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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 😂

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 

Are you struggling to feel inspired?

You used to feel it with your business–that fire, the passion and excitement, the motivation to achieve goals that once felt impossible. You were so pumped up about what you did that you talked to anyone who would listen, not to SELL to them but because you believed in it so deeply. And people were drawn to you like a magnet. 

Now you’re tired, bored and uninspired. You go through the motions, but your heart’s not in it. There are few, if any, deals on the table. You wonder, what’s the point? Maybe you’re in the wrong business. 

Does any of this sound familiar?

Before you get to the point where you throw it all away, let’s talk about burnout.

Burnout is caused by PROLONGED STRESS with LACK OF SELF CARE. 

And we’ve been there. It’s a terrible feeling and it distorts your view of everything. Many amazing profitable businesses have shut their doors due to burnout.

It’s important to catch what’s going on early enough to do something about it. Look for these signs if you’re wondering about burnout:
Unexplainable health issues
Sleep issues
Appetite and weight changes
Extreme exhaustion
Depression symptoms (irritability, apathy, difficulty concentrating, etc)
Feeling stuck and hopeless

Here’s the thing–you won’t get clarity about your business in a place of burnout. The burnout HAS to be addressed first. 

If you’re struggling with burnout, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are there ways to reduce the stressors?
    Often we’re doing more than we need to with tasks that either aren’t that important or that someone else could be doing. Focus your energy on the tasks that produce the highest return on your investment of time and energy, and let go of the rest. 

  2. Can you have healthier boundaries? Do you allow yourself to say “no” even if it makes you uncomfortable and disappoints someone?
    A lack of healthy boundaries is a recipe for burnout. Have you ever seen a lifeguard head out into the ocean to rescue a drowning person? You know what they always, ALWAYS bring? A good flotation device. It doesn’t do any good to attempt to save someone else’s if you’re not well resourced yourself.

  3. Are you spending time doing things you love and are passionate about? Are you prioritizing yourself? Have you told yourself a story about how “I don’t have time,” “I’m too busy,” “Everything will fall apart if I take time off?”
    Hard truth: if your business is set up in such a way that you can’t take time for yourself, then your business needs to fail–or it needs to get a DRAMATIC makeover. A key factor in making a business sustainable over the long term is a culture where self care is encouraged and prioritized.

  4. What support do you need that you don’t currently have in place?
    Examples of support could be therapy, coaching, mentorship, a consultant, hiring the right people (which might mean letting go of others), time off…to name a few!
    And ASK FOR HELP if you need it. Put your ego aside and reach out.

Let’s get you back to a place of passion, creativity and inspiration! If you address the burnout and you still aren’t satisfied with your business, then okay–maybe it’s time to let it go. Nine times out of ten, that won’t be the case. 

The vast majority of the time, you can fall back in love with your business! And if we can support you in getting there, let us know ✨

♥️, 
Jen and Amy

What’s love got to do with it?

Photo: Canva

Before there was Tina Turner, there was Anna Mae Bullock, a girl born to share-cropper parents in 1939. Her parents abandoned her and her sister at a young age, leaving them with their strict conservative grandmother.

Tina has shared many times that she never felt loved by her parents. It was with this difficult childhood history that she met and fell in love with Ike Turner, a talented and charismatic musician. She married him at the age of 22 and for years endured horrific physical, emotional and financial abuse. Their success in the music world belied the terror behind closed doors. 

When Tina finally left Ike, she did so with just 36 cents to her name. She worked any job she could find and lived in poverty, forced to start her music career all over again.

Tina performed whenever and wherever she could. Music was her passion, the one thing she loved that ever loved her back, the one thing that gave as much as it took. Though she struggled to get anyone to take her seriously without Ike by her side, she never gave up. 

And finally, in 1983, she signed with Capitol Records. 

Tina catapulted to a kind of fame she never had with Ike, had never dreamed of having before.  All those years of never giving up and following her passion had paid off.

Photo credit: Rob Verhorst

In 1985 Tina found real love with a man named Erwin Bach. They’ve been together for over three decades now. It seems no coincidence that finding love with a partner coincided with loving herself enough to save her own life.

Tina is quoted as saying “My legacy is that I stayed on course…from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”   

How beautiful is that?  She didn’t say “my legacy is my music” or “my legacy is my talent.” Her legacy is that she never deviated from what she loved the most, and she was able to do that because she believed in herself against all odds.

People could control her, abuse her, abandon her and manipulate her–but she would not allow them to destroy her belief in herself and her drive to pursue her passion.

This is what ultimately got her out of that horrific marriage and allowed her to become the woman and artist she knew she could be.

Passion is defined as ‘powerful and compelling emotion.’ It’s the kind of strong and sustained feeling that just can’t be ignored.

Passion doesn’t necessarily correlate with money, or fame, or a career. It can involve those things, sure…yet it often doesn’t.

You might be most passionate about raising your children, or volunteering with animals. Maybe you live for horse riding, and your day job–though enjoyable–is more about funding that passion than anything else.

Passion may not directly make you money (or maybe it does)–but what passion DOES give to us is inspiration, meaning and motivation. In that way, passion feeds all the parts of our lives, including our businesses. Passion makes the hard parts more tolerable and the good parts more joyful.

Take a minute and consider what you’re most passionate about. What lights you up? What brings you the most joy and satisfaction in your life? What is the one thing you would continue to do against any odds? 

If you’re here on this earth, with a capacity to think and feel and act, then you’re passionate about something.  Perhaps you’re struggling to know what it is, or how to put it into words.  But trust us, it’s there 🙂