Creating space in my business & life

Confession: I’ve been burnt out. I think I’ve been burnt out for a few months. But honestly, I only really realized this a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been talking about doing things differently and slowing down here for a while. And I thought I was living that. I thought I was moving “slow enough”. But, with everything going on, a few weeks ago I hit a wall. 

Something needed to change. That was clear. I was waking up dreading facing another week of doing business in the way that I have been for the past many months. 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. Collectively, I know so many of us are feeling the near-constant reverberations of what is happening on a global scale. 

On a personal level, my 2020 looked a little like this: I spent most of January and February grieving a significant loss. Then in March, Covid created an opportunity for me to move to a more rural area I’ve been dreaming of relocating to for some time. But it happened almost overnight. Suddenly we were living with my partner’s mum on her property, renovating a studio for us to turn into a tiny home, while processing everything happening on a global scale. And throughout all this I was still conducting my business as per usual. I took on more clients than ever while running my anxiety course for the first time. I felt so grateful and so privileged that everything could continue operating in this way for me, but I realize now I never allowed myself space to pause or adjust to this new way of living. 

By May we had moved into our tiny home and started commuting regularly to the city again to see clients there in person. Things only seemed to get busier, and yet online I was talking all about slowing down and taking space. But in my own life I was overwhelmed by work, endless renovating and moving tasks, and the collective grief and vicarious trauma inherent to the world we live in right now. June rolled around and with it the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the questioning of my own voice, privilege and the unpacking of so much I have taken for granted. I also created a self-study course on connecting with your inner child but even though I’m truly so excited about it, I felt too tired to do it justice with a proper launch.

At the end of June, I collapsed. I realized that I hadn’t slowed down all year. I’d just kept my business running and felt privileged and grateful to have the opportunity to do so. It had reached the point where it actually felt like I wasn’t in the driver’s seat of my business anymore. I had plans to launch a membership community in September and to keep my client loads as they were but it wasn’t feeling the way I wanted it to feel. On the outside, this looked like success. But it certainly wasn’t success on my terms. 

And then of course, amidst this realization, I got a job offer to instruct a fourth year undergraduate counselling course online at the university I completed my Masters at. I’ve always wanted to teach and this felt like an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. But I needed to create space for it. I needed to do things differently. 

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been quiet. I let go of the story that just because I launched a new podcast I needed to record regularly. I let go of the narrative that I need to always be showing up online to maintain my audience. And I’m working on letting go of the arbitrary numbers I think I “should” be earning each year and instead focus more on creating happiness and joy in my life rather than financial abundance. This one is definitely a major work in progress for me. I’ve taken a few weeks off to re-assess, get really clear on what my priorities are, cut myself some slack, and try to take back the reins on doing what feels good.

In practice, I’m making some changes, which started with giving myself permission to do that. The first one is to reduce the clients I see one-to-one considerably (cutting it in half from 10-12 a week to 5-6) and phase out my commute to the city for clients entirely by the end of the summer. The second is to slow down on launching my membership community and focus instead on nurturing everything I have already created. 

This will give me the time to really focus on the following five things which are my priority right now:

  • Slowing down and feeling more spacious in my life and my business 
  • Creating more clarity, intention and ease around my brand and content strategy
  • Running the Work of Healing Anxiety course again in the fall
  • Planning to launch a membership community in the new year 
  • Starting my contract to teach at the university 

A part of my intention right now is to show up online in the ways that feel good for me to show up, rather than out of obligation. I love when I can show up here, and be honest and authentic, but lately it’s felt more forced and staged. Instead, when I show up here I want my audience to know that it’s real, that I want to be here. So I’ll be striving to give myself permission to show up in that way more often. This might mean showing up less, or more sporadically. I don’t really know, but I’m ready to figure it out. 

This feels scary. The financial insecurity of seeing less clients feels scary. But I know I need that space to create in ways that are most fulfilling and easeful to me, one step at a time.