Things have been rough lately, and I’ve been spraying flowers at all of you who read my emails.
So in an effort to not be a complete downer, I’ll be raw and genuine with you. Since you read these notes from me, I am going to trust you to be in your love as you read.
Success chewed me up and spit me out these past couple of months.
… And by spit me out, I am talking nearly at the Britney Spears shaving her head level of feeling spit out.
I remember how I used to creep on the Internet years ago, utterly fascinated by bloggers, writers and people selling products online. I’d put their success on a pedestal, imaging what their thought leadership, social lives and financial freedom felt like.
I knew I had something in me, a talent that was waiting to come out into the world.
And as I started building a business of my own, I learned that I don’t completely want that life—a life of bigger, better and more being the goal all the time.
I was chasing this ever-elusive carrot of success, and it wasn’t until I finally achieved it – completely disconnected from myself — that I was able to tap into how much more there is to pay attention to in life.
For example, my dad who is my favorite person and 73 years old.
Or my mom who is my closest confidante.
Or my fiancé who I’m supposed to be planning a wedding with.
Or my brothers, who haven’t seen me in ages, but both live minutes away.
Or my best friend in the world, who is moving to South Dakota to complete her PhD.
I invite you to take a moment to write down what’s important for you to pay attention to in your life. And, ask yourself: are you paying attention to those?
If you’re not, why?
All of this slipped through the cracks because I was too busy focusing on work.
My Limitless Career Lab job hunting program exploded in these past few months—thousands of people joined in just 8 weeks— yet this experience of massive success felt so odd. I’d been working for three years on the program and the launch. I went into debt and struggle as much as I did into success with it… And with this surge of new clients came new business challenges (some expected and some not so much).
…Have you ever been so laser focused on a goal that you don’t see anything on the sidelines?
I felt so connected to my purpose in the world as people emailed me telling me that the content in my program changed their lives and helped them get job offers… It kept me addicted to working harder because I felt a sense of pride in their words.
And then, on the flipside, I’d experience a pain in my heart as I’d also hear from people who would read my blog and tell me my work was useless to them. For example, here’s a slice of tough feedback from someone who reviewed a free training I did on my yelp page.
“Ashley – if you’re reading this, please learn to speak without smacking your lips at the end of every sentence. Please hire a professional to conduct on-camera interviews with your clients to get some decent quality testimonials and edit them so your clients don’t look like idiots sitting on Skype in their living room. And if you’ve already hired a professional, please fire them because they are not serving you well.”
My friend read it and called me… “Shoot, you’ve gotta work on getting some more positive yelp reviews to drown that thing out.”
“Happy people don’t write when they’re happy. They’re too busy being happy.” I replied.
The opinions were high, and low—all over the board… And I knew that it was my responsibility to hold onto my equanimity — my peace — in the midst of all the opinions.
And somewhere along the way, I started to hear my own voice, my inner counselor (know that you have one too) again. It told me five things:
1. Know your why. I cringed as I wrote those three words because they feel so cheesy to me. But really, know what the driver is for you in your career and life… Because money, fame, or losing 10 pounds won’t give it to you. And I know it because I’ve lived it in my short 29 years here. Know that your money won’t come into your grave with you, and know that it’s insanity to do something you hate. Time is all you have, and as the minutes become hours, and the hours become days… It’s too short to hate your time. Plus, you can only succeed for so long don’t something you don’t like… That kind of discipline and pushing takes mega energy…
Think about what fuel you put in your car, so to speak. Is it fear of failure that drives you to succeed or is it joy and inspiration that fuels your car to keep driving towards your goals?
2. Quitting is for winners. There’s something so freeing about quitting things and I think the act of quitting is totally underrated. Why is society so high pressure about staying the course when so many of us are on a course we don’t like? If it sucks, leave. If you hate what you do, know that you have the power to change it. Stop buying into the belief that it’s “happening to you” and update that old thinking with the truth: that you are choosing it.
Like I’ve said before, it’s a cultural insanity that we are always trying to solve problems by adding things into our lives when the real problem solver is often REMOVING things from our lives.
If you’re having an off week, stop asking yourself what you need to bring into your life for it to be better. Start asking yourself what you can nix to feel lighter.
3. You’re going to die someday. And the people who love you could give a shit about your accomplishments. They’re just too busy loving you…
I’ll spare you the whole “would you be happy if this was your last day” spiel, but here’s what I want to know: is there something you’ve said “yes” to this week that you really don’t want to spend your time doing?
A “yes” to one thing is a “no” to something else. Everything that doesn’t feel like a “hell yes” to you must be a “no.”
4. Be your own best friend. And listen to yourself. You are so wise. No one knows you as well as you do. Create silence. There’s a voice. Listen to it. Honor it.
5. Create a community. Some people emailed asking what my Master’s program is—it’s University of Santa Monica. The program helped me create a community of women that really inspire me to play bigger—not on the outside world, but inside of myself. To be stronger, to live with even more integrity, to be more loving.
You are never too much. And you are always enough. Create a community that reminds you of that—not that you need the reminder, but it can be so helpful sometimes.
“Love and work, work and love, that’s all there is.” – Freud
So fine, work hard… But love harder.