personal choice, not placed upon you by others. When that inner fire drives your actions, that sense of “it just feels right” is intoxicating. I feel more willing to explore. I am stimulated by the curiosities of what’s possible. More importantly, I feel so much more alive.
It's all a part of the process
One of the influential writers I follow, Tim Denning, has shared that this quote drives his entire life: “To get ahead of the 99% of the people, you’ll have to do what the 99% is unwilling to do.” He says “Most are unwilling… to put themselves out there. If you do what most people refuse to do…, you will go far. Challenge your assumptions. Refuse to accept your current beliefs.”
I am a continual work in progress.
I’m also learning how to be more vulnerable in my writing and practicing how to share my lessons and experiences in a more authentic way. So thank you for joining me on my journey. I’d love to hear from you as to what you’re enjoying, what resonates, and what you’d love to hear more about.
Cheering you on wherever you’re at in your journey.
Psst, the featured photo is by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash