“Before helping others, put on your oxygen mask.”
How often do we hear this common flight instruction tossed around as a metaphor? We nod and agree, and then often, go back to throwing ourselves under the bus, doing the same things over and over, wishing for a different result. So, let’s be honest: this instruction is hard in the day to day doing.
It’s no simple thing.
When I said goodbye to corporate accounting many years ago, I left behind 80-hour work weeks, crushing deadlines and painful posturing.
The last year I worked in a corporate setting full-time, I consciously decided to bring some balance back into my life. I stopped bringing my computer home on the weekends or weekday evenings. I took a lunch break away from my desk. I worked out in the company gym regularly (and it was nearly always deserted). Most important, I stopped reacting to the false sense of urgency that kept everyone amped up and on edge and started asking clarifying questions about priorities before automatically signing up for a project or a deadline.
It wasn’t a popular choice. Without buying into the crazed pace and the hyper-busy party line of my company, I ended up shut out of decision-making and I was treated differently. It was painful. I felt caught between a rock and a hard place: I knew that working at that pace was not sustainable (or healthy), nor did I believe people were actually doing their best work and yet, it was the norm and the culture. However, if I didn’t buy into it, I was no longer part of the winning team.
I had to choose, and, as hard as it was, I chose me.
Fast-forward through leaving corporate accounting, the joy (and stress) of getting married, becoming a yoga teacher, having a baby, then choosing to pursue a career as a coach. When I started my coaching business, I found myself creating the same kind of hectic pace for my own business that I had experienced during my corporate career. Granted, I was doing work I felt called to, but still, I created an untenable work environment for myself.
When I realized what I had done, I was puzzled. And curious.
I can point to any number of facets of our culture, my own traumatic imprints (and the ensuing anxiety), and unhelpful beliefs that led me to recreate this framework for my own business: an unconscious coupling of “busy” and “money”, a deep feeling of scarcity and a need to overwork to feel (barely) equal, a truly driven work ethic passed down by many generations, the culture that I was educated in, and work environments that push on people in such a way that we believe we must keep going no matter what the cost to us personally.
The fact is, I, like many others, unconsciously agree to these terms and conditions believing we have no choice. We blatantly disregard the consequences this type of behavior has not only on our lives, but on our relationships, and society at large. To do it differently requires courage to challenge the status quo and culturally swim upstream.
Different choices are the path to new outcomes.
Only you know what it would mean for you to shift the paradigm and tend your energy, first. But discovering your Truth (and the subsequent actions) begins with two questions:
Who do you want to be?
How do you want to move through your life?
I, for one, am in it for the long-game. I want to move with deliberate presence through my days and my world. This means I prioritize tending my energy first every day. I sleep 7 - 8 hours per night. I exercise most days and I focus on quality food that makes my body feel clear and alive. I don’t drink alcohol or use other substances as substitutes for real rest. I spend time outdoors. I journal daily to gather my thoughts. I minimize social media time and I take time to do things that light me up: breath, meditation, dance, and communing with plants and animals. I take time away with my family regularly to recharge and reconnect.
Not only do these elements of tending my energy bring me joy, but I am more efficient, engaged and inspired when I am in a groove with my nourishing practices. Honestly, I get more of the right things done and I’m better in every way. I am more discerning. I am more empathetic, more loving and more connected to my own wisdom.
It used to bother me that I felt present and filled up while others were complaining/bragging (you know what I mean) about how busy and tired they were. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I don’t want to live my life in a constant state of being behind: being in that draggy state of tired and wired is the ultimate embodiment of scarcity mindset.
Choose you, today and every day.
Make no mistake, sister. Tending your energy changes the game on every level. It is an affirmation of your commitment to receive nourishment and to move into the world from a place of overflow. It is the strong foundation for the woman you, are the woman you are becoming, and the work you are here to do.
Tending your energy first allows you to be at your best. To be a force of good in the world from a place of abundance. If you need it, you have my full permission to offer yourself the depth and breadth of support that will nourish you, and leave you full.
You are Invited
If you are a woman beginning, or growing, a business who lives and works with anxiety, exhaustion and a feeling of perpetual scarcity or you have experienced trauma and you are ready to create a foundation of tending yourself, consider joining me. Create a solid foundation for you, and your work in 2020: I am welcoming 6 women to a bespoke experience of The Trauma-Sensitive Business via individual coaching. I’m taking applications through mid-December.