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The REAL reason we’re addicted to being “busy”

Image credit: rawpixels.com

I talk a lot about time and energy management. I’m passionate about supporting people in getting their time and energy back because I don’t want anyone to be forced to slow down, or worse–shut down completely. I want people to actively CHOOSE a better way because I know what happens when it’s forced on you and it’s brutal. 

Years ago I was told I had a chronic, life-threatening illness that would cause me pain for the rest of my life AND take years of my life away from me. My personal world was in shambles, I was in an enormous amount of emotional and physical pain, and I was trying to parent 5 children. I DID NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS.

My body disagreed, and this diagnosis was the final straw that forced me to stop moving (literally and figuratively) and get radically honest with myself. It was time to get real and stop avoiding the painful truths I’d been avoiding for my entire life.

I used to pride myself on pushing through the hard stuff, never slowing down, always being busy. It’s a badge of honor in this culture, being busy and overwhelmed. It’s as if we’re measuring the value of our lives by the degree to which we’ve overcommitted ourselves.

So if being busy and overwhelmed is so miserable, why are so many of us committed to it? And why does our culture reward it?

The better question is this: What are we all AVOIDING? 

Chronic busyness is an excellent way to avoid what we don’t want to see, what we’re afraid to deal with. 

Slowing down and creating more time and space means there’s room for the hard stuff to come up. It means we have the time and energy to look at our careers, our marriages, and every other part of our lives and ask the question, do they measure up? Are we living lives full of meaning, or full of appointments? 

To be clear, I don’t have it all together and I certainly don’t have all the answers. I also completely understand that some of us have more obligations and commitments than others.

What I’m talking about is filling our lives up with appointments, meetings, classes, and (insert extra thing here) without asking ourselves if the time and energy cost is worth it. 

My commitment to myself is to continue to slow down, to let go of the kind of busyness that’s about avoiding, and to ask myself the hard questions. This is how I saved my own life so many years ago, and it informs how I coach my clients every single day.

If you need support in getting your time and energy back and creating the life you truly want to live, we’re here for you. 

♥️, 

Jen

What we can learn from hermit crabs

My 6-year old brought home library books from school last Thursday, like she does every Thursday. It’s always fascinating to see her choices–she’s super into science and the natural world, so there’s usually one related to that.

Last week one of her books was about sea creatures. And let me tell you, in case you don’t know–there are some really, really weird sea creatures out there. 

But the most familiar one to me was the hermit crab. Though I know some hermit crab facts, reading about them hit me in a different way this time. 

Hermit crabs are not actually hermits, they’re communal creatures.  In the wild, they’re found in groups of 100 or more.  And though they’re known for their shells, they don’t actually make their own–they forage for the homes they carry on their backs, and they’re known to be quite particular about which shell they choose.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

So when a hermit crab grows larger, the old shell it’s been living in starts to get uncomfortable. There’s not enough room for this version of the crab, and it starts to look around for the right new home–one that’s large enough with room to grow, but not so big that it doesn’t fit. The old shell is given up to the community, where it will fit a smaller crab that also needs a new home.

And so it goes, this process of growing bigger, getting uncomfortable, and shedding the old to make room for the newer, more evolved version. 

What if the crab got stuck? What if it was so afraid of leaving what was familiar that it stayed smaller, dealt with the pain of the known to avoid the risks of the unknown, the risks of expanding and demanding more space? 

That’s a very human thing to think, and luckily hermit crabs–though quite smart–just don’t think that way. So they live their crabby lives, doing the next right thing and taking up the space they need.

We humans, however, are notorious for getting in our own way.

Are there ways that you’ve grown larger, and the old life just doesn’t fit anymore? Are you feeling constricted, but you’re afraid of change? Is there room in your current “shell” for a more evolved, expansive you? And most importantly…will you let yourself look for and accept what you need?

Be the hermit crab, my friends.

♥️, 

Amy

One more inch of water…what’s it worth?

An inch is such a tiny measurement, isn’t it? 

I know you all understand what an inch looks like, but for the purposes of this blog, here’s a visual:  ___________

I was reading an article published by the National Ocean Service (NOS) about the impact of one inch of water for cargo ships.

A ship needs a certain amount of water to float and not touch bottom; the water depth is called the ship’s “draft.” The more cargo a ship carries, the more it will weigh, and the more it will sink and need more draft. 

Even a slight decrease in the depth of a waterway will require a ship to carry less cargo. And conversely, one more inch of water means larger ships with millions of dollars more cargo. It also means fewer total trips to carry all that cargo, which translates to less environmental impact and cheaper goods. 

The NOS states that one more inch of water depth in a port means that a cargo ship can carry 57 more tractors.

Let me say that again. ONE MORE INCH of water depth means a cargo ship can carry 57 MORE TRACTORS. 

Isn’t that wild?

When I think about that huge cargo ship carrying all those tractors, I imagine the water underneath–how the water cradles and holds the ship upright, how it cushions the impact of all that heaviness, and how even one more tiny inch makes such a huge impact in that ship’s ability to carry the load and do what needs to be done.

And then I consider how a healthy community functions. How each of us alone is one little inch of water, but together we can move even the heaviest load across an ocean. 

What we can achieve alone pales in comparison to what we can do together.

The Boundaries Expert Needs a Reset

I got the dreaded email this morning. You know the one I mean, right? The one where you hear all about how you dropped the ball, how you’ve let someone down, how disappointed and angry they are with you.

Ouch.

My first reaction was to get defensive, of course. Don’t they know how hard I work? And didn’t I tell them over and over again that I didn’t have the time they needed for this project, but they wouldn’t listen?  

Second reaction…our old friend SHAME. What’s wrong with me? How can I coach other people on time management (or anything) when I can’t even do it myself?

Any of this sound familiar?

Here’s what I know by now, after years of work with shame, resilience and boundaries: When I have that particular reaction of defensiveness that moves quickly into shame, something is up with my boundaries and I need to pay attention.

So I’m going to walk you through my process with this situation using my FOUR PILLARS OF BOUNDARIES:

1) Self-Worth: Do I feel worth it? Do I respect myself? 

When I checked in on this one, it was a resounding yes, absolutely. My self-worth is high enough and I respect myself enough to exit this situation that is so clearly not good for me or the other person involved. 

2) Self-Knowledge: What do I want?  What do I NOT want?

I know I want to let go of this project and transition it to someone else. I do NOT want to take on projects based on guilt or ego. I only want to work with projects and people that align with my values and that I get excited about.

3) Self-Responsibility: What is mine to own?

I knew this wasn’t a good idea, I even named it to the person, and yet I agreed to it anyway. Having named that explicitly does NOT give me a free pass. It was up to me to allow the other person to feel hurt and disappointed on the front end (by me saying no), rather than have it come up repeatedly on the backend (FAR more painful for all involved).

4) Communication: Verbalize and take action

Having gone through the first three steps, I was ready to respond. 

What if I had skipped the first three steps and gone straight into response?  I might have stayed defensive and responded in a way I wasn’t proud of. Or I might have gone into conflict avoidance mode. Going through those first three steps allowed me the space to process what I was experiencing and slow down before responding. 

And here’s how I responded: I acknowledged their anger and disappointment, I apologized for my part, and I let them know what ways I was willing to move forward in our arrangement (either immediate termination of the arrangement, or short term work focused on transition).

Much like in the past, they stated they only wanted to continue working with me–but because I worked through those four pillars, I was prepared to hold my boundary.

I tell this to clients just about every day, and here’s a prime example of it: you will spend so much MORE time and energy avoiding setting boundaries and FAR LESS if you just go ahead and do it.

And I got the message, loud and clear–it’s time for me to not only deal with this particular situation (and I’m so glad I did!), but also take a step back and look at my boundaries in general. 

It’s imperative that we do this periodically; let’s call it a boundaries audit. Where in your life are the boundaries too loose? Too rigid? If there are problem areas, is it worth it to you to address them directly? Or would you rather work towards letting it go? (The third option that is NOT an option is resentment and complaining).

Won’t you join me?

♥️, 

Amy  

What stories are you telling yourself about leverage?

Recently in Level Up Mastermind, we talked about leverage. I’m always curious about the stories people have about leverage, so that’s where I often begin in a group. I want to know what they’ve told themselves, what they’ve unconsciously internalized from other people. 

I’ll define leverage the way we talk about it in Next Level Wealth–leverage is simply using tools and resources to maximize time, efficiency and energy. It’s a way to let go of the things that don’t bring us joy, don’t make us money, and someone (or something) else could do for us.

A story I often share about leverage is around bake sales. I have a–let’s be honest–hate/hate relationship with them. I don’t bake–and as my partner Brent will tell you, I rarely even cook. He loves it, I don’t. So same with baking–I do NOT love it, nor am I particularly good at it, so I outsource it to someone else. And let me tell you, I have MANY children, so I’ve done a lot of bake sale leverage.

We can leverage just about anything. What tends to stand in our way (isn’t this so often true?) is ourselves. So why are we so resistant to the idea of leverage?

Let’s take a look at some common stories people tell themselves:

  • It’ll take more time to train someone (or learn the new system) than it’s worth when I can just do it myself and save that time.
  • No one is going to do it as well as I will and the way I want it done.
  • Leverage is expensive, and I don’t have extra money for that in my life/business yet.
  • It’s silly to pay someone to do something that I can do myself.

Any of these sound familiar?

I could address each one of these stories in detail (and I often do with my 1:1 clients), and yet the most important thing I want you to take away from this newsletter is about the stories you tell yourself and your ATTACHMENT to them. 

All of those stories you’re reading above? They’re just that…stories. They’re not facts. The rigidity of those stories takes away your freedom to do something different, to see things in a new light. 

I’ve known many people (my past self included) who had very little money and utilized leverage in amazing ways in their lives. I’ve witnessed people taking back their time and energy and choosing more mindfully where they want to invest this precious resource. I’ve worked with people who finally accept that they don’t have to do everything just because they CAN–that it’s valid and a serious commitment to self-care to let go of what’s least important to them through leverage. 

A refusal to embrace leverage is an invitation to burnout. 

I encourage you to look at your own stories about leverage. What would it be like to challenge those? Are you willing to open your mind and let in the possibility that life doesn’t have to be this hard?

Happy leveraging ♥️, 

Jen 

What’s the difference between letting go and avoidance?

It’s Sunday night, and my wife and I are laughing SO HARD at ourselves. We had the sudden realization that we completely missed the boat on a school thing–I’m not sure which one of us realized it first, but here we are on a Sunday night doing some parenting clean up.

The short story is that we both work full-time and we’re just not that on top of some of the school stuff. We’re not the parents who are able to volunteer to be library assistants every Thursday at 12:15 or go on every field trip or chair the annual bake sale.
(Edit: The wife did chaperone one field trip this year, and then came home and slept for approximately three days. She loved it, obvs.)

Frankly, we’re the parents who miss their required volunteer hours and donate money instead (hello, leverage!).

We love, love, love our daughter. We also love our work. And we can’t do it all, and do it all well. Most of the time that’s perfectly fine with us. That’s the letting go part.

And here’s the avoidance part…

We’ve both been getting emails about this school thing for weeks. I saw the words “tree trot” and immediately sorted those emails into the junk folder of my mind, right along with anything resembling “5K” or “marathon” or “run.”

I also assume that anything discussing “trotting” or “running” or “5K” in any manner is completely voluntary, because RUNNING.

Since my wife and I avoided reading those emails, what we did not realize is that this tree trot is a ✨THING✨ at Z’s school. Like a big deal kind of thing, that’s all about raising money for the school. Apparently there’s trotting, yes, amongst the trees–AND parents show up to cheer them on and the families raise money for the school.

Oops.

It’s fine, we’re on it now, so what if we missed avoided the memo and it’s three weeks later. WE SHOWED UP.

Which brings me to…what’s the difference between letting go and avoidance?

To let it go, you have to look it in the face, my friends. What I’ve looked at head on and chosen to let go of in my life has to number in the hundreds if not thousands. And sometimes (many times?) I have to do it over, and over, and over again.

I’m looking at YOU, perfectionism. You too, comparison. And I see you over there, “right way”–GET IN LINE because you are next on my list. 

We can’t do a damn thing about what we refuse to see.  It’s not letting go if you won’t look it in the face–it’s avoidance.

So how about you…what are YOU avoiding and telling yourself that you’re just “letting it go”? What life emails are going straight to the junk mail before you even open them?

We love hearing from you, so if this resonates with you–let us know!

What Winning the Lottery Teaches Us About Money

How many times have you joked about winning the lottery? The ultimate fantasy…being handed piles of money for no reason other than a $3 ticket and a random number. Suddenly life is good, and you never have to worry about money again–talk about living the dream!

You know there’s a catch, right? Ever heard of the so-called “lottery curse”? 

Many people who win the lottery end up squandering all that money, they get depressed, their marriages end–and some winners meet a tragic end.

There are countless stories of people wishing they had never won. (Seriously.)

The National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that around 70% of people who receive a large cash windfall will lose it within a few years.

WHAT IN THE WORLD?  So money…DOESN’T buy happiness after all?

It’s complicated. Sudden windfalls of that kind of money is a fantasy that the vast majority of people will never experience. If you DO experience it–and you’ve never had money before–your entire life changes in one second. As amazing as that is, it’s also something you couldn’t possibly prepare for. And while money solves some problems, it can also CREATE other problems.

Money buys freedom, which is an essential part of happiness–but it doesn’t buy a whole lot of other things that we tend to value in our lives. Money won’t buy love, it won’t buy a sense of purpose. 

Many lottery winners tend to spend big and lavishly, quit their jobs, and buy expensive homes. They start looking around at all the parts of their lives and wonder–do they measure up? Maybe the loyal spouse you’ve been with for 30 years isn’t looking so good anymore, now that you have money and you’re suddenly more “attractive.” Family members come out of the woodwork, wanting more and more from you. 

This is the most extreme example we can think of when it comes to the psychology of money– and what happens when someone has not done the emotional work to have a healthy relationship with their finances. 

We have to see money as a TOOL rather than a SOLUTION. A huge windfall, turns out, doesn’t solve all your problems, and it can even create some brand new ones. 

Your money mindset is running the show, not the money itself. When you have a healthy mindset around money, it becomes the tool you need it to be. You can stop placing these broad, unrealistic expectations on money and instead use it to create and live the life you truly want to live.

We’d like to believe we’d handle a large windfall better than most (and please, Universe, give us a chance to try!). In the meantime, we’ll be over here building wealth the old fashioned way 😂

What happens when you give a poor kid a credit card?

I was 18 years old when I got my first credit card. A company set up tables on our college campus and gave away free t-shirts to anyone who applied for a card. I’ve always loved a free…well, anything…so of course I applied. Within a week, a shiny new card arrived in my mailbox with a $500 limit. 

Of course, I didn’t register a “limit”…all I saw was FREE MONEY.

I was a poor kid from middle of nowhere Alabama, and at that point in my life $500 might as well have been $100,000. 

It was a fluke that I even ended up going to college–no one in my family did. I can’t remember what I thought I would do after graduating high school (maybe continue waitressing at JR’s Wings and Things?), but what I CAN tell you is that I went into utter shock when I got a letter in the mail offering me a full scholarship to my university.

My test scores apparently put me in a range where some schools were offering me money to come there before I even applied. Which was a good thing–because I didn’t know the first thing about applying to college!

And this, my friends, is how I accidentally ended up going to college AND how I ended up in major credit card debt before I hit the age of 21.

No one in my family talked about money, unless it was about not having any. My brother and I used to joke that our family motto is “Expect the worst, and don’t you dare hope for the best.”

The first part of my childhood was spent in a single wide trailer, then later in a small home on a piece of my grandparent’s land. We struggled, to say the least. 

I had no clue–ZERO idea–how to handle money, and this landed me in a world of trouble several times before I finally taught myself to manage money in responsible ways.

I not only completed that four-year degree, I went on to receive a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Once I moved away from Alabama and began working in the professional world, I dug myself out of the hole I was in through sheer will and a determination to learn as much as I possibly could about debt, savings and investing. I read every personal finance book I could get my hands on. 

And still, STILL, I made major mistakes. I was in a cycle of accruing debt, paying it off, and doing it all over again.

I could have read every personal finance book in the world, but until I dealt with my emotional spending, the psychology of money and the beliefs that were handed down to me from my own family of origin–I was doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m PASSIONATE about money, for one reason and one reason only–MONEY BUYS FREEDOM.

Money is just a tool–and like any tool, it can be used to build something sturdy and secure, or it can be used to destroy.

Having money–for me–isn’t about accumulating stuff, or taking big fancy trips. It’s about the freedom of CHOICE, the ability to make the most important decisions in my life based on my own best interests rather than fear and scarcity. And it’s about having the ability to be generous with others, taking care of my community. 

I’ve spent much of my adult life yo-yoing between extreme deprivation and reckless spending. I am so incredibly thankful that I did the work I did to find more balance in my financial life, to make money a useful tool that works FOR me and not AGAINST me.

If I can support you in creating a healthier relationship with money, it’s my favorite thing to so…so please reach out!

–Amy

Are you a Seeker or a Finder?

Here’s a subject that’s come up a lot for me and Jen lately in our deep-dive inner world conversations  business meetings. What does it mean to be a seeker?

For those of you who listen to Glennon Doyle’s podcast, she talks about being a seeker–and that the nature of a seeker is to always be seeking, but not really finding.  In fact, there’s danger in a seeker “finding” something, because the attachment to that spiritual paradigm, or personality type, or whatever it is can become too extreme and then block the seeker’s own inner knowing.

If you’ve ever wondered how people become enmeshed in high-control groups (“cults”), it starts with being a seeker. (I confess that “cults” are my current hyper-fixation/obsession)

Every wonderful quality has a shadow side. Seekers are curious, open, see beauty and wonder in the world, and teach those of us who are NOT seekers about the magic of being a human being in this wild world.

The shadow side can look a couple of different ways. Seekers can seem fickle, not grounded in reality, and flaky. 

Seekers can also be more susceptible to a phenomenon I like to call, in all caps, THE WAY. They can so desperately want to make sense of the world within and around them that they can give too much of their inner knowing and authority away to some force outside of them, and then it becomes not “a way” but THE WAY.

Finders look for what is already there. They often say things like “the research says…” or ask questions like “what’s the evidence for that?” They’re more logical, more reality-based. They find INFORMATION, check the source, and that’s that. They are our truth-sayers, our grounding rods, the steady hands that guide us. 

And the shadow side? Certainty and rigidity…which then blocks curiosity, personal growth and magical mystery.

Isn’t that interesting? The shadow side for seekers AND finders can involve certainty, knowing THE WAY.

Most of us are going to lean one way or the other on the Seeker/Finder spectrum. But here’s the really cool thing–we can consciously grow that more underdeveloped part! We can practice tapping into the part that is less accessible, and over time it becomes MORE accessible and available to us.

And bringing this back around to your business (I do eventually get there 😉)…

Your business needs the seeker AND the finder. The balance is essential for the gifts that each of these types bring to the table. 

We need the grounding and the dreaming, the security and the risk, the logic and the magic. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a business partner or a team that brings all of these qualities into your business (this is probably the most amazing thing we discovered during our NLW planning retreat).

Or maybe you’re a solopreneur, and you can do more work within yourself to access both your inner seeker and your finder.

Either way, recognizing the value in both of these types and bringing their best qualities into your business could be the missing piece when it comes to growing your business.

Which type do YOU lean towards?

♥️, 
Amy (85% Finder, 15% Seeker)
Next Level Wealth Coaching 

Why “follow your passion” is a set up for disappointment

Okay, stay with us…

To imply that you can just “follow your passion” is a bit misleading. It’s not like it’s the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and if you just follow the trail you’ll magically find it.

Instead, let’s talk about it this way–we need to find ways to cultivate our passions. To cultivate means to develop, to prepare for. 

So cultivating our passions is an active process, one that doesn’t ever stop. If you found what you were passionate about and felt like you were done–well, that would imply that Amy is still obsessed with Barbie, and believe us, this is not the case 😂

If we see finding our passions as being a process, then we remain open and curious to whatever we discover, and we leave room to evolve and change over time.

And because we like tangible steps here at Next Level Wealth, here’s a process you can use to cultivate YOUR passions 💫

  1. Take care of your basic needs.
    You won’t have room to explore what you’re passionate about unless your basic needs are met. Nutrition, water, sleep, movement, safe and loving connections…those basic physical and mental health needs that are the essential foundation for reaching those higher level desires. Your car won’t drive unless it has gas (unless it’s electric, but you know what we mean). So fill up that tank!

  2. Create space.
    Where’s that white space on your calendar, hmmm? If your entire day, every day, is filled with “to do’s”…how can you even figure out what you want to move towards, what lights you up? Passion requires SPACE, and it wants us to be creative and playful. Whether all you can manage is an hour or two at a time, or a solo weekend away, you need space to access passion.

  3. Be curious.
    You never know what might light you up and inspire you. What would happen if you let go of your assumptions, of the stories you’ve always told yourself? We are all (yes, ALL) creative beings. Practice curiosity, explore new activities and ways of being, let go and HAVE FUN, with no other agenda! You’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself and what you love.

Do you know what your passions are, in life and in business? 


♥️, 

Jen and Amy (PASSIONATE Business Coaches)