Here’s My Secret to Success — And It Probably Isn’t What You Think

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When I first left public relations and started my business, I rested. A lot.

And the more I rested, the more I needed to rest. It was like I needed spend days on the couch. I was more exhausted than I ever knew I was.

But I felt guilty—horribly guilty. I told myself that I was lazy. That I wasn’t taking this business seriously. I’d refuse to spend much money on myself—not because I didn’t have it, but because I thought I didn’t deserve it. I hadn’t worked hard for it—at least in this new business.

I remember even initially telling myself that I deserved time to rest because I wrote my blog post that morning—even if I did nothing else. And that felt reasonable to me at the time. In fact, it felt like the only justification that let me rest without guilt.

I look back at that and think, “What?! I wouldn’t even let myself deserve to rest when I needed it?”

I was reminded of this yesterday after I wrote an article for a publication and got off two very potent calls in a row. I was wiped. And I needed to rest for the entire afternoon. And my mind was trying to tell me that I had a million other things to do or that it wasn’t that much work, so I shouldn’t be so tired.

But I rested. Without the guilt.

It continuously amazes me to realize the depth of our conditioning. Feeling like we don’t inherently deserve basic needs. That we have to earn the ability to rest when we’re exhausted. Or get a drink of water when we’re thirsty instead of “just one more thing so I can finish this.”

In my experience, I don’t think most of us realize how utterly exhausted we are. How much we over-give and under-receive. And have been for years. Until we actually stop for a moment. And suddenly we begin to feel just how exhausted we are. Physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted. Always being the emotional anchor. Always doing that favor to help people out. Trying to keep everyone happy. Working our asses off. Producing the best results.

It’s exhausting. And then we don’t even let ourselves rest. Because there are millions of other things we could be doing. And because—was it really that hard? I mean, we shouldn’t be that tired. So we judge and shame ourselves into doing more.

I remember being laid out on the couch for about six months when I first started this business. Sure, I wrote every day for this blog and some articles. And, sure, I saw clients virtually (and even some in person). And, sure, I even wrote a book. But the majority of my time—in between clients and even while writing—was lying on the couch. Just noticing how utterly exhausted I was.

Now, I feel like my tolerance for exhaustion is much lower than it’s ever been. When I start to feel tired at all, I stop and rest. I can’t even imagine how I ran on fumes all of those years. It seems impossible to me now. And I’m shocked that my energy and my emotions weren’t more poorly managed.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t work like a lot of other people. I never have meetings before 10—and 11 on most days. And I stop work by five. And my day is usually has large gaps of ‘admin time’ blocked off—which might be for things like e-mails, team meetings, and website stuff. But it also might be for sitting with new ideas or meditating. And I always have a really, really trashy TV show to burn through for in between clients and when I need to integrate.

One the one hand, I work less hours than anyone I know. On the other hand, I’m always working. My mind is always dedicated to unpacking the work further. And that spaciousness is what allows the work to continue unfolding.

I used to judge myself for my ideal workflow. Now I can’t possibly imagine working any other way. Not only would I suffer, but the work would too.

Deepening into your subjectivity is such a powerful practice. Because, inevitably, it’s a practice in de-conditioning. We figure out what actually works for us and have to let go of the stories that tell us we have to do it a certain other way. And we begin to let go of the judgment and shame and guilt. And step into just living a life that makes us thrive.

For me, that’s resting a lot. And having spaciousness in my schedule. It’s what makes me bring my A-game to every situation. It’s what makes me successful.

What’s it for you?

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