Protect what’s yours . . . and be ruthless about it.

Rain sloshed relentlessly against the walls of the 18th-century barn as our gas fireplace burned hotly.

Tucked into deep armchairs — in-between business books, half-eaten macaroons, and mugs of just-brewed hot chocolate — we peeled off our business armor piece by piece, pushed off our metaphorical shields, and allowed ourselves to be seen, really seen, by each other for the first time.

Eye to eye, heart to heart, we spread out our fears like paper.
Offered up validation on cardboard plates between fistfuls of chocolate-covered popcorn.

Dropped every defense down, down, down.
Shook out the gremlins and held each other up, up, up.

It was after midnight, and the conversation showed no signs of stopping — as though we were gripped by an invisible hand which jerked at our hearts and marched us past sleep.

Me. Patsy. Amy.
A mastermind weekend on the Cape.

I was talking about my conflict around saying “yes” versus saying “no”, how overwhelmed I’d been feeling, and how I needed to build better boundaries.

Suddenly, Amy had a flash of insight.

“RUTHLESS! That’s what your word for 2015 should be!”

And as soon as she said it, I knew she was right.

It’s funny, that word had always made me think of someone with NO compassion. NO heart. But I realized in that instant that being ruthless is the ULTIMATE act of self-love.

I got to flesh out the idea some more at a New Year’s workshop at Patsy’s house a month or two later.

My definition?

Ruthless = aggressively protective of my time and how I spend it — from who I spend it with, to what I say “Yes” to — so that I can do my BEST work and feel how I want to feel.

The goal: EASE. SPACE. FLOW.

Less stress. Less overwhelm. More happy.

It means:

: only writing for those people who have a genuine desire to work with me.
: saying “Yes” only to those opportunities that are in support of my wider, deeper mission.
: making time not only for what’s most important for my business, but what’s most important to ME.

For the first time in forever, I’m not booked out for months and months, and it feels . . .

It feels like freedom.

Sometimes, being ruthless is more merciful than merciless — to you, and to those who want the best for you.

Protect what’s yours.
Guard your time fiercely.
Make no excuses.

Because if you want to make a difference, you’ve gotta clear some space first.

Originally published at nikkigroom.com on March 29, 2015.