Last week I gave a great pitch to West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust. With a new sense of abundance in the air, it seems like lots of things that have been so difficult for so many years are shifting. And yet it is difficult for me to trust this. I am 100% programmed to think that every single thing has to be super hard. Because I grew up with: “hard work pays off”, “nothing comes for free”, “you have to work harder than everyone else to succeed”.
And then there were the past 10+ years where it was unclear if there was a benefit to how hard I was working. Work hard in highschool, study hard for SAT,work hard in college, work hard to find an extremely mediocre job after college, work hard in the Peace Corps, work hard to get into grad school, to earn a fancy public health degree, to prove myself at that first job. I just kept working hard, and when the hard work didn’t seem to be paying off in terms of fulfillment or dollar bills, I assumed it was because I wasn’t working hard enough or maybe I just wasn’t good enough, period. I now see clearly that no matter what I achieved, if I didn’t believe that I had value, the opportunities available to me would mirror that belief.
I talked briefly last week about how my mindset has shifted: I am good enough just as I am, I am deserving of resources, support for my dream, a great way to make a living, just as I am and I trust that the support I need is here and is coming. And everything has shifted. Now things are coming easier. And yet I still try to overwork them. I spend Friday, my first free day after many days working on my pitch and arriving at my restaurant job at 6:30am, fidgeting about in a beautiful park in West Virginia because my computer wouldn’t turn on and I’m still convinced, in spite of the shift towards abundance and love and trust, that I don’t have value if I’m not working. I literally don’t have value to Mother Earth. And writing that here it sounds so sad. Impossible! And yet I’m quite certain I’m not alone here.
There are two dangerous forces still holding us back that keep us from resting when we need to and loving ourselves constantly: we only have value when we are working and we have to work hard for everything we need. Sometimes we do dumb stuff to hold ourselves back like not sitting down and making sure we have properly prepared for an informational interview. Guilty. Been there. But often we are overdoing it, trying to work and push harder when that’s not what’s needed. Do you have to show up and do the work? Do you have to put in the time? Certainly.
But what is often most needed (especially among workaholic Americans) is not working harder but changing your thinking. I am enough today. I am enough right here. I deserve to live out my dream. The resources are there. The job that will allow me to live my most fulfilled life is waiting for me. I don’t need to work harder or be better. I just need to believe this with EVERY fiber of my body. And then that big energy will sigh and say FINALLY! Finally you get it.
And why is this so vital: Because life is a long journey. We need to nourish ourselves along the way to sustain ourselves. It will not do to overwork ourselves at tasks that do not require it. It will not do to keep pushing ourselves when we need to rest, eat something healthy and move our bodies. Our goal: 1. No more or less effort than what is required for each task. (It is helpful to check in often on tasks big and small to ask yourself “Am I overdoing this?” 2. To provide the nourishment-food, health wellness, community, movement, sleep-we need to sustain ourselves on this long journey.
Entrepreneurship is just a series of mostly fairly simple tasks. But lots of them. It is thus the perfect playing field to learn about not overworking any one of them. If you spend too much energy on any one task, you will be depleted for the rest. And the trick is to conserve your energy, spread it around to keep the wheels turning across your business. Nourish yourself constantly to fill your tank as you go.
And of course this is all much easier said than done. We have to learn to stay true to ourselves, communicate with each other constantly, and work through discomfort and personal blocks. I am rooting for you. It is not easy, but we will get there. And our world will begin to look different. If you look closely you will see that the changes are already arriving. What a blessing.
Go, fight, win.