In the beginning of 2019, I took the plunge and started building something of my own from scratch. I was fueled by the insane drive from having found my purpose in life — a meaningful cause that deserves all my energy, potential and time on Earth. A labor of love that triggered a whole new level of inner strength and motivation for me. A big project that challenged me on multiple levels and allowed me to unfold my full potential.
In the end of 2019, I found myself extremely exhausted and numb inside. I didn’t feel the enthusiasm, passion and satisfaction from the meaning of what I do. No success or failure in anything were causing any emotions inside of me. I was working on autopilot. That’s when I realized something is wrong.
A pretty obvious causality when you don’t take a single weekend off a whole year. Sure. That’s when you look at it from the outside. (And I’m very thankful to the people who did that and told me what they saw.)
When you’re in it though, you’re just blindly in love with the work you do, and you’re obsessed with pushing your limits. You fully immerse in it, you make it your number one priority, you silence every other aspect of your life… and you eventually loose perspective. (If you’re the perfectionist-workaholic-type-of-person like me.)
As I’ve written last year, when you start doing what you consider your life work, everything that is inside of you floats to the surface. Finding your purpose doesn’t magically make everything fall into place. It is rather a major and crucial moment in life that gives you the amazing opportunity to see yourself.
So what was floating on the surface by the end of this year for me was one painful realization that I can’t pin down better than Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection:
Exhaustion is not a status symbol. Productivity is not a measurement tool for personal worth.
In the beginning of December 2019, I stopped working. I deleted the instagram app on my phone and did not log in once. I spent a lot of time alone, in silence. I let go of to-do-lists, schedules, plans and performance pressure. I also did a number of things that I would normally never do.
I was building Dora 2.0.
It felt terribly wrong at first. I felt useless, weak and a bit crazy at times. They say you’re gonna piss off a lot of people when you start doing what’s best for you. I felt that, too. All of this inevitably brought up the question:
Who am I if I’m not achieving anything?
Essentially, the question here is how do you define your personal worth? Can you accept and love yourself even if you get up and do nothing all day? Can you love what you do infinitely and still need a break from it?
A major insight for me was this: Once you connect deeply to your purpose, you become it. You are the purpose. Everything you do is part of your purpose. Taking a month off from it, too.
In fact, being constantly available and live-streaming your life comes at a very high price. You become the opposite of your own boss — a slave to the image you’re trying to maintain. You also become untrustworthy when you’re constantly posting the amazing life you have. Nobody has their shit together all the time.
The good news is: life feels awesome with no instagram. You might as well really feel life only then. Offline.
And I mean, there should be some sacred things in life. You don’t need to expose your quality family time on the internet. In fact, if it’s real quality time, you shouldn’t be online at all. Be present. Be there. Have heart-to-heart talks with friends and family.
We gotta stop texting others while spending face time with people. We gotta stop scrolling, and start looking people in the eyes. We gotta remember the important things in life and give them the space they deserve.
How about taking December off in general? Escaping the holiday madness (however it looks like for you), instead of being a victim to it as if you had no choice? How about going to some sunny place in the coldest month, not to show off on social media, but to indulge mindfully, relax, restore and reflect back on your year?
How about taking time to craft personal, meaningful presents to your loved ones instead of taking the easy, convenient route of materialistic gifts? Tell them you love and appreciate them. In any human’s life there’s only so much time. Uplift the people you care about. Show your support. Give what you want to receive. Do what makes you feel good.
I’m talking about true (self-)care here. You gotta take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others. So check what you really need in this moment. When tension runs high, the greatest way to support yourself and practice self-love is to create the opportunity to chill.
I’m glad people like Joel Gascoigne, co-founder and CEO of Buffer, are bringing this important topic to the forefront in such a transparent way:
In order to feel the real taste of a meal, to enjoy the warmth of your sweet home, to connect with the important people in your life, you’ve got to be off-line. In order to figure out where you want to go, you’ve got to stop and take a look at where you’ve been. In order to love yourself, you’ve got to believe this:
I am enough in spite of my achievements and failures.
Thank you Brené Brown (quote above), Leslie Boyer and Mary Ann Somerville for teaching me to accept and love myself no matter what. To not define myself based on my achievements or failures but based on the Love I carry in my heart. Thank you for being the divinely empowering role models, mentors and leaders you are.
This is your life.
Reflect on it.
Create it — consciously and intentionally.
You are the source.
Go rock your 2020!
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