“You’re trying to do it all,” my coach said — gently accusing me of taking on more than I could handle without burning out.
I had just gotten back from a business trip to test a workshop concept and told my coach I’d have it turned into an online course by the end of the month.
And when I told her the rest of the things on my list to accomplish, including book proposals, keeping up on my social media schedule, taking individual coaching clients, and starting an email list, she said, “You’re trying to do it all.”
“No,” I assured her. “I’m not trying to do it all. It all works together. Everything I do supports my brand as an author, and it’s all related. It’s all one thing!”
Okay, she caught me. I was trying to do it all.
I had spent a solid two months developing the workshop into its current state by working on it — and only it — for weeks, while my ideas for other projects got put into a list for later.
My focus got me this far, and I didn’t want to lose momentum.
Since I wanted to start 2020 off organized and with a solid calendar of social media and blog content, it stood to reason that I could not turn my workshop into a six week course at the same time I was writing a book proposal, learning how to make an email list, and regularly posting on my social accounts.
I needed to give the course a little room to breathe while I created the channels I will use to give it life when it’s ready.
Curiously, I wondered what had been making me think I needed to launch myself into the next huge step instead of making a plan that made sense.
Why was I still hustling?
The answer came to me as I was in the middle of a conversation with someone about something my mother did to me as a kid.
After my sixteenth birthday, I decided I wanted to learn to play guitar. A friend’s mom had an old acoustic one sitting around in a garage and she gave it to me.
I named my guitar Lorelai, and she stayed in my room looking very cool. Sometimes I’d take her out of her black case with its shiny silver buckles and I would strum and try to play a chord or two.
But I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have a plan.
One day, I received a phone call from my sister.
“Mom’s having a yard sale and she’s selling your guitar.”
I exploded over the phone in livid, shrieking tones at my mother that she had no right to sell my guitar!
She replied coolly and calmly, “Well, you haven’t learned to play it. If you tell me when you’re going to learn to play it you can keep it.”
I felt trapped. I didn’t have a plan.
I could not give her an answer I knew would be true and wouldn’t get my guitar scrapped upon the deadline if I hadn’t kept up my end of the bargain.
She offered an alternative: I could keep it, but she wanted to nail it to her living room wall as decor.
I let her sell my guitar.
The false promise of hustle and perfection
That need to figure out a new hobby right away, to be the best at something immediately, to only bring something into my life if I have a plan for it is directly related to the way my mother treated my hobbies.
I had to earn the right to have an idea by hustling to put it into motion.
But now that I know where this belief comes from, I can take away the power it holds over me.
My approach to undoing mental obstacles is similar to trauma therapy. Find the root of the negative thought (in this case, mom sold my guitar because I didn’t learn it right away = I must constantly be working toward a goal as fast as I can), and then process it.
What would the ideal situation have been with my guitar?
- I would have been allowed to keep it as long as I needed until I either decided to make a plan to learn or I decided to let it go. That decision should never have been forced.
- If I had decided to stop learning guitar, that decision should have been accepted and not attached to shame for not trying hard enough, or assumed that I never wanted it in the first place. People can change their minds.
- I would have had opportunities to learn from people who could teach me in a way that made sense. I was limiting myself to self-teaching, when I could have asked for lessons or help. I didn’t have to learn something new in a vacuum.
- My mom would have supported that I was interested in a new creative hobby and encouraged me to learn at my own pace. I should not have had to justify my desire or my timeline.
Chasing immediate perfection is never the answer, because we all deserve the time it takes to evaluate if a new idea fits into our life and our plan for growth.
I can’t imagine telling anyone, especially a child, “You have to learn this immediately or I’m getting rid of it.”
The pressure of that edict was enormous, unfair, and harmful.
It has kept me in a pattern of thinking I needed to always be jumping to the next thing in my life in order to achieve goals at breakneck speed and learn new skills as quickly as possible. I need to execute things perfectly, and quickly, in order to not lose the thing I’m working on.
I have to succeed before it’s taken away and I lose the chance forever.
Replacing the negative pattern
- I have plenty of time to get this new skill right.
- It’s okay to take my time on this project.
- This project is part of my plan and I don’t need to rush it.
- I am in charge of how long it takes to learn something new, and I can take as long as I need.
Those beliefs feel so much more loving and supportive.
It might take a little time and practice, and I will need to repeat these new beliefs a lot while I swap them out for the old one.
But that’s okay.
I can take as long as I need to learn something new.
PS. I’m teaching people how to stand up for their boundaries after traumatic pasts in my six week course that starts Monday. Email me to reserve a spot at 50% off list price.