In my mind I immediately responded, “hell yeah!”
Later, we chatted on the phone and had a great conversation. It got me excited about the possibilities that this side gig could bring.
But then I got off the phone, and my gut started getting all twisted. With the excitement of the conversation, I had temporarily blacked out and had forgotten that for the past couple of weeks, I decided to make it my mission to slow down…to cut back.
I had in fact been listening to nothing but slow movement and simple living podcasts, as I was beyond over listening to one more podcast that wanted to tell me how I could be a success, more productive, make millions, or all three.
It all started a couple months back when I was given a book on productivity to read for a review (because of course I said, “yes” to that). Somewhere in the beginning chapters I had read that successful people plan every
minute second of every day. Instead of being inspired I thought, “you’ve got to be _____ kidding me!” I put down the book and vowed to never read another book on productivity ever again.
The idea of planning out every second of my day just seemed truly awful. Do you really plan fun? Do you really plan spontaneity? Really??? The whole idea seems…pardon my French, completely anal. If that means success, then may I never be successful!
The idea of wanting to slow down and lead a more simple life is not a new concept to me. I’ve brought it up before, but as a freelancer who was struggling financially, I had to sacrifice slowing down in order to hustle to make money and pay rent.
Still, I did my best by decluttering often, getting rid of many unnecessary things in my apartment, selling old things on Craigslist (even when it was hard to do), and trying to focus on only having things around the house I could use. At least that part was going well.
Fast forward to me getting a full time job. It’s demanding…in a good way, and very challenging…also in a good way. I devote a lot of time and brain power to my 8 to 9 hours a day there. That’s all well and good, but then I’m still side hustling and working a lot on my blog. I write and prep my posts on the weekend, write some more, read other blogs and comment, and do other kinds of general blog work.
I also do what a lot of you do who work full time with blogging: I read and comment before work, during lunch, and after work as well. And yet I still have a hard time keeping up, and feel really guilty about it.
I debate whether a morning jog is better than an hour I can spend blogging. Sometimes the jog wins, sometimes it doesn’t.
I realized that I spent so many years trying to build up the momentum of being a “hustler,” that now I’m seriously afraid to let it go.
And I realized to do that I would have to face new fears I never really knew I had…
Fear One: You spent so many years struggling financially and now you’re going to turn down money? How ungrateful can you be, Tonya (my fear talks in the 3rd person)?
Fear Two: If you turn down this gig, no one will EVER ask you to do another side hustle.
Fear Three: If you turn this down, you are going to disappoint your friend, who was nice enough to think of you for this opportunity.
Fear Four: You won’t be able to save for ______ as fast, if you don’t take this job.
Fear Five: You will start to become lazy if you don’t work hard.
Fear Six: What if you lose your job and now you’re left with no backup plan as far as work?
Whoa! That’s a lot of sh*t going down in my brain, eh?
I had to sit down and think things through. And one question kept popping up in my mind that if answered correctly, would solve most of my problems. That question is, “what is most important to you right now?”
As if I was some kind of crazy lady in the park feeding the birds and talking to myself, I answered, “to focus on keeping things slower and simpler in my life.” And then I got even crazier as I answered myself back, “well then, you can’t take on anything more, when in fact, you need to cut back.”
It’s funny that I’m even admitting I’m a workaholic. When did that happen? I remember an ex-boyfriend once delivering a low blow to me saying, “I can tell you don’t even like working very much.”
It’s not that I didn’t…but I also really believe that one needs to have a life…a rich, well-rounded, FULL life.
I can think of times in my life that were the most wonderful and spontaneous. Wandering around Paris on my very first trip to Europe, just feeling at ease getting lost in the days before iPhones and GPS existed. The several times I was in Costa Rica and there was nothing to do in the middle of the day except nap in a hammock, and occasionally have an Imperial beer.
I’m 45-years-old. I have a good job now where all my basic needs are easily being taken care of (and then some). I have very little debt that I’m not concerned about, health care coverage, and I’m saving a good amount of money now each month for emergencies, things I want, and my future.
I do not need to spend every waking moment of every waking second being busy, productive, or hustling, just so I can earn an extra $400 (or whatever the amount is) per month.
I’m sure when I’m (hopefully) 90-years-old, I won’t look back on these days and think, “man I am sooooo glad I took on that extra side hustle!”
Because you know what it’s going to cost me in the long run? Spending time with friends. Calling my mom and having long conversations about nothing in particular. Enjoying the process of searching for love. Taking care of my mind. Taking care of my body. Laying in the sand and listening to the ocean. Eating slowly. Breathing.
Money can be spent and earned, but you cannot get time back.
So you know what I told those fears? “Screw you!”
I emailed my friend and thanked him profusely for the opportunity, and then politely declined. He even came back and asked if more money would convince me to take it. “Dammit!” But I still said “no.”
It was the hardest “no” I’ve ever had to say. Because it wasn’t about this gig in particular. It was the start of the rest of my life, and being able to say “no” to things that don’t matter (as much), and “yes” to the things that do.
On a side note:
In my quest to simplify my life and slow down, I thought to myself, “oooh I should do a podcast or maybe a Youtube series, or maybe even start another blog on the topic!”
How many of you see yourself in that sentence and giggle, knowing you’ve probably done the same thing?
Or how about I just live simply and slowly, and not add on any more work in my life, which is the exact opposite of simple and slow? How about that, Tonya?