Slow the eff down

Sound familiar? A lot of us feel like we’re moving at a hundred miles a minute but not accomplishing nearly enough. That’s why Claire is here to tell us how sprinting from one task to the next is killing your productivity and making you feel like crap. (Luckily, there’s a solution.) Listen up!

slow the eff down

As I type this, I am trying to move at 100 miles a minute, in about 20 different directions.

This is not a joke. Since beginning this post, I have:

  • Eaten an after-dinner snack (okay, several after-dinner snacks)
  • Done laundry
  • Answered emails
  • Made tea
  • Scrolled through Instagram roughly 47 times

Honestly, though? None of these tasks were done well, and just as importantly, none of them have made me feel the way I want to feel.

For all of the time I’ve spent trying to keep myself busy, clean and satiated this evening, I’ve accomplished embarrassingly little.

How many of your days look exactly like this?

If you, like me, spend your precious time struggling to complete what really counts toward accomplishing your Big Life Goals, it may be time to:

Slow down. Take a breath. Look more closely at whose agenda you’re following.

When I say “whose agenda,” here, I’m not implying that you’re taking orders from another person; what I actually mean is that you’re allowing a noisy little voice in your head to run the show.

Because believe it or not, we’re all catering to two agendas: our own, and our egos’.

Our own agendas are full of inspiring, life-changing plans, like:

  • Create a work of art that truly moves someone
  • Treat my body with the love and respect it deserves, so that it looks and feels awesome
  • Build a career that’s challenging, fulfilling and makes a difference in the world

Our egos’ agendas are full of self-centered, instant-gratification plans, like:

  • Binge-watch Orange Is the New Black
  • Get some Very Important Email Answering done
  • Take a nap

Neither of these agendas are inherently good or bad; they both simply revolve around a core of desired feelings. The major difference, however, is that our agendas are rooted in bravery and the embracing of challenge, while our egos’ agendas are rooted in comfort and the avoidance of pain.

Creating a work of art—or, in this case, a blog post worth reading—will ultimately bring me satisfaction, pride, and the joy of collaboration with a writer I deeply admire (hi, Cassie!). First, however, it has brought feelings of fear that what I write will be crap, and frustration at the fact that the words aren’t materializing as easily as I’d like.

Only by slowing the fuck down, feeling those scary emotions and moving through them do I have any chance of accomplishing my goal tonight.

Instead, however, I’ve chosen to run from them for the past three hours. And my ego has happily stepped in to help me.

This irritating little ego still wanted to feel proud and productive, but it didn’t want to deal with the tough stuff. So it picked easier options. How about the laundry? it said. Oh, and look, you have new Facebook notifications. Those are probably important. You should check them off the list!

And so I did. And now I have clean underwear and know that three people “liked” a photo I posted yesterday.

But have I really accomplished anything? Have I connected with anyone? Did it matter?

Um, resounding NOPE up in here.

To experience the deep fulfillment and feelings of helpfulness that spring from creating something worthwhile, I’ve first had to:

  • Admit to myself that yes, I’m scared, and yes, I’m frustrated.
  • Actually FEEL those feelings for a minute. Hang around with them. Let them wear themselves out.
  • Put my fingers on the keyboard and do the damn work.

By sloooooowing doooooown and accepting those emotions you’re so used to running from—those flutterings of dread before a workout, the overwhelm of launching a new product, the nervousness that no one will connect with your art—you’ll actually be able to get more done, and you’ll be better at what you’re doing.

Keep trying to numb those feelings, and your ego will gleefully help you overeat, put that new product on hold indefinitely, send lots of tweets, texts and snapchats, then settle in for a nap.

And you. will. be. stuck.

The next time you’re feeling busybusybusy but aren’t actually getting anything done, stop for a second. Put down the phone/laptop/cookie.

Ask yourself: How do I feel right now? And how do I want to feel?

If “how do I feel?” results in a negative answer—afraid, frustrated, hurt, angry—don’t rush to block it out. Let it wash over you. Try to live inside it for a second; what does it feel like, physically? Is your stomach clenched? Are your knuckles white? Do you need a few seconds to punch your pillow, or to cry it out? Do what it takes to get comfortable with that emotion—once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move through it in peace.

Once that’s finished, you can focus on the good stuff: if you want to feel accomplished, you’re smart enough to know that a nap won’t provide that result. If you want to feel healthy and vibrant, the package of Oreos does not hold the answer.

You know what needs to happen to move closer to your dream life. Rushing from one activity to the next in an effort to avoid discomfort is not it. 

I’d love to know, though—what is?

What plans from your agenda are you going to tackle today, and what plans from your ego’s are you going to happily kiss goodbye?

 

 

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop wants to live in a world where her friends pursue their bucket list dreams with reckless abandon, where they give their all to doing what they love, and where their health and well-being aren’t compromised in the process. As the health coach behind Eat Well. Party Hard., she’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive, and fuels her own crazy life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. Her ebook, Killer Confidence: Anywhere + At Any Weight is available (for free!) right here.

The “Lucky” Ones – An interview with circus performer & entrepreneur Sarah Morgan

I’ve been following today’s interviewee’s blog for a couple of years now and have always loved her style & insight. Now, I’m happy to introduce to you Sarah Morgan!

xosarah-headshot

Two years ago, Sarah Morgan quit her job and ran off with the circus. Literally. And as a web designer, business consultant, entrepreneur, blogger, aerial instructor and, yes, circus performer, she’s spent the past couple of years encouraging and teaching others how to follow their own passions as boldly as she has—while wearing many hats.

Sarah’s blog, xoSarah, is a showcase of both her aerial artistry and web design prowess, and through it, Sarah has established herself as an authority on solid web design and blogging how-to. She just recently published her second ebook, How to Double Your Blog Traffic in 90 Days (or Less!) and launched the Badass Babes Blog Club + E-Course for bloggers who want to amp up their own online spaces. When she’s not dominating the interwebs, she’s swinging from aerial silks as part of The Weird Sisters trio.

Welcome, Sarah!

Your talents are so varied! But let’s start with joining the circus. How did you get into aerial arts, and when did you decide to make it a profession along with your fellow Weird Sisters?

I randomly signed up for an aerial class just over four years ago as something fun to do and trained for about two years before we began to perform. Over the next year we ended up booking a lot of shows and at the same time my design business had grown enough that I was able to make those my full-time occupations. Soon after I added teaching aerial to the list as well.

How do you discipline your body to stay fit for such a physically demanding job? Do you have a regular routine you abide by?

I teach six to eight classes a week, so just going to work keeps me in shape for aerial. Since I’m in the air so often it’s more about injury prevention than building strength or flexibility. My routine is what we cover in class: cardio, abs, climbing, skill-building, stretching.

Describe the most interesting/random/weird event you’ve ever performed in.

We perform at a giant Halloween show every year called Theatre Bizarre. It’s not weird at all to me, but the random person off the street might be totally shocked by what they find inside. Contortion, burlesque, suspension, fire spinning/eating, strange sideshow acts—there’s really no way to describe it, it’s something you have to experience. This past year we performed as super sexy bearded ladies and fit right in. Here’s a video.

Sarah Morgan

On top of all that you also have your own successful web design business. How do you juggle these two very different jobs?

Calendars! I make sure to schedule everything and have five calendars to keep track of each aspect of my life. (That sounds nuts now that I’ve written it down, haha.) I don’t adhere to a super strict schedule for design work, which keeps me from feeling overwhelmed, but I know what needs to get done and when.

What are some of the biggest challenges that come with your professions? Do you ever experience self-doubt?

Personally, because I have two full-time jobs, it’s making sure I schedule my life in a way that I have time to take care of myself. Today I had rehearsal for three hours, then I came home and worked, and then I go back to the studio to teach and rehearse for two hours tonight. I have enough work to put me in the air or in front of my computer 16 hours a day every single day, so I’ve gotten really good at saying no and taking on only what I can handle.

I generally don’t feel self-doubt, which makes me sound like an over-confident jerk I’m sure. I suppose that if I’m going to do something I’m just going to do it, and worrying if I’m not good enough or going to fail isn’t helpful. I’m aware of both possibilities, but I deal with it after the fact instead of letting it slow me down or stop me from what I want to accomplish.

What was it like making the leap to total self-employment? Are you happier on this new path?

I had gotten to the point of being so unhappy at my corporate job I was essentially a real-life version of the movie Office Space. When I decided I was going to leave about 9 months before my escape, I became super motivated and excited to work on my side hustle. I prepared enough in advance that when my last day at work arrived I didn’t have any worries. It felt extremely freeing and I’m so so much happier working for myself.

Sarah Morgan

If you could live by one mantra, what would it be?

“Whether you think you can or think you cant, you’re right” – Henry Ford (there’s that no self-doubt thing again!)

What are some of your favorite books? Favorite blogs?

I really loved Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. It’s about marketing your business by sharing why you do what you do instead of what you do. AKA “I’m passionate about helping creative businesses build online homes that allow them to share what they love” vs. “I’m a web designer who makes beautiful and functional websites.” It really changed the way I market my business and my blog.

For bloggers I’m always inspired by Alexandra FranzenMarie ForleoThe Middle Finger Project and Betty Means Businesslots of badass ladies talking about building powerful online empires.

 

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your story! Have any question for Sarah, or just love what she has to say? Let her know in the comments!

The secret to job hunting: It isn’t about you

Job hunting sucks.

The problem is, we sometimes are so desperate for a job that we focus too much on ourselves in the process of searching for employment that our desperation shows through as we try so hard to fit into the mold we think the employer wants—and they see right through it. But guest blogger Erika of All Things E cuts through the painful stuff in her guest post today to tell job seekers everything they want to know about the hiring process… from the employer’s side.

job hunt

Applying for jobs is stressful.

You agonize over tiny details, ride the roller coaster of hope and rejection, find yourself legitimately concerned that your voice “sounds weird” on the phone and overall, turn into a ball of nerves.

Am I good enough? Am I what they’re looking for? Is this job actually as great as it seems on paper?

(Answers: Yes, maybe and probably not… if you were wondering.)

The humbling, tiresome circus of applying for jobs after graduation or as a working professional is something that we all experience, usually several times in our adult life. After settling in and finding a job that I actually like (though, I have to say: I had a job from hell beforehand—it was character-building), I recently found myself in an entirely new position in the hiring process: as the one doing the actual hiring.

Weird.

I’ll say this first: being on this side of the equation was not at all what I expected. Companies hire when the amount of work is greater than the amount of manpower. Because I work for a small company, the extra work plus the work of finding a suitable candidate to join our team meant late nights and very busy days.

And a LOT of pressure to find someone that would be able to step in, learn fast and contribute right away.

Luckily, we found that person. It took about 3 months, but it’s in the past and I’m on my way to figuring out how to manage (also, very weird).

I learned a LOT about the hiring process from the other side of the table and the experience made me reflect on how I’ll go about applying and interviewing for jobs in the future, so I’m excited to be sharing my insights with you to hopefully make the job-hunting process a bit less scary and anxiety-ridden.

First, the biggest takeaway from the experience:

It isn’t about you.

From the company’s perspective, you are one piece in a pretty big puzzle. I don’t say that to belittle you or make you feel small about what you’re getting into. I say it to help ease your nerves.

Because the truth is: you, as the applicant, control only a very small portion of the outcome.

So breathe easier, embrace patience and by God, take it WAY less personally when you don’t get the job, even if it’s your “dream job.”

If it were your dream job, you would have landed it. Because you would have been the perfect fit. You see, the trouble is, it’s difficult to deduce whether you’re “the perfect fit” for any job from a one-page description.

Personality traits, foundational skills (i.e. writing, talking to people, coming up with ideas) and cultural elements are all really important dimensions of a candidate that just don’t come through in a job description.

So my biggest piece of advice? EMBRACE the fact that it isn’t ALL about you. 

Once you embrace this idea (and the idea that the outcome of the interview process isn’t a reflection of your worthiness as a human being in the slightest bit), you’ll be ready and able to actually showcase yourself and your talents in a way that a potential employer won’t be able to stop thinking about you.

Beyond that MAJOR piece of insight (seriously, take it to heart), there are a few pieces of advice that I know I’ll be keeping in my back pocket for when I go back to the other side of the table:

  • BE THOROUGH. Small details matter. Spelling, grammar, layout and presentation of your resume and cover letter DO make a difference—it’s easier for the hiring manager to weed out the people who were too careless to run spell check or make sure that their cover letter made sense. Also, things like thank you notes and proper email etiquette go a long way. Present yourself with polish.
  • BE HONEST. I was flabbergasted by the number of people that straight-up lied to us about the very things that we spent ALL DAY doing for work. It was actually kind of offensive. If you don’t know something, say so. If you lie about knowing how to do something, your employer is going to expect that when you start, you know how to do it. Don’t set yourself up to fail from the get-go.
  • BE PREPARED. Know something about the company and come prepared with questions to ask the interviewers. It shows that you’re curious and know how to use Google, which are two very important skills. Make a list of questions if you think you’ll forget it when you’re in the moment and please, make sure this one is on your list: “What would a normal day be like for me in this position?”
  • Finally, BE YOURSELF. Nail down the “tell me about yourself” and “what do you like to do outside of work?” questions with interesting, complete answers. Practice delivering them—it’ll give you confidence. Talk with passion about something —anything—and you’ll stand out. Personality goes a long, long way. Many people shy away from their personality in interviews because they want to show how professional they can be. Don’t. Interviews are impossibly boring and when you interview a lot of people, they all run together in your mind. The people who had a great personality stood out a LOT.

 

Obviously, every job is going to be a bit different, as is every job interviewer.

One thing I really believe to be true after this experience is that one of the most critical times to be your true self is when you’re in the process of finding the job that you’ll spend a HUGE chunk of your waking hours doing.

So if you walk out of an interview feeling like you represented yourself in an honest, engaging way and you don’t get the job?

It wasn’t the job for you.

And it wasn’t about YOU.

So tell me: what’s the best piece of job interview advice you’ve ever received?

Erika SevignyErika Sevigny is a 24-year-old single gal living, loving and learning in St. Louis, Missouri. She writes about friendship, books, self awareness and daily life on her blog All Things E and wholeheartedly believes in long hugs, cold coffee and handwritten letters. Say hello on Twitter @ErikaSevigny or at erika [at] allthingseblog.com.