Before my daughter was born, I busily prepared for her arrival. Our guest room was converted into a nursery, which required laying down new carpeting and painting. We got and assembled baby supplies. All the pro-typical nesting things happened in my home.
But there was another part of preparation I had to take as a self-employed professional. I had to declutter my work life. While I had planned to take a maternity leave, I also knew I wasn't going to have the same amount of time to work when I returned to client engagements. So I took to renegotiating my commitments.
In addition to prioritizing what activities I said yes to, I also decluttered my inbox. I spent a week systematically evaluating my emails and unsubscribing from lists. My rationale was, the less cluttered my inbox was, the more productive I would be with the limited time I spent online.
The process I went through worked like a charm and I found myself wondering, why hadn't I done this sooner?
It's amazing how complacent we become about the way things are. Especially those things we let irk us. We let them happen again and again because we believe that's just the way it has to be.
I thought I had to be subscribed to all these email lists in order to "stay up to date" on all things relevant to my work. Yet for years, I unceremoniously deleted them, day in and day out. Telling myself, "I'll read the next one."
The same was true for some of the commitments I renegotiated - networking events, unpaid speaking engagements, time consuming marketing tactics. I told myself they were all necessary for my success. But it turns out not doing all the things made me more successful. I stopped working 40+ hour weeks when I became a Mom and earned more money!
It's almost eight years later now, and I find myself in a similar situation as I navigate a cancer journey. Doctor's appointments and self-care are time consuming priorities and I've had to let go of things that filled my day with busy work. I've been unsubscribing from emails. Taking a break from recording new Co-Creators in Conversation interviews (luckily, there's quite the backlog of interviews already recorded). And focusing the majority of my work time on a limited cadre of clients so I am able to maintain my high standards as a service provider.
The experience is opening me up to consider other opportunities for my business. I have been reflecting on ways I might restructure my services and adapt my business model. I’ve become more aware of the things that bring me joy and have gotten better at delegating.
And possibly, more importantly, I’m not in such a rush to make things happen. I’m finding peace in letting plans simmer knowing, like a hearty stew, they’ll end up better that way. This is quite a stretch as two of my strengths are ideation and activation - having a spark of inspiration then immediately acting on it has also been a liability before. Half-baked plans sometimes turn out much more messy and disappointing, creating even more unanticipated work.
I’m learning to distinguish between hopeful waiting and purposefully slowing down. Easing into the uncertainty like winter transitions to spring. With great anticipation of the flowers emerging from the frozen soil and acceptance that the exact moment they bloom will remain a mystery until it happens.
What’s next for me and Rosabella Consulting? I’ll tell you in time, dear friend! For now, you can join me in excitedly and peacefully waiting for things to continue simmering until they’re just right to share.
One need not wait for the birth of a baby or a health challenge to engage in such spring cleaning of our work lives. To sit back in a great pause, reflect on what’s working and what needs to change. To renegotiate commitments and declutter the excess. To let go of the things that are no longer serving you. And to recognize that you are right where you’re supposed to be right now - and that’s good enough!