When I had my school, the Mt. Nittany Institute of Natural Health, we’d help students get to know each other by asking ice breaker questions. One of my favorites was, “What would be the 7 words you’d put on your tombstone?” To me, this was a way of asking, what’s your motto? How do you want to be remembered? And, most importantly, What’s shaping how you move in the world right now?
My epitaph at the time surely would have read, “She Made Things Happen.”
At that point I’d already traveled through Europe alone, moved countless times, started a lunch bar in a health food stare, launched a women’s organization in New York City, created a successful massage practice, directed the creation of the NY branch of the Kripalu Yoga Center, and, of course, opened a state licensed school for the holistic healing arts.
But all that disciplined, focused, tenacious energy almost derailed me and my dreams. Twice!
Exhaustion, burnout, and other health issues resulting from constant overwork and worrying led to some serious health issues. I finally listened to my body and made some important changes in my routine, including learning to say No to others and myself.
I really thought I’d licked the perfectionist work monster! But it only went dormant and came out sideways later on.
Fast forward a few years and I close the school, with the intention of, “Going home to be quiet.” I spent the next two years resting, and recovering from the 15 years of intense work and stress, with much of my time spent in quiet contemplation. So restful, so lovely! My epitaph would have read, “She Learned How To Just Be.”
What I didn’t realize at the time was that a paralyzing fear was creeping in. The fear of overworking and becoming exhausted again. That fear was so strong that although I had a complete plan for the online Holistic Life Coaching Certification program done and ready to roll out 3 years ago, I was too worried about overworking and getting exhausted again to do it!
It seemed that all I knew was either “All On” or “All Off”, and I had no concept of a sustainable, balanced way to take on a big project.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or just someone with a lot of stuff going on in your life it can feel like you have to be “On” all the time. Always productive, focused, and accomplishing things. Relaxation can feel like laziness, with self loathing not far behind.
I’m here to tell you this is all wrong. You CAN find a middle way, you CAN learn to use your tenacity and drive to accomplish great things, without your inner perfectionist making you sick, exhausted, isolated, and burned out.
And if you feel like you’re a lazy procrastinator who never gets any of their ideas off the ground, you can change that, too.
I launched the Holistic Life Coaching Certification program this week, for what I hope will be the first of many years. The six ideas, below, are keeping me creative, happy, productive, and thoroughly enjoying this new adventure. I’m not sure what my epitaph will read, but maybe it’s “She Figured Out A Few Things.” I sure hope so.
6 Ways To Stay Balanced While Accomplishing Your Dreams
1. SEPARATE THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFE
Odd metaphor from a grain-free girl, I know, but what I mean is, keep the qualities in you that work for you and toss out the aspects of them that don’t. So, for example, I want to keep my tenacity and discipline, so that when I do sit down to work I can get a lot of good quality stuff done, but I want to toss out the idea that I need to be that way all the time, to the exclusion of everything else. On the other hand, if you’re great at kicking back and relaxing, but not so good at moving projects forward, learn how to make your projects fun and keep that relaxed feeling going in more parts of your life.
2. FIND YOUR SHADE OF GREY
Work Robot >>>>>>>>>>>> Balanced Success <<<<<<<<<<<<< Lazy Slug
Where are you on this continuum? Let go of the black or white world of either being a Work Robot or a Lazy Slug. The key to my Balanced Success has been to regularly schedule time for hanging with friends and for volunteering, two things that keep me happy and from turning into an isolated work robot. Many of my clients see me regularly in order to be held accountable for pursuing their dreams, keeping them off the Lazy Slug end of the spectrum.
Figure out the one or two things you have to have in your life to keep you a Balanced Success and keep returning to those things, adjusting for the changing requirements of your life.
3. CREATE A MORNING ROUTINE
I can’t tell you what you’re morning routine should be, since it’s different for everyone, but I can tell you what it should do for you:
- Bring you into your day calmly. (None of this “shot out of cannon” stuff.)
- Focus and energize you (Journaling, yoga, exercise, a walk, or meditation are all good options.)
- Nourish your body. (Your mother was right, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!)
- Prepare you to be organized, clearheaded, and productive.
4. RESPECT YOUR TIME
Schedule everything. Which means scheduling time for yourself, everyday, even if it’s just a little bit. You’re a smart person, you can find 20 minutes.
5. TAKE PLAY SERIOUSLY
Play time is not just important for children and kittens. Research shows that you actually have to have mental, emotional, and physical downtime OFTEN in order to be creative and productive. Hint: watching TV and playing video games doesn’t count. Play a board game, jump in a pool, read for pleasure, have sex (safely, of course).
If you’re a Play Master, then my message to you is Take Yourself Seriously. Your ideas, dreams, and hopes matter and you deserve to give them the energy they need to become reality. Call me if you want some accountability help.
6. TRY AGAIN
You’re human, as far as I know, which means you won’t be able to keep up all these great ideas every day. So what? Just start over. I do it at least 3 times a week!
Annie, I needed to read this this morning. I’m in that same place of burnout and feeling like all my best skills are currently being used to keep my anxiety at bay. Thanks for the reminder that balance IS POSSIBLE!! I want to go from ‘Tired of Keeping it All Together’ to ‘At Peace With Herself and Her Choices.’
Love it, Sarah!
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ the 6 ways to Stay Balanced While You Accomplish Your Dreams post! I got a few “pearls” from your message.
I am forwarding this to several of my friends, who – like me – will benefit from reading this!
beautiful! Thanks for sharing it, Pam!
Wow! That scenario fits me! I will work on it. Thanks!
Thank you Rebecca!
Annie, this is something I NEEDED to hear. I am feeling stuck right now. I want to get out of feeling I am “ON” all the time. my physical and emotional is feeling it and I know exactly what you were talking about because i am there. Thanks for this! I am hoping to come to see you sometime.I have wrote the 6 things down so I can put them into play. thanks again and hope to talk to you in future! I will be reading more from you!
Thank you Michelle, I’m glad this spoke to you. I look forward to seeing you when the time is right.
Ah, that fear. I too have 3 or 4 projects sitting on the shelf, so to speak, and that fear of taking on more is niggling at the back of my mind. So there they sit. I really needed to read this today – thank you!