A few years ago, I had a sneaking suspicion that my work/life balance was not sustainable. In full disclosure, it wasn’t a whispering intuition. There was a forceful voice in my head yelling, “Hey Toots! Your obsessive need to prove your worth through your work is going to kill you. Get your shit together!”
I had been working two jobs for almost five years, the result of my “side hustle” gaining traction and taking up more of my time. The money was rolling in and for someone who has a financial scarcity mindset, success not only felt like security, but it was also a source of immense pride. Look at me go!
The Achiever in me tends to be my greatest strength, but also the poison which leads to a slow decay--physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Long story short, I quit my day job and chose to try my entrepreneurial shoes on for size. Even though I was mentally SO ready to attempt something new, I was absolutely unprepared for the emotional tidal wave of fear that would wash over me. I nearly drowned.
I had no idea how to work for myself--how to market my skills and expertise, seek opportunities for collaboration, or even budget based on an inconsistent income. I was used to being overscheduled from the time I woke up to the time my weary head finally hit the pillow at night. All of a sudden, I found myself with nothing but time...staring at my laptop, waiting for an email to arrive in my inbox. The lack of busy-ness was terrifying.
What have I done?
As I sat at the bottom of a deep, dark hole of self-doubt and self-pity, my mentor (a badass entrepreneur herself) suggested a lifeline in the form of a book. Reaching desperately for any shred of wisdom cast my way, I immediately ordered 10x is Easier than 2x by Dan Sullivan. This book blew my mindset wide open and forced me to pick up the pieces, assembling them in a new and provocative way.
Let me give you the highlights…
Those of us who are Achievers are ever-facing forward, chasing the next mountain to climb. However, as we reach one mountaintop, the view exposes another peak, then another waiting for our ascension. Rather than celebrating what we have accomplished, the finish line feels constantly moving. We are in the continuous motion of striving. It gets exhausting.
Dan Sullivan teaches a strategy known as The Gap and The Gain, where he advocates for a pause. Instead of obsessively moving forward, it is crucial to take a moment and look behind you. Appreciate how high you’ve climbed and how far you’ve come. Celebrate the wins and use them as motivation to keep going.
In a time when I felt on the precipice of failure, The Gap and The Gain helped me recognize the successes I’d had in the last six months leading up to the change in my career. It validated my drive and determination, reminding me that I could do (and have done) hard things. In a year, I would likely be celebrating the brave decision to begin this new adventure.
The second knowledge bomb was the concept that we cannot make massive changes by doing the same thing we’ve always done. Old habits can lead us to minor adjustments and tiny moves forward (2x) but if we want to reach for the stars and increase our success tenfold (10x), we need to let go of 80% of what we know.
Sullivan suggests an exercise which requires readers to look at the last decade (or more) of their lives and record the times they made a huge leap of faith. The instructions are to write down the cost of each decision (the 80% they let go of) as well as the value added as a result.
In engaging in this exercise, I was shocked by the number of instances when I had reached for 10x in my life and found the cost was worth it every time.
Now, I am in a season where I am attempting to 10x again. When I quit my job, I gave up my pension, my benefits, my financial security, my prestige, my accolades, and my identity. What I hope to gain is freedom of time, the opportunity to follow a dream, the expression of my creativity, and the ability to choose how I wanted to work and who I wanted to collaborate with. Writing down my past 10x successes was a visual reminder that I could absolutely make this work. It would simply take time, effort, and a steadfast belief in my abilities.
Why am I sharing this with you?
We often read of success when people have already climbed the mountain. They are at the top, basking in the glorious horizon. I want to share my experience while I am trudging one foot in front of the other, grinding towards the peak. I hope that by seeing me risk it all, by watching me trip and get back up, you might give yourself permission to do the same. I want you to chase your mountain top, but with the knowledge that the journey is sweaty, arduous, and downright fucking hard. But the view from the top makes it all worth it.
As you sprint towards the final days of this calendar year and begin to look ahead to 2024, you might consider pausing to think about what you really, really desire. Listen to that little voice which whispers, “What if…” and give it time to dream. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Apparently, the view from the top is worth it.