March is finally here and I cannot get over how 2018 started. OMG, why was January such a grueling and long month? I know it wasn’t just me. During the start of the year, my clients were really going through it. I even noticed it with friends and acquaintances on my timeline and social media feeds. It seemed as if everyone was having some big or small meltdown, and we were all so thankful for February to come and free us from the emotional and mental tyranny January brought. February luckily felt a little lighter, but as I think about my intentions for March, one very thick thread across the experiences of myself and others I’ve heard from boils down to one word:
The very beginning of the year for me could be characterized as “The Breaking Point”. I’ve experienced so much change recently, and while it’s wonderful and beautiful being a new mom, the identity shift is no joke. Not only have I been navigating this new version of myself juggling what it means to be in my business, be myself, be a new mom, and be a good partner, I’ve also been living with my parents for the past 8 months. In the suburbs. Yes. I’m so grateful for having been able to do that, and I know it was the right decision. And with that said, let’s get real:
After spending years cultivating an authentic, affirming life and environment on my own terms, I experienced a complete shift in identity, a re-surfacing of “family of origin” issues and all that comes with being at your parents’, and the toll that suburban life takes on a little city mouse like me. Needless to say, I have been completely out of alignment.
Anyone with a rational mind might say “Hey, that’s a lot to be going through”. But what was I saying to myself?
No big deal, you’re not working hard enough.
It’s not that serious, you really need to push through.
This isn’t stressful, everything’s fine and hey, you really need to be more productive.
I pushed. I hustled. I pushed. I hustled.
The Universe kept giving me small signs in the form of snowstorms interrupting plans, and my sitter not being available because of the crazy flu epidemic. One and a half weeks gone.
I pushed. I hustled. I pushed. I hustled.
And then I had a very powerful, break-down-to-break-through moment, which took a lot of energy out of me. Another few not so productive days gone.
But I pushed, and I hustled.
Then everything I had gone through mentally, showed up physically. I had a terrible pain in my back and chest that just wouldn’t let up. It went away after days of having to rest and not do too much. Then my son got a fever. And after all that was done, I had even more physical stuff show up. Another week and a half down.
After what felt like an entire month of doing nothing I got to a point of, “Why, God, why?! Can I just get one thing done?”
My intuitive sense was steering me toward focusing on self-care and getting my house in order.
But I didn’t want to listen.
Sometimes you need to just have a seat.
I’ve been super determined in my quest to build on the alignment and authenticity work I started last year. But doing the work takes work, and the stopping and starting that’s sometimes natural in our progress can be so painful and feel like we’re only getting worse or surely regressing. The negative voice in our head will tell us that we’ll never make it and we certainly don’t have what it takes.
Instead of continuing to ignore the signs and my intuition, I finally took a step back and asked myself what was really blocking me from moving forward. I knew that it was a form of resistance, but I couldn’t really see exactly how I was resisting. Why was I continuing to push against what felt like a brick wall of all signs saying, “Please have several seats”?
Then I noticed a pattern among what many of my clients were going through. In at least three different coaching conversations I found myself asking questions like “Are you allowed to work and have it be easy?” and “Are you allowed to rest even if you don’t get everything done on your list? Are you still worthy?” Each time, it would be the question that would stop them in their tracks and the heavy layer of resistance would finally be broken through.
I was helping my clients give themselves permission to rest, to be good enough as they are, to do work they enjoy without being anxious that it was wrong because they weren’t slogging away at it. And then I remembered the one question that my business coach gave me that I had been ignoring. I had been tasked with writing myself a permission slip around my work and how much money I was allowed to make. I was all “Oh, that’s such a great idea!” and then completely avoided it. Why? Because it was exactly the challenge I needed to come face to face with my sh*t and move through a block, of course.
Write yourself a permission slip.
Doing this exercise is the epitome of what it means to Do The Work. For those of you who are only into ToDo’s and Checklists for getting things done in your life and business, this is going to feel really weird. This is a friendly reminder that if life and business were all about checklists, everything would simply just get done. Because we’re human beings and not robots, we have all kinds of mental, emotional, and sometimes physical baggage and stress that can be a barrier to accomplishing our goals — especially when we’re trying to level up and change our habits.
When I wrote my permission slip, baggage that I didn’t even know I had about what I feel I’m allowed to do or have poured out of me and onto the paper. It was eye-opening to say the least, and there’s nothing like having clarity to help you get your sh*t together fast.
After I wrote my permission slip — even though it didn’t seem to be directly related to what was happening with me at the moment — it freed me up and helped me understand exactly where my resistance had been coming from and what my intuition was guiding me towards. In my heart, I knew that I needed to allow my homemaker-hat to take the forefront for a period of time, but I was experiencing so much anxiety and tension because I was unable to devote a significant amount of time to my business. This tension led to the negative and irrational thought that if I wasn’t working on income generating activities then I wasn’t contributing at all to my household. I was thinking this even though a typical day included me doing two or three loads of laundry, navigating phone calls or emails to health insurance or utility companies, cleaning, nursing, cooking, and running errands with a baby either attached to me or needing my attention every ten minutes.
These thoughts and the pressure to perform were coming from no one but me — and our culture’s negative and dismissive views towards the very important work of women at home — and I quickly realized how it was completely getting in the way of me being my best self. I needed permission to be really good at all the home stuff and also good at my business at a pace that felt right for me. That simple change in my mindset made all the difference.
Curious about what I wrote? Here’s my permission slip.
Seriously, you need to write your own permission slip. Now.
You know what the #1 killer of productivity is? You spending the majority of your energy in some form of resistance and not taking the right kind of action. Whether your resistance is in the form of battling with the negative voice in your head, making excuses, ignoring that you need to eat/sleep/drop something that’s not working, not addressing your baggage, etc., it takes up a whole lot of time and energy and can be debilitating.
Taking the time to write a permission slip gives you just the right amount of distance from all your sh*t to help you be gentle and compassionate with yourself while also revealing your internal blocks and baggage. Having that kind of clarity and the permission to be who you are and want what you want completely shifts your mindset and puts you back into where you want to be: taking aligned action. For me, right now aligned action looks like resting when I need to, being present with my family, feeling good about working on household stuff and having reasonable expectations for working on my business.
Where do you start?
Please know that you don’t have to be having some sort of crisis or breakdown to do this exercise. Also, here’s one crucial thing to keep in mind before you start:
Don’t "should" yourself to death. It’s okay for you to want what you want how you want it. It’s okay to want a lot of money. It’s okay to want to live more than just comfortably. It’s okay to want things just so. Trust me, you have permission to be, do, feel, and have all the things.* If you start writing something and it makes you uncomfortable, that’s the whole point and you’re doing it right. Keep going.
I'd love to hear how it goes for you. What are you giving yourself permission to do? What surprised you about writing your permission slip?
*These statements assume you’re not a completely narcissistic, terrible person and you’re working towards a better life for yourself and others. The world needs you to live in an authentic and aligned way, which is not separate from having money and the things you want. I strongly believe that if everyone was in integrity on the inside and out, the world would be a better place.