I’ve been feeling a bit down recently. It’s weird to say this out loud (or type it in this case) as at first glance it might look as though I’ve been doing pretty well.
Business is going well, I’m working on some exciting new projects and the older ones are finally getting wrapped up. I feel like, slowly but surely, I’m getting all my fires under control. I’m happy and excited about where my business is and where it’s going.
My life on the other hand… that’s more complicated.
Chaos vs routine
I’ve been struggling with getting into a healthy routine and only now realised how unhappy I am with myself and my lack of motivation to do anything about my health (be it my weight, my strength, my flexibility, my mental health, my eating habits or my sleep).
I have so many amazing books, but lately I’ve always ended up mindlessly watching telly and killing hours in front of my laptop. Often, I’ve felt really angry with myself for doing that, as we’ve been having such lovely weather (I’ve really missed a proper hot and sunny summer) and I’ve been wasting my time hidden away in my room.
I started and quickly gave up on running regularly, doing yoga at home, eating less and making healthier food choices, eliminating technology and blue light in my bedroom (before I go to sleep and first thing in the morning). I’ve also tried to start journaling several times, but I can never stick to it for longer than a few days.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing any of the things above. I mean I love running, yoga, meditation, journaling and I enjoy eating healthy and nutritious food, but it’s never been my priority and my heart has never been 100% in it. And that’s why I struggle with motivation and consistency.
Business, on the other hand, I can still follow through on anything I set my mind to, I can work long and hard, I can make sacrifices, step outside of my comfort zone and push through uncomfortable feelings and pain when needed.
So why can’t I do the same when it comes to my life?
I’ve always struggled with the concept of self-care and self-confidence (actually anything related to the self-stuff) since I can remember. I’ve always been good at taking care of others, thinking about their needs and feelings, anticipating their needs and wants, but not my own.
Only recently I started realising that it’s partially because of my parents. They always put theirs and my health, needs and wants last. Back home it wasn’t unusual to worry about what other people will think, what we need to do to make them happy and ‘approve’ of us.
Even though I’m slowly starting to learn that I don’t need to worry about other people’s opinions, it’s still hard to put myself first sometimes.
Living on the roller-coaster
This year has been filled with an emotional charge when it comes to my family. Since my father passed away earlier in the year, I’ve been going back home much more to be with my mum. Previously, I felt pretty content with living my life abroad, the way I want to live it. But this year, suddenly, I started feeling guilty to doing things my way and living my life far away from them.
The more often I was coming back, the more I felt torn into two pieces. I wanted to make my family happy, I wanted to be there for my mum and help her, but the more I did this, the more I started losing myself, the more I started putting myself second, third, fifth, tenth in line. My need and wants and opinions started to matter less and less to me.
I learnt a long time ago that, to my family, there’s only one opinion and one truth that matters – and it’s their own. They don’t listen, they don’t try to have an open mind to see the word the way it is – they are happy living in their bubble seeing the world the way they’ve always seen it. And anyone who doesn’t fit into their view of the world is wrong.
Only last week, when I was supposed to go back home again, I realised how much I suffer mentally every time I go there. I was standing in front of a tough decision – to go and be there for my family or not to go and be here for myself. It was hard, but in the end, I decided not to go and I haven’t been happier for a long time!
Living your own life
Being an adult is an interesting challenge. Not only that you need to deal with all the adult things like paying rent and other bills, but there are other challenging parts of being a grown-up.
It could be finding the right work-life balance, figuring out what do you want to do with your life, adult relationships and also dealing with your parents. My relationship with my parents has always been complicated, but in recent years – since I moved away to uni – it started to get better as I slowly started building my own independent life. Since I moved to the UK, our relationship got better (at least from my own perspective), as we all focused on living our own lives.
This year has shaken up this balance a lot when my father suddenly passed away. I spent a lot more time back home with my mum, I travelled more frequently back there and I tried to do as much to help and support her. But while doing so, I slowly pushed away my own needs and my life… to the point when I started losing the sense of myself.
Only this week, when I was supposed to go home, again I’ve realised that I can’t continue to try to live a double life – my life my way and the life my parents want for me. They are way too far away from each other, and I need to learn to stop feeling like a disappointment when I don’t follow the path my parents want to see me on.
Put yourself first
I know that I’m repeating myself with this lesson, but it seems like I haven’t learnt it properly yet.
Aside from struggling to put myself first when it comes to my family, I’ve also been struggling to prioritise certain projects and tasks in my business. I love helping people out, I love volunteering and working on community-focused projects, but I can also easily get too involved and stretch myself too thinly with side projects.
I tried to re-evaluate and cut back last year and earlier this year, but I always end up with new and new projects eating up my time and myself getting more and more overwhelmed.
That’s why I think it’s important to put some time aside and regularly re-evaluate your priorities, your goals, all the projects you’re working on etc.
There’s a difference between busy and being productive, between hustling and being aligned and determined to achieve your goals.
Travelling is the right time for me to pause and be present. We often look back and live in the past or we worry too much about the future. For me, the best ideas, decisions, results and visions happen whenever I’m somewhere new and just enjoying myself being present.
What do YOU do to stay focused and aligned with your life and work?
Because I haven’t been writing many of roundups recently, I have quite a few books that I’d love to recommend to you. Yay!
The latest one is a book that was recommended as “life-changing” at the last Marketing Meetup by one of the speakers. Chris Spalton @ChrisSpalton talked about creativity, sketchnotes, being an artist, being an amateur, working on your skills and much more. And a lot of his ideas came from this book … Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered by Austin Kleon.
“The trouble with imaginative people is that we’re good at picturing the worst that could happen to us. Fear is often just the imagination taking a wrong turn.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and what role it plays in our lives, business and success. I’m pretty open about the fact that I often fear that I’m not good enough. I still battle with Imposter Phenomenon a lot. Unfounded fear is often stopping us from reaching our potential and I know that it’s holding me back very often.
Embrace being an amateur
“Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”
“Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re in love, so they don’t hesitate to do work that others think of as silly or just plain stupid.”
These two quotes really nicely summarise how I often feel when it comes to showcasing my work, trying out new things and generally running my own business. I’m still learning to be ok with making mistakes (and not allowing the fear of potentially making one to stop me from trying out new things). Also, I still need to work on not worrying too much about other people’s opinions.
I loved this book so much that I had to order Austin’s previous book Steal Like an Artist straight away. I know, I’m reading them in the wrong order, but it doesn’t matter!