Slowing down sounds good…great even…but it’s harder than I thought.

slow-down-quoteTo understand, you need to know a little more about me: I’m always moving. I grew up determined to be successful. I was born into a successful family. Even my great grandparents attended college. My biggest fear was failure.

No one put pressure to succeed on me. I put it on myself.

I stayed on track during school – having fun along the way – and graduated in four years. I was proud to snag a summer internship at a PR agency in Phoenix, which started the week AFTER college graduation. And so I “walked” on Friday, moved to Phoenix on Saturday, and started my internship on Monday. Eight business days later – they hired me on as a full time entry-level associate. And I’ve been working hard ever since.

In my professional career, I tended to “create my own nightmares,” meaning that I would try my hardest to exceed expectations and succeed. And then I had to live up to those new expectations every day moving forward. But it was never enough, I would keep trying to set the bar higher and higher.

Sadly, I set unrealistic expectations for what made me a good PR person and didn’t set any boundaries. I burned myself out constantly. But it was the only way I knew how to work.

It took me nearly three years seeing a talented counselor about my stress levels, anxiety and depression before I was finally ready to break the cycle.

I shook as I drafted my resignation letter. Cried. Almost immediately wanted to take it back. Thankfully, I have an amazingly supportive business partner who knew I needed to make changes in my life, and she wouldn’t let me give up on myself. Neither would my family, who’d grown increasingly worried about my stress and especially how it was affecting my children.

And now here I am…one month in. Here’s how it’s gone.

Week One: WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!?

Ah, yes…I panicked. Big time.

I sat in front of my computer waiting for client emails that didn’t come. Did my business partner need me? Was I being selfish and stupid with this whole move?

Then I looked at my dirty kitchen and wondered – yes, WONDERED – if I needed to do more around the house now that I wasn’t going to be working as hard professionally. Did I need to become one of those moms who wore cute clothes to pick up and who could have a play date on a whim because their house is always perfect?

Well, I had made the change to live my passion for writing…and I had started this blog…so was it time to go “full-roar” on it and turn “Life’s Etc.” into a money-making entity? Was I ready for that? Did I even want to do that?

I walked from room to room getting nothing done, feeling entirely lost. Then, “Oooh look, Facebook!”

Week Two: I’m here for you! 

After a solid week of wondering who the heck I was, I decided it was time to recommit to my business partner and make sure she knew she and her writing projects were my first priority.

“I can’t be your first priority,” she replied. “That’s not the point of all this.”

Shit. Okay.

What was the point of all this? I tried to remember.
…to fulfill what I truly believe to be my God-given purpose here on earth.
…to be less stressed.
…to be more present for my family and friends. 

So I did what my counselor had suggested. I breathed. I read the bible. I allowed myself to go to my kids school to help out – twice in one week! I got together with friends. I did things I didn’t feel like I could do when I was in my full-time role.

I asked my children what they needed from me – more play, less time on my phone. And so I put the sacred phone away and actually used some of the tips and tricks I’ve read about from amazing authors like Gretchin Rubin of The Happiness Project and Rachel Macy Stafford of Hands Free Mama.

Week Three: Maybe I can do this.

My now former business partner was sick and dealing with sick kids – so I got to indulge in some serious backtracking and churning out work. Haha!

But, I still spent an evening writing for me and took the initiative to begin learning about the possibilities of one day making money from Life’s Etc. I’m very proud to say that I was careful to only take baby steps and not turn the fun I have writing here into a new nightmare.

Week Four: It will fall into place.

I’m finding my groove, and starting to get into a pattern with personal and professional (PR) writing days. Most importantly, I’m making the time to look for and listen to God’s guidance instead of going into workaholic,  taskmaster mode at the first sign of trouble.

I’m embracing that this whole process is going to be a roller coaster, and that I’m not going to enjoy every moment of the ride. But, I’ll share the ride with you. If nothing else, I can be a voice of reassurance that you are not alone and at least two of us have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. ;o)


So, you want to slow down?

I realize that not everyone wants to go off the deep end like I did, but you can slow down. Here’s the five things I’ve found to be the most impactful in helping me:

  1. Put your cell phone away – like, in a cupboard where you’ll hear it ring, but can’t check it habitually – for a set time frame each day. For me, it’s after school (3:30pm) to around 8ish.
  2. Give your kids 1 hour to avoid meltdowns the next three. Seriously. If you’re scattered and don’t focus on those tiny people for a bit, they’ll be tugging at your leg all night long.
  3. Develop a schedule. We always tout how important it is to have kids on a schedule, but not us. So, if you have 5 hours between when you finish work and bedtime, think about what your ideal evening would consist of.  Maybe an evening walk? Reading? Etc.
  4. Put your personal and family activities in your calendar – like, your phone calendar, with reminders! If you don’t give it a scheduled time, it probably won’t happen. Life is distracting. Don’t get distracted from what you want to do.
  5. Force yourself to stop and remember the big “WHY.” Why are you doing this? Why is it important? Is it (the activity, stress, etc.) helping you get where you ultimately want to go in life? If it’s not…let it go. Give it to God…chuck it in the trash…whatever works for you…but let it go.

 

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In 2013 my Uncle gave me some life-changing advice: He told me about the unintentional "no." I had been lamenting my struggle with whether or not to continue teaching at the local university. I always seemed to have work conflicts. And my kids - then ages 5 and 2 - seemed to always be sick, or needing me at the exact time I had carefully set aside for developing my next lesson or grading work.…