My new marker for my once-murky days.
This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about clarity, intention, and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. I am also a personal development strategist and coach working to help people regain their confidence and move past impostor syndrome. You can learn more about working with me here.
Happy Sunday, friends. My days have been a bit strange since I left my full-time 9–5 to work for myself. You don’t realize quite right away that the constraints of a routine imposed on you by an external force — constraints you saw as holding you back — also provided a sturdy scaffolding on which to build a life. I knew when I had to wake up, when I had to leave the house, the places I liked to eat, the things I needed to get done in any given day.
Now, I can wake when I want to. Eat when I want to. Work when I want to and go where I want to. Freedom!
Except… it feels exceptionally foreign and is asking me to tune into a sense of my body and spirit that I have long ignored because that steady scaffolding was there to tell me what to do and when to do it. Without that framework in place, I feel all sorts of akimbo. Should I be sleeping in until 9? Going for a walk in the middle of the day? Not showering till the afternoon… er, if at all?
So I’m trying to lean into a routine that feels right for me based on the intuitions of my mind and body. I’m getting there. It changes every day. The few things I try to stick to are morning pages, meditation, and a promise to myself to go outside once a day — they are steady lightposts as I fumble around in my newfound landscape.
What’s been most difficult for me, though, is the absence of solid markers of productivity. Before, at my jobs, if I turned in a complete project or had a certain number of meetings, the day was marked as a success. I could power down my laptop with satisfaction, knowing I’d hit the markers that had been defined for me.
And now? I make those markers. Except, er, I don’t know what they are. Building your own business from the ground up is all yours; you own it all, the work, the goals, the markers that used to be all comfortably set up for you by somebody else.
After a particularly frustrating day recently, when I felt like I had accomplished nothing, I went for a walk and stewed on my perceived inadequacy and unproductivity. I felt like a top spinning round as fast as she can — I was spinning, working all day long and the hours had slipped by, but I didn’t feel I had anything sturdy to hold onto by the end of the day, to show off to myself or others, and say, “See! I did something! I helped!” I felt like I was spinning but going nowhere.
It was the thought of the world ‘help’ on my walk that sparked the idea in me for a new way — a new set of markers I could measure my murky days by. I don’t have spreadsheets or sales goals or a certain number of phone calls — but I could make a new marker for myself.
This sounds cringe-worthy, and so overly earnest, but, well, that’s sort of my brand, and it’s true.
I decided my new marker by which to measure my day would be how many people I helped. And my minimum number was three.
Did a friend text needing advice? Helped. Did a Sunday Soother reader reach out with a question that I could answer? Helped. Did I make dinner for my boyfriend after he had a stressful day? Helped. Did I spend an afternoon volunteering instead of working? Helped. Did I connect two people who would really benefit for knowing one another? Helped. Did I help a client break out of a pattern they’d been struggling with? Helped.
Now, as a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, I realize I need to keep a close eye on if this desire to help crosses the line over into hoping for external validation or helping others at the cost of my own needs. But so far, it has just inspired me to act from a place of service and connection, and more importantly, perhaps, it has given me a steady railing on which to walk my days.
If I have helped three people, I can count another railing of my own scaffolding built. A scaffolding I am designing, and building, and tweaking on which to rest my life. A scaffolding that is all mine.
It’s with that in mind today, as I close this newsletter, I’m asking you for your help. Back in 2018 I did a reader survey and found it enormously valuable as to making this newsletter better for you. As we round up towards 2020, I’m asking you to take another reader survey. It’s super quick, under 10 questions, and if you complete the survey, you will be automatically entered into a raffle to win your prize of choice: a coaching package with me; a free tarot reading; or I will donate $50 to your organization of choice.
Why your input matters to me:
- I’ve made concrete changes to the format and content of the newsletter based off of reader recommendations (better imagery, more stories about me and what I’m doing in real life, practical applications of spiritual introspection, and more).
- It gives me tons of ideas of things to write about when my inspiration well is running a little dry.
- I’m going to start creating courses and e-books, and knowing what challenges you face in your day-to-day life that I could help give guidance on would be so useful.
- Honestly, I can be pretty dense. Sometimes I feel like I can’t see two feet in front of my own face. So having outside perspectives and ideas that may feel obvious to you — well, they won’t be obvious to me. Others’ ideas and observations have always provided me enormous inspiration and clarity.
So if you don’t mind, take the survey here. And know that you’re being a big help to me simply by sharing your quick opinions and ideas. Thank you.