Dear Imaginative Woman,
I recently received an email from Martha Beck, an amazing writer and life coach, where she shared this excellent statement: "Simple recipe for happiness: Never do more than you can do in peace."
When I read this, I had one of those experiences where the right words hit me at the right moment. My world cracked open, and I was like, "YES. THOSE ARE THE WORDS I NEEDED TO HEAR!!"
And all of a sudden I had a new life mission, to never do more than I could do in peace.
The reason I needed these words so badly was because for a while now I've been trying to fit a lot of work into a small number of hours.
Since forever, my dream has been to work 20 hours per week. This is my goal because it feels like absolute freedom.
The only trouble has been that no matter how hard I've tried, the amount of work I do in my business each week has never fit into 20 hours. There has always been too much to do, and lately, that too much has been making me feel tired, anxious, and a little strung out.
When Martha's email came in, I immediately saw I needed to take this statement to heart. I needed to do less.
I started by making a chart of all the things I do. Then I categorized each item by which ones felt like too much and which ones felt like peace. For each one that felt like too much, I decided to either cut it out all together or to do less of that thing. For example, I decided to stop doing a regular monthly call and to post less on Instagram.
Honestly, this felt really, really scary at first, because I bumped up against the reason I was doing too much in the first place.
The reason I was doing ALL THE THINGS was because of a belief instilled in me at a very young age.
This belief was that the value of my work is in how much I can get done, ie, the more stuff I do, the more successful I'll be, and the more everyone will love me!!
Ugh...I feel massively stressed just writing this paragraph. There is no peace for me in this belief.
I think it's actually a pretty common one. I grew up in an industrialized nation whose educational system is based on making people good factory workers. In this system the more you do and the quicker you do it, the more you are seen as a good, valuable worker.
Take online marketing. I run a business, and what a lot of marketing "experts" tell you is that you should have a blog and a podcast, you should be on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and you should have a Facebook Group and a newsletter. Also, you should be publishing content to these places as much as possible every day, because if people lose sight of you they forget you exist. They need to see you doing more so you can sell them all the stuff!!!
"Do all the things so you can be successful" is the exact opposite of "never do more than you can do in peace."
But peace, freedom, and joy are what I crave, not the frenetic energy of hustling until I burn out.
In my ongoing journey of becoming wildly authentic, I saw that my next step was to ask myself what my authentic self, my soul, had to say about all of this.
Here is what my soul's voice told me:
"There is so much medicine, so much value, in doing less. In fact, by focusing in and scaling back, you will be so much more. What you offer will be deeper and more potent than ever."
This felt so damn peaceful and awesome. Letting myself trust the truth of this felt like I was at a day spa. It made my entire back release and melt like I was getting the best massage ever.
The truth is that doing less allows me to be more of myself in each place I show up. It allows me to turn my attention even more to the healing work I do and to the energies of peace and freedom I want to create in the world.
I have been laboring all my life under the illusion that to be successful I have to do more, when in reality, doing less means more for me - more freedom, authenticity, peace, love, joy, and more success on my soul's terms.
My question for you this month is: Where you are doing more than you can do in peace?
And my loving suggestion is to remember that our cultural systems have things a little bit wonky when it comes to the words "value" and "worth". Maybe take a look at the deeper belief driving you to do more than you can do in peace, and see if you can go into your heart to find the true value you bring to the table - your wonderful, imaginative, beautiful soul self.
Email me and let me know what you'll be doing less of. I'd love to celebrate your new found freedom with you!
In wonder & gratitude, always,
Emma Basu is a writer, personal development teacher, and the Founder of The School of Wild Authenticity