Hope your Monday is off to a fabulous start, friends.
These letters have always been my way to honestly share with you guys the ups and downs of trying to consistently run a business that is aligned with my core.
I seem to go through phases where that task feels effortless and everything lines up perfectly, and other phases where it seems like my business goals and my personal values are in a silent stand-off, refusing to bend to each other's will.
I want to talk about what to do when suddenly you find yourself thinking less and less about your WHY and more and more about how to catch up or fit in or stand out. In other words, when you start spending your mental energy on concerns that are outward, rather than concerns that are inward.
More specifically in my case, I'm referring to my pre-occupation with friends and peers that also have online businesses. It's so hard for me not to find myself peeking at their huge audiences and their six-figure yearly income and to aspire to the same thing.
It's not even necessarily that I want what they have, it's just that it makes me question what I do have. Should I be working more? Should I be growing faster? Should I be trying this or that?
I don't think humans by nature are competitive; I think we're comparative. Our way of making sense of ourselves is by seeing how we stack up against those around us.
Unfortunately, that danger of that type of thinking is that it can often leave you feeling less than and anxious and riddled with self-doubt.
It's then that I have to pull myself back in and remember, I didn't start Made Vibrant to turn it into a million dollar business; I started Made Vibrant so that I could live a life of creativity and flexibility while using my gifts and voice to make a small-but-positive difference on the world.
A few weeks ago a friend asked about my big vision for Made Vibrant -- what my goals are for the future and what I want to create. I thought about spouting off my ideas for future products and growth and big shiny milestones, but instead here's what I wrote:
“I use my business to fuel the life that I deeply desire, one that allows me to fully express each of my core values. That's my personal big vision. Some people live their lives in a way that bends to their business; I run my business in a way that bends to my life.”
Where is that girl these days when I need her?!
The truth is, lately I’ve been bending my life to my business, not the other way around, and it has been stealing the joy from it a bit.
The business has been steering the ship and I’ve been running around just trying to keep up. But that’s not the way I want to live at all.
So what do you do when you feel out of control?
You take control BACK with intention. And focus. And ownership.
You own the fact that no one can make you less stressed but YOU. No one can make you feel more at peace or filled with gratitude but YOU. NO one can bring back your mojo but YOU.
When you find yourself down a path that strays from your core purpose, you simply look up, turn right back around with laser focus, and you make a beeline for your values. Your reinvest in what lights you up.
I woke up this morning feeling a strange combination of somberness and lightness. We found out last night that a business acquaintance, someone I didn’t know very well but who was a visible member of the online business community and (from what I hear) an all around great person, passed away recently. He was young and vibrant and adventurous, and though I didn’t know him personally, it still rattled me quite a bit.
It may sound cliche but it’s those moments of surprising loss that often bring your attention back to just how much beauty is surrounding you.
So when I woke up this morning, instead of diving straight into my email or even this newsletter, which is customary for me, I sat on our porch and read a few chapters from Elizabeth Gilbert’s upcoming book, Big Magic (my roommate got me an advanced copy through a publishing friend and I've been devouring it.)
As I sat there reading, I was struck by how beautiful it is when you can feel someone’s heart through their art. And as I looked up, that thought suddenly brought my attention to how many other beautiful things I was surrounded with: a peaceful and still morning, a warm and satisfying cup of coffee, and two dueling (or maybe flirting, it’s hard to tell which) hummingbirds floating from tree to tree in front of me.
How many mornings have I had the opportunity to witness this kind of magic and instead I’ve chosen stress and worry and impatience?!
For whatever reason, in all of this distraction and uncertainty, that word beauty is starting to lead me back to my own core. For me, it represents what is good and satisfying and enriching to the soul.
And I’ve decided to use it as my mantra to scramble my way back to the purity of my work. To write for the beauty of it. And to teach for the beauty it brings to my life when I see you guys finding confidence and clarity where maybe you didn’t have it before.
So, this week, I encourage you (and myself) to bring back the beauty.
Bring back the beauty to this moment.
Bring back the beauty to this day.
Bring back the beauty to this project.
To this relationship. This conversation. This thought.
For me it's about letting go of the weighty things -- comparison, anxiousness, doubt, fear -- and shifting focus back to what feels good and what moves your soul.
In this season of life, I'm trying to lean a little harder into contentment. To take a break from pushing forward so hard and instead to cozy up to my life and let myself sink into the warm, pillowy comfort of this beautiful existence I’ve worked so hard to create. To stop lacing up at the drop of a hat, so eager to head back into the race just when I start to feel comfortable.
That kind of presence and happiness takes intention though. It requires applying energy to things that may not bring you more money or more prestige, but that will certainly bring you more peace and more joy.
I hope you'll join me in bringing back the beauty to your own life and your own work.
And I sincerely thank you for indulging me in this week's long and rambling letter!
Wishing you a beauty-full week. ;)
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This post first appeared in my Monday newsletter to Self-Made Society -- Made Vibrant's email community for soulful creatives. Sign up and you'll get instant access to my e-book, A Year Made Vibrant, with over 50 of my past weekly newsletters.