Last year, I entered the new year with high expectations and lots of goals for myself and my business. In my plans, there was no room for rest and reflection. My calendar was full of commitments I was willing to fulfil no matter what. I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it all, convinced that if I followed advice from internet gurus, I would finally reach the top. I didn’t ask myself what it was that I really wanted. I believed it was just time to be this high-achieving solopreneur who has it all.
My goals included all sorts of things: hosting networking meetings, running workshops, creating a membership, designing website templates, and creating a course teaching how to implement them, starting a podcast, writing a blog, losing a lot of weight, making lots of money. All in one year. All by myself.
I created a vision board with images and quotes meant to keep me inspired and motivated, hanging it above my desk. I designed a timeline with milestones for each project I decided to finish. And I kicked off 2023 with a clenched fist, saying to myself, “Just do it!”.
It started well.
I showed up on social media every day. I scheduled posts for Instagram 30 days in advance. I recorded a short video for stories almost every day. I started a networking group, hosting a meeting once a month while attending other meetings as well. I held two online workshops, created a website template, and recorded a podcast for my Polish blog. At the beginning of each month, I would create a little vision board to stay creative off my laptop. I had admin days, social days, and date nights. I met with my business coach to stay on top of things while helping my clients with their marketing and websites. And I also attended gym classes at least three times a week.
After three months of juggling between so many things, pressuring myself to achieve things and not giving myself enough time to rest, I felt burned out.
Instead of looking at it as a sign and making some amendments to my routines, I whipped myself and with no compassion, I pushed myself further.
I believed that if I stopped now, I would be a loser and the time spent on doing all these things for the past three months would be wasted. But with negative energy and a slightly depressed mind already, I reached another burnout. This time I was ready to throw in the towel for good.
I was about to leave it all behind.
To quit my life in the UK and go back to Poland to start over. To settle back. To leave my partner of three years, give up my solopreneurship, and get a “normal job.”
Fortunately, a plan I made in March came to reality — a house sitting in a cosy cottage by the sea. The timing couldn’t be better.
Two weeks by the coast, by myself, really helped me to reconnect with myself, slow down, and appreciate life itself. Having a walk by the sea every day created a sense of happiness I was craving. At the same time, I also realised the need for real connections. As much as I enjoyed my own company, I also felt quite lonely. It made me realise that happiness needs to be shared. It’s not the same on your own. You need to share a smile, have a conversation, exchange ideas, and express feelings. In a small village I stayed in, I managed to meet a few people who were happy to stop, smile, and exchange kind words and appreciation for the warmth of the sun and the sound of the sea. Small local communities also gave me a sense of belonging even if just for one day. Although still a bit lost and unsure of what to do next, I came back rejuvenated and more in tune with myself.
And just like that, good things started to come.
Within two months, I got a few new clients for my marketing and website design services. I started working with a new coach who, rather than pushing me to pursue my goals, helped me act from within and find my voice to speak my truth. I opened up to my partner and opened my heart to give AND receive love.
However, there was still something I didn’t know and understand until recently.
I was operating between highs and lows.
I had a burst of inspiration, motivation, and high energy only to then come down and crash at the bottom. Each time I fell, I found myself in a dark hole where everything was dull, depressing, and where I shrugged my shoulders, asking “What’s the point?”. In that dark place, I felt lonely, disconnected, and hopeless. I would binge-eat, binge-watch Netflix, and stay on the sofa each evening, grieving the part of me that wants to achieve things but is too weak to keep going consistently.
When I neglect my desire to write, I read others.
While feeling down, I found writers like Bryony Gordon, Danielle Benvenuto, Matt Haig.
Reading their wisdom made me realise that I am not alone in experiencing downfalls and depressive states. They showed me that I am just a human being and “Being human is a tough job”.
I can be simply inspired by new ideas and get excited about new projects, but then I easily get burnt out because, for a little moment, I believe I can do it all by myself and achieve anything in a very short period.
I rob myself of any joy and put a lot of pressure on myself just for the sake of it. Or maybe it’s my default setting carried from my childhood. Perfectionism. Never show any weakness. Don’t slack. Don’t admit that you struggle, are tired, or simply don’t fancy doing it. Because… what will others think?
Possibly the reason for my burnouts was because I always identify with what I do. I am what I do. It’s my identity. And if so, when something doesn’t go according to plan or simply I decide to change direction, I feel like a failure. Self-shaming takes over and from there, it’s a straight way to despair.
This emotional rollercoaster is exhausting.
What is even more exhausting is that I give my feelings too much power and meaning.
I hardly ever say ‘this shall pass’ when I am down. I usually just convince myself ‘I am weak, depressed, and can’t get anything done’. At this particular moment, all my past achievements and things to be proud of don’t matter. I am always sure that I will stay like this forever and there’s no point in even trying.
What if I see these low days as blessings?
I usually feel more in tune with my inner deeper self and am more open to the questions of the meaning of life. These reflective states are the best foundations for writing.
When I feel joy and happiness, I tend to focus on other activities like socialising, inspiring, and connecting with others. I am happy to be for others and share my gifts with the world.
When I am down, I want to go inward and follow my heart and soul calling to write and express what’s inside me.
What I want to learn better in 2024 is to accept the duality of human nature.
The fact that I will always and constantly operate between these two states: depression and joy. And that’s okay. I won’t be able to bottle either feeling, but I can make the best out of them by writing and giving myself a break.
Expect Nothing. Express Everything.
That is my motto for 2024.
I am done with putting so much pressure on myself.
I am tired of punishing myself for ‘not achieving.’
All I want is to just be and appreciate life for what it is.
The simple beauty and the moments of joy. As they come.
Happiness is in moments. Joy is in simply being.
Being a human is tough but I am open to exploring it further and finding a way to let myself be.
I am open to being simply inspired and aware that I can be easily burned out. Both states are okay, and I will welcome them with curiosity and appreciation.
So here it is to feeling down and to feeling happy!
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