Once upon a time, I drank the “you’re not doing enough fast enough” Kool-Aid. I believed that in order to really follow my dreams, I had to be willing to get up early, stay up late, sacrifice time with friends and family and live my dream, all while trying to keep up with my full-time job and other responsibilities. I believed that I was never doing enough and that I would never be able to say I’d given enough to my dreams because I wasn’t hustling enough.
I can’t tell you how many times over the last two years I’ve read, listened to or been bombarded by the word hustle. Even now, just typing the word makes my heart beat faster and makes my palms a little sweaty. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t moving at warp-speed through projects. I wasn’t sacrificing enough sleep and enough time to my dreams. I felt like I had to say no to everything that wasn’t focused on making me a success.
And then I hit the wall. Hard. I stopped hustling. I stopped doing pretty much everything. I got burned out because I felt like, no matter what I was doing, I wasn’t doing enough. I felt like the fact that I enjoyed spending time with my friends was taking away from my hustle. I felt like the fact that I don’t function well when I get up in the wee early hours of the morning was ruining my chances at being all the things I wanted to be. I felt rushed. And, I also felt ashamed, because I wasn’t doing enough. I even started to think that maybe, just maybe, my dreams weren’t right because I didn’t have the burning desire to get up and hustle every single day.
So, around February 1, I stopped hustling. I stopped feeling like chasing my dreams was a spring to the finish line and started embracing it, instead, as a marathon. I stopped worrying about the hustle and started worrying about the dream. What can I do, big or small, to help my dreams come true? What avenues can I approach for writing and speaking opportunities? What time can I spend more wisely while still honoring my friendships, my community, my husband and my own health? What can I do to make myself proud today?
So, some weeks I hustle: I write a lot. I research guest blogging opportunities and think about what kind of writing I’d really like to do. Some weeks, I don’t hustle all that much. I spend time with the people who shape me into the best version of myself. I rest. I read. I watch some TV. I sit, happily, with my dog and do nothing. And, in that balance I’ve found what works for me. Sure, it may take me a lot longer to get to where I want to be. It might take me a long time to be published, to be a speaker, to do the things I love full-time. But, I used to believe that if I didn’t spend every waking moment chasing my dreams, I would regret it. Now I’m starting to believe that my dreams are just part of who I am. Sure, they’re a big part, but they’re not everything. And, I can’t chase those dreams if I’m not present and active in my life.
Maybe I’m selfish and just don’t want to make the sacrifices some of the experts say I need to make to be a success. And, I’m okay with that. Because, at the end of the day, every day, I want to be proud that I took the time to help a friend, answer that email or just be around, even if it puts my dream off another day.