For me, the year 2019 kinda sucked. Little did I know what the next two years would bring, with all of the horrors of COVID. But at the time, I thought 2019 was the worst.
It started hopeful, as most years do. I was managing a huge first-time project at work and anticipating a big promotion and raise mid-year. I had been in the role going on 5 years and expected the promotion to be the next major step in advancing my career—one that I’d carefully planned and curated for myself as an editor and content strategist.
The job paid very well; I made more money than I ever had in my life; I oversaw all content initiatives for the business, and I managed a team of creatives to execute the projects. I was part of a remote team and worked from home, affording me plenty of flexibility in my schedule. To the outside eye, I pretty much had it made.
But I had little time for my own personal projects, so I spent a lot of evenings and weekends working to make progress on the things I cared about most: the literary magazine that I publish, my book, independent client work, building my personal brand. Not to mention everything I do to stay healthy: yoga, meditate, juicing, smoothies, tracking how much water I drink, keeping my supplements replenished and planned out for the week.
Oh, and socializing, let’s make time for that. And relaxing, just doing nothing, let’s make time for that too.
It was a lot.
And I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it all, and do it all well (Enneagram 8 here 👋🏼).
I kept telling myself the job is a good job (it was). It pays well (it did). I was doing the kind of work I wanted to be doing (sort of).
In quiet moments when I was honest with myself about the work I could honestly say, yes, I edited content. Yes, I worked with writers. Yes, I helped others (primarily my boss) tell stories . . . about email marketing, and starting podcasts, and building an audience, and running an online business.
I kept telling myself I’m in my field (technically). I get to work with authors (sometimes). I’m doing what I was trained to do (mostly). I’ll gain exposure for my own work in a role like this (not really).
Being stubborn and determined, I kept grinning and bearing it and waiting for things to get better, waiting for my so-called big break (whatever that was—I didn’t even know, just kept telling myself it was coming).
It was like this all year. And the one big story that I kept telling myself was: I need this job. I need this salary.
My husband and I had bought a house. I was the primary breadwinner. We were dependent on my salary for the mortgage and all of our other bills. But I kept seeing that mortgage number in my head. The most I’d ever had to pay for a place to live. If I made a change I had no idea how we’d ever make it.
I kept telling myself, I need this job. I need this salary.
In September one of my best friends and I took a trip together to celebrate turning 40. We went to Greece for a yoga retreat. I’ll say just two things about that trip right here: 1) Yes, Greece is everything you imagine it to be from the pictures you’ve seen, and 2) Yes, that trip was as epic as it sounds.
The reason I bring up this trip is that going into it, after the year that I’d been having, I was not physically well. I’d gained a lot of weight. I wasn’t practicing yoga as regularly as I was used to, and when I did I felt weak. I felt like I had lost the strength and stamina I’d gained after doing yoga for nearly 10 years.
I was worried about practicing yoga twice a day, every day, for seven days.
I worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that my body would fail me.
I worried that I’d be exhausted and wouldn’t be able to enjoy the trip because I’d have to sleep and rest so much.
I worried that there wouldn’t be food I could eat.
I worried that no matter what I ate, I’d have negative reactions.
Can you tell that I was in such a bad place that I’d worked myself into this remarkably negative mindset?
And yet, I still managed to get myself on that trip. Something deep inside was willing me to go. I knew that I needed it. Badly.
We had 90 minutes of vinyasa yoga scheduled each morning. The first morning I was worried, but I kept my concerns to myself knowing I could rest in child’s pose the entire session if I needed to.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, I did it. I did all the poses, all the vinyasa flows, all of the high-to-low push-ups, all of the up-dog back bends, and I did it all marveling at the strength that had been dormant in my body.
Toward the end of the session, I stood in mountain pose amazed by my body and the strength I didn’t know I had. It was not the first time that had happened to me in a yoga class, and I felt so grateful for a practice that continues to show me, physically, tangibly, how I often limit myself. I felt so overwhelmed that I started to cry. (Writing this now, I’m crying again remembering that feeling.)
I stood there and let the tears roll down my face, knowing that I needed to release this emotion and whatever had been pent up inside of me for so long. And in that moment a quiet voice rose up from within me and it said, “You don’t need them.”
And the tears kept coming.
I had been telling myself I needed certain things for so long—the job, the salary, the experience, the “exposure,” the safety, the security, the WHATEVER . . . I could go on.
When the truth is that what I really needed was a shift. A shift in perspective. A shift in mindset. A shift in what I thought I needed to what I actually needed.
When the truth is, I had the strength I needed within me the entire time.
Ask yourself, what shifts do you need to make to achieve the things you want in life?
If one of your goals is to finish your book, be sure to watch my free masterclass, Finish Your Nonfiction Book: Three Shifts You Need to Make.