Happy Friday, friends! I’m thrilled this jam packed week is coming to a close. Brandon jetted off bright and early this morning for a guy’s weekend in Montreal, so I’ve got the apartment to myself and a long to do list to tackle in preparation for our trip to Italy.

So last week, in my wrap up post from my vacation in Cape Cod, I shared same major realizations I had during the trip. In short, I recognized I was doing a lot of negative thinking and putting a ton of unnecessary pressure on myself when it comes to my work. The thing is, I’ve felt a lot of guilt about my decision to work for myself. In some ways I’ve felt like it’s somewhat selfish to take this big risk. I know that sounds crazy but I know myself, and this pattern of thinking doesn’t really surprise me so much.

Around the age of five my parents separated. Shortly after they broke the news to me, they took me to see a therapist. I remember very little of those sessions, but what the therapist told my parents was that in reaction to the divorce, I was “parentifying.” I was trying to take care of everyone else but myself. Even from a young age, I’ve always had the tendency to feel the need to take of other people. I am by no means trying to make myself sound like a saint here- it’s less about actually caring for people and more about placing this huge guilt trip on myself that I am the one who is responsible- I’m the one who has to make sure everyone is ok.

So when it comes to work and making money/planning for the future, I feel at times I should choose a path that’s more secure so that my family, my kids, and my husband can have the best life possible. Yeah- this is the craziness that goes on in my head.

But what the trip made me realize, was not only how crazy that thinking was, but that if I didn’t take care of myself first (on all fronts), I was no good to other people. If I wasn’t feeling healthy, happy and balanced, it didn’t really matter what I was doing- I couldn’t be best self for my family and friends.

So, what have I been doing to turn all this thinking around? A few things:

  • First, just being more conscious of these thoughts has brought the pressure down a lot. Realizing that I didn’t want to do this to myself has pretty much made me stop, and overall I’m feeling a whole lot less guilty about choosing to work for myself.
  • Sleep: Because of the whole feeling like I need to be working all the time, my sleep was really suffering. No matter how tired I was or how late I went to bed, my internal alarm clock would go off around 6 a.m. (meaning I usually slept between 6 and 6 1/2 hours), and my mind would begin racing, thinking about all the things I needed to do that day (even if I wasn’t that busy). I was worn out. I couldn’t exactly force myself stay asleep longer, so I thought about what I could do to not feel so filled with dread when I went to sleep at night. I loved reading before I went to bed so I decided that on any day I woke up before my alarm, I would just read. The idea of snuggling up on our couch in the early morning with a good book felt so nice! I wasn’t so scared to wake up early, and low and behold, my rising time quickly shifted to 7:30. Some days it’s been a little earlier, and some days a little later- but now any time I wake up before 8 a.m., I read. It’s been wonderful.
  • Slowing Down: I’m one of those people that likes to walk fast everywhere I’m going- whether I’m in a rush or not (I blame my mother for this!). This tendency tends to spread into every aspect of my life, making me feel like I’m always in a rush. On the one hand, I do like to be busy and moving throughout the day, but the go go go tendency was having a negative effective. I was feeling infuriated with how long things like going to the gym, making dinner, or walking to my co-working space would take- even though I enjoy doing those things. So I’ve been more conscious of making myself slow down, be patient, and lower my expectations for how much I can truly get done in a day- and without feeling like I have in some way failed.

Have a talked your ear off enough? I think I’ll stop there, though I could go on forever. These, as well as some other changes which I’ll share later in the month, have really made a difference in my mood. I feel much more balanced, and overall, happier. And it all stemmed from my vacation! Clearly, I need to do that more often.

Have a great weekend!

  1. I know how you feel…and I too am a fast walker. It’s hard to consciously slow down, but what you said is so true - it’s important to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

  2. I’m a big believer in getting enough sleep, yet I’m a creative type who has trouble shutting off her brain, much like you. Establishing good habits around bedtime is such a good trick - I’ll admit I don’t always follow mine (shutting off the computer, putting the iPhone away, lying in bed with a book) - but yes, I totally agree with what you’re doing. :)

  3. I’m with you on the walking - you know this. However, I’ve consciously started telling myself to slow down, and sometimes even take smaller steps. (And, okay, so far I’m only doing it when I go out for lunch during the day, but you have to start somewhere.)

  4. Good advice- it is definitely important to slow down, take vacations, and be present during everything you do! And especially important to sleep in order to be productive and feel good! Nice post 😉

  5. It’s so great to hear someone else express the exact feelings I am dealing with. Like you, I also put an immense amount of pressure on myself when it comes to running my business. I could have 25 things on my to-do list, and I get upset with myself if I only cross off 24. After working all of last weekend to meet a deadline and then having a stressful beginning of the week, I decided that I needed to take a day off and recharge, but then felt so much guilt about not working on a Wednesday that I didn’t let myself relax at all. In fact, I ended up responding to emails all day on my iPhone. Not good. I realized partway through the day that I am holding myself to higher expectations than even the most demanding boss would, and I’ve since committed to make a conscious effort to cut myself more slack. I think some of your tips will really help! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Clara

      Yes! We are way too hard on ourselves- and it’s so easy to be even harder when you are your own boss. But I truly think that pushing ourselves so hard and letting these negative thoughts run rampant actually makes us worse at our jobs and less equipped to provide the best service for our clients. We really need the time off!

  6. this is a great post - absolutely agree with all of it!

  7. Sounds like your trip to Cape Cod was good for you in many ways, Clara! I tend to walk fast too - people often ask me if I’m racing to catch a train! I blame my long legs! Making a conscious effort to slow down can be hard, but I think it’s so important. If not for ourselves (although it should be), then for the ones we love! Have a lovely weekend!

  8. I know just how you feel. Thank you for your loads of advice! It’s hard to slow things down, especially where there is so much going on (in your head!). I love the idea of snuggling up with a book on those early morning. It must make such a difference starting the day that way. I need to try that one!
    I love your blog and I think you are doing an amazing job! I admire what you have done. I wish I had the courage to work for myself. Hopefully someday : )

    Have a happy Monday!

    Danielle xo

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