For much of my life I've been an over-worker. Always finding new ways to stay busy, not saying no, not going home throughout the day. I'd fill my days from morning until night and throw sleep to the wind. Who needs rest? I can sleep when I die!
This habit has never quite felt healthy for me, yet I'd dug a rut for my life and I didn't know how to get out of it. I thought being in a traditional high school was my problem so I switched schools. But, I found myself staying busy with other activities and still being overrun with tasks and things to do.
For a while I thought it was because I was self-employed so I took a job at a café. I ended up working full-time at the café getting promoted to manager, writing a training manual and still working full-time photography hours.
After that I thought it might be because I needed a more solid 9-5 work week and steady paycheck. So, I took a salaried position at a wonderful company in town and I put everything into my work during work hours and I did my best to leave it there. I found ways to get involved elsewhere and I took on photography work and social media consulting on the side.
It wasn't until I started my second business with a friend of mine that I realized it was me that needed to change. Not my circumstances. I needed to figure out what I was trying to fill inside of myself by filling my time. What was I afraid of?
Once when I was around 7 years old or so, my family had all left the house. Being home alone I thought it would be nice to fold the laundry for my mom and my stepdad. I tenderly folded and piled it all according to who it belonged to and I was proud of myself. In the spirit of being proud of what I'd accomplished I wanted my mom to come home and see all of it out in the living room so that she could see the vast nature of my accomplishment (it was a lot of laundry, y'all). So, I left it in the piles in the living room and I waited. When I heard the car pull up, my nerves started to tingle with excitement knowing that they would be so proud of me.
When my stepdad walked into the house, his face turned cold. "What the hell is this? How lazy are you that you can't even put the clothes away?"
I tried to explain but the yelling was already too much, maybe I was lazy. This wasn't the first time he'd called me lazy and it wouldn't be the last and even though he wasn't in my life anymore, I spent the next 22 years trying to prove him wrong.
I tell you this story to tell you that I had to heal her. I had to heal that little girl and the guilt she carried around with her. I had to immerse myself with teachings that reinforced having spaciousness in your life. I had to have friends and loved ones and trusted coaches remind me that I bring more to the table than what I can produce.
I had to re-train my mind to think that rest is a good thing. That spaciousness allows me room to thrive. That I'm happier and more inspired when I have downtime and spontaneity in my life.
I had to change my mind first before I could change my life.
I'm now in the process of shortening my work weeks, I'm working from home today in my pajamas because I don't feel top notch. I take full days off just to brainstorm! And, the fun part is, I'm not even producing less work. I'm just producing work that inspires me more.
If there's an area in your own life that is just not serving you but, you can't seem to figure out how to make the change, I encourage you to look at your mind first and change your circumstances later.
Changing your circumstances is only changing the symptom of the problem. Changing your mind, that's where you tackle the problem head on!
Sarajane Case is a dreamer, a doer, a lover, a writer, a photographer, and Asheville local among other things. Follow her adventures at sarajaneblog.com