About five weeks ago, my former assistant, Emily, and I packed my trusty little Jetta full of snacks and weekend bags and headed south to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Making Things Happen conference. I had no expectations going in … and I think I'm glad that was the case. If I would have known how far I would be pushed out of my comfort zone, I probably would have planted myself on my safe couch in my safe house with my nose stuck in a safe book. Sometimes you have to be pushed though, you know? I've waited a long time to blog about MTH because I honestly didn't know how to put it into words. I'm not sure I do now. The short of it: MTH is a two-day conference for creatives, most of whom are business owners or on the brink of a business or big idea. I knew we'd be talking about goal setting and where we wanted to go. I was ready for that, and I was ready to break out of a work-life balance cycle that seemed to always teeter more towards work and less towards life.
What I didn't expect was how much we'd address what's really at the root of it all: What matters to us personally, forget work. What fires us up and what freaks us out. What we really wanted to accomplish but weren't sure we'd ever be able to. You guys. It was terrifying to get up in front of a group of 100 people and say out loud what we feared the most. But you know what? It was liberating too. We were pushed again and again to verbalize what we were saying NO to and what we were saying YES to. All so we could get to that place we wanted to be--personally and professionally.
Here are some of mine:
- I am saying NO to working past 5 p.m.
- I am saying YES to having more adventures with Nathan.
- I am saying NO to comparing myself to others.
- I am saying YES to making time to read every day.
One thing that Lara said that really hit me was that we can only do life with every part of us in. I realized at that moment that, that was what was bothering me. I was always so consumed with social media and work and multitasking that I was never really turning it off. When I was hanging out on the couch with Nathan I was also looking at Facebook. When I was making breakfast in the morning I was already thinking about what I had on my to do list that day. There is a time for work, of course, but there's also a time for no work. I was suddenly seized with this desire to have conversations and really listen. I wanted to go get ice cream and truly, 100% enjoy the flavor and the colors and the cold sensation. It sounds cheesy and so obvious but as a creative--and also Type A--business owner, I thought that my success was dependent on how much time I was devoting to my business. I learned that I really just need to work smarter, not longer.
It's definitely still a learning experience. I didn't come home from Chapel Hill as this perfectly focused business owner, but I'm aware and constantly working on making things better and giving my time to what matters most. I could share a million other things from those two days, but I think I'll save them for future blog posts. I will say that one of my very favorite things that came out of Making Things Happen is a new morning routine. I used to wake up, grab breakfast and race to my office to start on e-mails, but now I wake up, change my clothes (important!), brush my teeth and wash my face, cook a healthy breakfast for Nathan and me, and hang out with him and the TODAY show before he leaves at 8 a.m. THEN I head to my office and start my day. Such a huge difference!
I challenge you to reflect on what matters to you and where you want to be and make your own YES and NO list. I'm always adding to mine … I probably always will! … but keeping it at arm's length helps me when I'm struggling and need a reminder of the course I want my life to take.
Thanks to Robyn Van Dyke Photography for the awesome group photo!