I was completely unable to work. My fatigue had been keeping me from concentrating all morning, and the symptoms of my illness – bloody, uncomfortable, and draining – had been steadily increasing over the past two weeks. I gave up trying to function, and went into the backyard to sit with a cup of tea and ask myself what to do next.
The vista was amazing. We live right next to the wilderness, and I watched birds fly around me as I sipped on my hot tea, a good book at my side and nothing planned for the next hour. I took an honest look at my frustration, and interrogated its source.
I wanted to be working. I was stressed about money, and my typical response to financial problems is to work harder, by making phone calls, filling my pipeline, or launching a new offer. I had multiple plans that could do any of these things, and a backlog of client work to complete, and my illness was keeping me from doing any of these things.
So I asked myself:
What is my illness teaching me right now?
Could there be some secret advantage to my illness, some new lesson I could learn, some evolution in my character or my career that would be unavailable to me without this illness?
For years, I’ve heard the secret of success is ‘work smarter, not harder’ but I rarely implement this strategy. My illness, however, is forcing me to reduce my work hours, and working smarter has become my only option.
While I was drinking my tea in the backyard, I asked myself what I would most like to be doing with my life. Beyond work. If money was not a factor, I challenged myself, how would I be spending my time? Would I be working my pipeline, or making phone calls, or launching a new offer, or doing work for my clients?
The answer surprised me. If I had all the money I needed to support my family, I would be sitting outside in the sunshine, drinking tea, with a good book at my side.
I would be doing the very things my illness is forcing me to do.
So I slowed down.
I spent a few days in recovery, postponed my next launch, notified some clients that work would be postponed, and removed non-essential projects from my schedule.
I’ve only had the stamina for minimal work each day. This forces me to work smarter, not harder. It also forces me to do those things that I would truly rather be doing: reading books, spending time with my kids, sitting outside and watching the birds fly by. I would not grant myself permission to do these things without my illness.
So that’s what my illness is teaching me: that I can spend time doing the relaxing things that I really want to do. That I have to do those things.
For a type-A Capricorn productivity geek, my default is to maximise every minute with productive activity. But that’s what made me ill. My illness is teaching me things, and it’s forcing me to re-prioritise my life.
So, I’ve made some serious decisions. Starting with this post:
I’m not doing anymore monthly roundups.
For all of 2019, I have been making a monthly roundup post with my highlights from social media, links to my latest published articles (both for myself and my clients), and a review of the metrics that matter to my business.
This month I’m stopping. I love writing these posts, but it’s self-indulgent and complicated journaling, and it takes me 2-3 hours per month.
So all I’m writing this month is this story; collecting all the metrics, and my top-performing social media posts, doesn’t get me where I want to go.
I’ll be re-thinking my whole content strategy for 2020. Stay tuned!