empty well

Are you a Human Being or a Human Doing?

Recently, I hit a metaphorical wall and realized that my well was depleted – I have been giving all my energy away and not saving enough for myself for my family. While I was showing up for people I worked with and new connections that were engaging with my webinars and presentations, I was not able to show up for my family in the same way. So I had this constant nagging feeling that I was out of alignment in my personal and professional life. 

It has been a rollercoaster year for nearly everyone on the planet. When the pandemic hit and we shut down in March 2020 I did what I’m good at – doing! I set up an exercise and yoga routine, woke up early, meditated, and worked out. Over the summer I started running, and then decided to challenge myself and I completed a half marathon in November. Then in the winter, I added 2 new sports to my usual downhill skiing routine – skate skiing and earning my turns by trekking uphill and skiing down.  I was on a roll. It kept me busy, busy, busy…. No time for thinking, just lots of doing.

Work-wise, I was doing presentations, creating content, hosting webinars and exploring how I could help elevate others — in addition to my consulting practice, running a multi-million dollar project that had its own challenges and curveballs. I launched a new workshop around the 6 Pillars Project Leadership framework and I was riding the momentum with big plans for the next series. 

In reflecting back, I can see now that my body was giving me signs that I was pushing too hard, but I kept ignoring this and kept going. I was getting frequent migraines that would come and go.  I hurt my back (putting on my ski boot – seriously!) and I still kept going. I was like the EverReady Bunny…. 

Until a few weeks later, I couldn’t get out of an armchair after sitting while working for a few hours straight as my back had seized, and then — at the same time — I got a screaming migraine in my head.

And THEN I got the message – I realized that my body had a loudspeaker and it was screaming at me to stop what I was doing and pay attention.  So — reluctantly — I did. 

I immediately put my upcoming workshop launch on hold, and cancelled plans for upcoming webinars.  I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t take on anything new for a while, and I would step back to give myself time to rest and heal and time to rethink my approach. 

In the last month, I’ve had highs and lows as I’ve gone through withdrawal from the hustle of doing. I haven’t been sitting around – I still have client projects however I haven’t been pushing hard on my training and coaching business. I took a break from writing (did you even notice?) and hosting webinars and events.

I’ve had more time for me, and for my family. I’m enjoying making meals for my family and feeding my oldest son before he heads off to college this year. In a LinkedIn post last year, I wrote about my Dad and how he has reinvented himself – an object in motion stays in motion. The danger of stopping any motion is that inertia sets in and you then have to work harder to get it restarted. I’m putting this fear aside for now.

As I make my way through this short break, I am saving space for exploring what really makes me tick, to discover what I am bringing into the world, and where I can be of service to others. 

Reading the feedback from students in my PM workshops, and from the thousands who have seen my recent PMI presentation on the 6 Pillars Project Leadership framework (I’ve been blown away by the response to this presentation), I realize that many of us are running on empty — and many of us do not have the luxury of taking time off to “find ourselves”. There is work to be done, bills to be paid and families who need to be looked after.

So we have to figure out how to shift our focus to add in daily practices that will help us fill up our own well as we give our energy to our work and our family. We have to put on our own oxygen mask first. 

I’m currently reading “Bliss Brain” by Dawson Church and highly recommend it. I love the science behind how our brain and energy works. He talks about how we can get a temporary shift by watching a show, or reading a book. We get inspired to show up differently, however it only lasts a short time and it then fades away as we go back into our usual routine. 

Real change and transformation requires daily practice. The act of building on small daily habits. Taking 15 minutes to practice meditation (for a short real meditation that avoids “monkey brain” check out Dawson’s ecomeditation), walking outdoors between meetings, booking time in your calendar for exercise, or just booking time for space and to think. 

As we enter year 2 of the pandemic, many of us are feeling the burnout. Globally we seem to be burning energetically, maybe releasing pent-up energy — old fights are reigniting. People are tired.

Real change starts with each of us and our own energy. 

If we can give ourselves the gift of space to nurture and cultivate our own energy, fill up our own well, and then let our light shine out to others, we can create a positive energy shift in our own life that will ripple out to our family and our community. 

Do you have time to take a few minutes to find space for “being”?  

Do you have time not to? 

As I am writing this, Marie Forleo’s weekly newsletter has just hit my inbox with this message “Growth only happens when you embrace the lows instead of trying to escape them”.

That sounds like a good place to leave it for this week. 

Take time to stop and create space for yourself. Check in on your own energy and ask yourself what you need. Let me know what you discover. 

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8 Comments. Leave new

I fully agree! However, i find it is harder to do then what it sounds. I will have to focus and relax as much as I can to allow myself saving the energy for new ideas to help others better

Reply

    Yes, I do agree that it is hard then it appears to be Loc. However small daily practices can make the difference. For example, I used to listen to podcasts while I walked – getting knowledge and exercise – however now I just walk and stay present, and give myself the quiet time and space to think. My best ideas have come to me this way.

    Reply
Lina Gentry
May 19, 2021 2:01 am

Totally! Sometimes we just need to stop and rest. No one is going to do it for us. This will help us redirect our energy and rearrange our prioritizes to continue our journey.

Reply
Stephanie Jaeger
May 20, 2021 7:38 am

Thanks for sharing. Yes I also hit a wall – see my LinkedIn post sharing this article. I felt like the biggest failure and was overwhelmed and overworked with no time for myself or family & friends. Even when giving talks about leadership I felt like the biggest pretender. Until I put on the breaks and started breathing, taking time to just breath, having weekends where I just go for walks and read nice novels. I started taking speaking opportunities only when I felt like taking them and refused a few. Yes others may be getting more certificates, degrees and actualize more new opportunities, but at what cost? At this stage in my life I need time for myself. Once I shifted my focus I was better again. But we have to keep checking in with ourselves to ensure we do not overwhelm ourselves and we are not burning out.

Reply

    Hi Stephanie, thanks for sharing your story. I think that lots of us are feeling the same way. It is a good time to pause, reflect and regroup to plan next steps. Hope you can carve out some essential quiet time!

    Reply
Isaac Maina Manyeki
June 5, 2021 8:51 am

Thanks all for sharing.
My break came late last year. I was chasing far too many things. Working from home and preparing for my exams, my little girl who is happy to see dad around all the time, helping my other girls on their zoom classes, virtual meetings everywhere 🙂..I had no time for self. Then one morning 🌄 I fell and broke my arm. Everything came to a halt. All the deadlines were forgotten. I was immobilized for close to 2 months.

This gave me time for self reflection 😔. Time for me and me alone. Going foward I determined that on times of good health this is something I will definitely need..so help me God.

Reply

    Sorry to hear about your arm but hopefully you have made a full recovery and have figured out how to build time into your daily calendar?

    Reply

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