Here’s the thing about living and working wholeheartedly: it’s going to look different for each and everyone one of us.
That’s why today I just want to share with you 10 of the ways I’ve been able to live and work wholeheartedly this year, in the hopes that they can be a jumping off point for you to explore some ways you can in the year, and years, ahead to come.
1. Take time off
By carving out time this year to step back from my business and just relax, recharge, and live a little has really helped me to ward off the burnout that I battled with during the end of 2015. Knowing that my life is bigger than just my work, and by trusting that my business will not fall apart if I take a step back for a week or so, I’ve been able to stay connected to the things that truly matter most to me this year. And whenever I’ve taken a step back for a week, I’ve always come back to my business with so much more energy, feeling so much more inspired, and feeling ready to really give my work 100%. Honouring my need for rest, and trusting that taking time off doesn’t take away from my business but is instead an investment in it’s long term ability to thrive and grow, has been a big turning point for me as a creative business owner in 2016 and something I hope to continue to honour in the years ahead to come.
2. Embrace the mini adventure
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some really awesome places this year, and I know it’s something Alex and I will continue to prioritise with our time, energy, and finances moving forward as exploring new places and having adventures together is something that brings us so much joy. But I’ve also found this year that there’s so much joy to be found at home too - we don’t have to get on a plane anywhere to embrace a little adventure. I’ve found that the more I build mini adventures into my day-to-day life when possible, the more joyful and fulfilled I feel along the way. For us that sometimes looks like getting out of the city for the day and exploring somewhere new, or maybe just doing some of our favourite things that are right there on our doorstep, or just spending time with our friends and loved ones and completely disconnecting from our work. Whatever it is, prioritising mini adventures and being connected the the world around us outside of our work has been something I've cherished so much this year.
3. Read, read, read
Books will always be one of my happy places, I truly believe that Ernest Hemingway was on to something when he said “there is no friend as loyal as a book”. I try and carve out time every single day to dive deep into my current read, even if only for 30 minutes before bed, and anytime when it’s possible to put aside a whole afternoon or evening to devour a good book I cherish every minute of it. Some of my favourite books that I’ve read this year (fiction + non-fiction) include:
- Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True-Life Tales of Friendships That Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell
- Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
- You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leires
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
- Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
- Becoming by Laura Jane Williams
- The Effortless Everyday by Katie Lee
- Heartburn by Nora Ephron
4. Journal & reflect
Life can feel pretty go-go-go sometimes. It can feel like I wake up on a Monday and as soon as I blink it’s Sunday evening all over again. I’ve found that the best way for me to stay connected to what matters most to me along the way is to make time for reflection on a regular basis - whether that’s through journalling, talking things out with a loved one, or just sitting with my thoughts and having a conversation with myself in my head.
It’s so easy to get caught up in my day-to-day and lose sight of what I really want to guide me along the way. Earlier this year I shared how How I Purposefully Set Intentions & Areas Of Focus Each Month In My Work & My Life and that process has changed everything for me. I also try and set daily intentions and journal often throughout the week so I can really listen to myself and dive deep into my core desires and feelings as I go.
5. Less screen time, more real life time
This is something I like to remind myself of often: my life is not happening behind a computer screen. The digital world is a fantastic tool - I wouldn’t have the career I have today without it. But sometimes, if I spend too much time behind my computer screen and not enough time with my loved ones and out there in the real world, I can start to feel a little disconnected and isolated along the way. Even just going for a walk through the city and just seeing other people go throughout their daily lives reminds me that there’s a big big world out there, and I worry so much less about the things that don’t truly matter - like if I got to inbox zero today, or how many opens my last Weekly Letter had, or just mindless scrolling through social media and my blog feed - and reconnect to the things that truly do.
6. Define success on your own terms
At the heart of my wholehearted year has been my definition of what a successful, joyful, and fulfilling life looks like to me. By defining success on my own terms, and running wildly in the direction of what a meaningful creative life looks like for me, I’ve been able to drown out all of the noise that doesn’t truly serve me and stay focused on the things that will. I often remind myself of a quote from Paulo Coelho: "What is success? It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace” - this is what I try and stay focused on, living a life where every single night I feel at peace with how I’m spending my days.
7. Question the stories you're telling yourself
I talked about this in a little more depth in a mini podcast episode this year called The Stories We Tell Ourselves. So many of us are battling with stories that we tell ourselves about what we’re capable of, or what we have permission to want or do, or whether we’re worthy enough of living the life we want to live. These stories can control us and paralyse us if we let them. By facing the stories I’ve been telling myself head on, questioning them, and finding a way to move past them, I’ve been able to live my life with so much more of a whole heart along the way.
8. Face your money mindset
There’s not a single creative I’ve worked with or met who doesn’t have a money mindset or struggle that they’re battling with. For me personally I can struggle with a scarcity mindset, with wanting to control my money, fearing that it will control me, and with overthinking and worrying about money even when everything is absolutely a-okay in the bank. I’ve tried to really face my money mindset head on this year - by questioning my thought pattern, by challenging myself to experiment with new approaches and mindsets, and by seeking out virtual mentors through the form of books, podcasts, and talks by thought leaders in the financial world that connect with my own core values.
By facing some of my money fears and mindsets head on, I’m thankfully ending the year in a much more peaceful and focused place financially. I’m learning to truly embrace that money is a tool for a wholehearted living - not something I should fear, or obsess over. If money is something that weighs a lot on your mind I have a post - Eight Honest Money Conversations To Help You Feel Less Alone In Your Freelance Finances - that may be the perfect read for you.
9. Work intuitively
Intuitive working has changed everything for me this year. I’m more productive than ever - while working less hours and feeling less exhausted and burned out in my business. I end almost every single workday feeling content, at peace, and proud of what I’ve got done that day, and I feel focused, in control, and on track in my business instead of scattered and overwhelmed. Intuitive working has been such a game changer for me this year that I created an entire course all about it.
Here are some blog posts I’ve shared this year around working smarter, not harder, and embracing intuitive working along the way:
- Why I Encourage My Clients To Work Intuitively
- The Things That Get In The Way Of Building A Joyful, Impactful, & Productive Daily Grind
- A Survival Guide To Your Season Of Intentional Hustle
- How I Intentionally Schedule My Week As A Creative Business Owner and How I Intentionally Schedule My Week As A Creative Business Owner: An Update
10. Embrace margin in your creative life
Last but not least: embracing margin in my life. By leaving white space in my life throughout the year - by having time off, by not over scheduling myself and overloading my workload, by taking days off to switch off from work - I’ve felt focused, energised, and like I’m living and working from “a full tank” (or at least more than half and never empty) for the majority of 2016. I no longer worry about making sure every waking minute of my day is productive and purposeful - I try and give myself space at times just to breath, just to relax, just to create or explore or just live for the sake of it - and it’s really enabled me to feel productive and focused in my business and free and joyful in my life too. For a big chunk of the first part of 2016 I embraced a season of rest, while still working in my business and making things happen - I shared a little more about this in this post here - and this was a fantastic catalyst for making 2016 a very peaceful, and focused, and intentional year along the way.