Striving vs. Thriving

I feel like I’ve been running on survival mode for months. Maybe years.

One of the big worries for a while has been trying to “thrive” where I am. How do you get around to “living your best life” when you’re hardly paying your bills every month and you’re constantly moving or dealing with death or managing your mental illness? Who has time for thriving? Does that mean you’re failing if you’re not?

I’ve finally reached some kind of plateau in my life. Conceded a few good fights, surrendered to the reality of situations that ultimately broke my heart, allowed myself the space to sleep and cry and eat my mom’s cooking for a few weeks without feeling like a slob.

I woke up today and wondered what it will be like to thrive now that I’m in a place to do so. What kind of different creature will I have morph into to be more at peace with myself? I keep seeing butterflies in my tarot readings. I want that transformation. I know it feels more like molting, like a snakeskin in a place it shouldn’t be.

What I’m reminded of every morning, as I move through my regimen of making my bed and making coffee and making myself sit down to journal, even when I don’t want to, is that this is the molting, morphing creature now.

Striving. A more aggressive, active, sweaty version of thriving. Trying to revel in the doing instead of in the being. Verbs instead of adjectives.

I try to be grateful that I’ve finally got the energy and the fortitude to give my life the forward motion I’ve been craving. It feels like I’ve spent months building momentum, regaining muscle mass behind my willpower and my motivation and my confidence.

I have to actively forgive myself throughout the day when things don’t work perfectly. I have to be kinder, set myself up for success instead of failure to meet impossible standards. I leave more space for bad days.

It’s not sexy. I know you’re all probably sick of me saying stuff like that, but for such a long time I wanted everything to click. I wanted to be able to wrap my perfect days up in silk ribbons and lay them in the archive of my life like rewards for just waking up every day.

The internet likes to tell us we deserve that, when in reality, we earn a few perfect days and the rest are work. That’s okay. There is plenty of nobility and beauty in that.

The fact is that I was never going to get more of those perfect days if I didn’t start doing things differently. I had to accept what wasn’t working.  I had to accept that I wasn’t doing enough to get the results I want to see.


Being a Better Boss

I’ll admit here that the big relief that’s fueling this post today is that a client payment I’ve been waiting on has finally come through and I’m able to rebuild my life this week on a solid foundation of cash. I was very excited to catch up on bills and run errands.

Being your own boss sounds really great and it can be fun, if you’re willing to accept that you trade fun for funds and that your money problems (and ultimately the majority of your life’s stressors) are absolutely your own fault, always.

I’ve basically been treating myself like an unpaid, unsupervised intern for about a year. I get my work done because I’m smart and I want to do good work for my clients, but behind the scenes? Things have been an utter mess.

I don’t have systems, I barely have a schedule, “goal setting” has been nothing more than an excuse to spend an afternoon drawing with markers and designing cute stuff in Canva. I’m not following up on them, I’m not staying accountable to myself, I’m not reprimanding myself when I don’t hit the milestones I say that I need and want.

So now, things change.

There will be longer days, less goofing off, more real work, less wishful thinking and more follow through. I’ve designed this month to be tougher on myself than any month before, but I’m also actively planning to take Fridays “off” for fun, creative projects or collaborations.

Knowing that my days and ultimately my future success relies on my ass getting out of bed at 6am four days a week means that I have to get to sleep by 10pm four nights a week. It means I can’t look at my phone for half an hour before rolling out of bed or when I get discouraged half way through the morning. It means I have to be efficient and purposeful with how I move from one task to the other if I intend to get everything done.

The biggest challenge is accepting that I’m not always going to be happy while I’m at my computer and that some days are going to totally suck, but I’m responsible for showing up on bad days too. I’m in control of the situation and the only person I can come to if I fail is myself.

I made it over a year doing it the old way. I honestly am shocked that I made it this far without giving up on myself, but now I can only imagine what the next year will look like if I actually show up and do the work.

As for life outside billable hours, I’m working from the knowledge that how I wake up and spend my free time and attend to my spiritual/emotional needs is directly tied to the results of my work. My success with work allows me the freedom and resources to attend to my spiritual and emotional needs. It’s all connected.

I still plan to check in here at the end of every week as an act of accountability. I want to document the process and be able to trace the progress later in the year. Maybe one day all of these posts about the growth and the changes will become a resource for someone else that needs to hear the other kind of truth, that doesn’t want to ache for thriving but is striving to just show up to the work every day.