Hustle at Your Own Pace

I don’t consider myself a particularly high achiever. I mean, I want to be, but every time I look out there, there’s always somebody who far outpaces me. Sort of like the time I first met the man who would end up being my future department head at the ol’ SIM USA media department. At that point, I was the most energetic person in my circle. Terrill made me look like I was moving at a snail’s pace. But maybe that was just Terrill.

Anyway, I have a hard time sitting still. I dream of days where I could sit and do nothing, of living in a place where the most tiresome thing I’d have to do all day is household chores and gardening. But I know me. A few months of that pastoral setting and I’d be hatching plans for farmer’s market domination with my farm fresh goodies. It’s just my personality as an ENTJ. I have to be making plans and executing on them.

In reality, my plans for entrepreneurial success are constantly battled by my own physical limitations. I can push and push and push to make something happen or crunch to a deadline, but I often do while ignoring my own warning signs. I won’t hide; I’ve driven myself into debilitating sickness and also episodes of depression. These days, the periods between energy and no energy are getting shorter and shorter. Sometimes even less than a week.

I got back from NAB in Las Vegas at the end of April with a nasty head cold. My voice was nowhere to be found. All the hustle beforehand to be ready for the conference caught up with me while there. It’s quite a joke to be at a networking event and be whispering your introductions to everyone. As my husband said, “It’s like everything you’re saying is a secret.”

After finally healing up and my voice coming back a few days later after coming home, I started the push that would be the month of May. It seemed to be going well enough too. Not as productive as I would have liked, but okay. I knew I needed rest but just couldn’t seem to get it.

This past Saturday we decided to take a last-minute camping trip. We threw the sleeper bed into the Subaru, packed a few overnight food needs, and then headed up to the mountains. We found a lovely campsite at Kelsey US Forestry Service Campground, just north of Deckers, CO and spent the night. Not gonna lie, it’s amazing what even just 24 hours of quiet, campfire, and fresh air can do for the soul. But it certainly had an effect I wasn’t anticipating.

We got home Sunday afternoon, unpacked the car, and I plunked down on the couch to take a load off my feet for a few minutes. I ended up sitting on the couch for the next six hours, utterly exhausted. My husband flipped on a TV show and I didn’t even care that I wasn’t interested. I was just too tired. The pan of black bean brownies I made for the weekend ended up being dinner.

Those 24 hours in the woods had so deeply reminded my body of the rest it needed, there was no energy left for anything. I went to bed early, woke up late Monday morning, still tired. The trend continued all week.

And for once, I didn’t fight it. I was tired, so I cut my to-do list to the essentials–mainly working for one archive client and doing both the house and business books–and settled into a comfortable couch. Yesterday, Thursday, was the first day all week since leaving Kelsey Campground that I actually felt good about things. I had some energy. Life seemed glorious (despite the late spring snowstorm that strolled through Denver this morning). I felt ready to TAKE ON THE WORLD! And I would have, if I hadn’t already made plans to spend the afternoon with my friend, Julie.

And so now my calendar forced more rest. And the funny thing is, I still needed it. Julie and I spent the day talking, playing violins together, and then she gave me a back massage. Sure enough, all my knots were stress-related.

The bottom line? I HAVE to start cutting myself some slack and learn instead to hustle hard within the boundaries my body is setting for me at the moment. One of my life goals right now is to be both rested and restful. There is a difference. One happens at regular intervals. One is a continuous state of being. Too often my rested intervals come at the cost of my own health and sanity.

Rest feels inefficient, so my personality rejects is as a necessary component of life. But as one of my dear friends back in North Carolina once challenged me, “Rest is holy. God Himself rested from His work. What makes you think you, His created, can get away without resting? It’s as much a spiritual discipline as prayer, worship, devotion, or sacrifice.” The more frequent my rest needs are becoming, the more I realize I need to grasp this, sooner rather than later.

It’s always a good thing to compare yourself to others every once in a while. It’s good to have role models to emulate, goals to have, and plans for the future. But more and more I’m realizing that I have to hustle at my own pace. And my own pace may not be the pace I think intellectually the best. But my own pace will be infinitely better than unsustainable rocket-to-the-moon/crash-and-burn cycle I have got myself habituated to.

“For ENTJs, failure is not an option — they conceive a vision of the future, formulate a strategy to achieve that vision, and execute each step with ruthless precision.” This quote about ENTJ’s doesn’t surprise me. My favorite bumper sticker pinned on my wall is the NASA quote: “Failure is not an option.” I often feel this way about my hustle. Thing is, I have to redefine failure as crash-and-burn. And that is no longer an option.