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There’s a beauty and a fear I have about the work I do in the world.
My work in the traditional definition of work: The Job.
My work as a mother: The Mom Job.
My work as a person: The Human Job.
The beauty comes in the dynamic ability to exist, simultaneously, as each of them. The fear comes from the false construct that my success in each of them is limited.
Somewhere along the history of the world and humanity, there was a school of thought that pushed the false reality to the top of the crop that there’s a finite amount of “victory” available out there. It’s the quicksand-like foundation that establishes the existence competition. I want to share something with you that I’ve learned in all of the hardest ways in the hopes that as you navigate your own journey to personal success, whatever that looks like to you, you might have this wrench in society’s toolbox. The biggest lie we hide behind is that success is limited.
Trust me. I get it. There’s a comfort in convincing ourselves that if there’s only a limited amount of something, there’s someone more deserving, needing, or worthy enough to take your slice of the pie. Here’s the thing about that idea though. It’s bullshit.
I’ve always had an issue with the term “hustle”. It implies and postulates the idea that one must hurry to beat someone else to a finish line while being a martyr to the emotional, intellectual and physical self. The idea of “hustling to make it” has morphed into a culture that celebrates the erosion of those self healths while some of the time (too often, if we’re being real about it) penalizing or tearing down the idea of balance as a foundation as opposed to a reaction to the inevitable burnout of hustling.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a major importance to working hard for the things that you are striving to achieve. An ethic of hard work is different from working yourself to death though.
The biggest problem I’ve come to realize myself is that I’ve spent so much of my more recent adult, professional life doing the work that other people, peers, bosses, titles, or accolades have told me I’m supposed to be doing because I have found textbook success in those things.
I recently had an epiphany that seemed to come out of left field. But at the same time, I subscribe to the idea that I am always walking around the field. So it wasn’t exactly the most out of blue thing to knock me off track. Oftentimes, when something “left field” by perception occurs, after the thick of it all, I can retrospectively identify all of the moments that culminated into that experience. Because I spent the time walking around the entire field.
This moment had me reflecting on what I am even doing with my life. Am I doing what fulfills me or what fulfills a checkbox that makes other people, friends, family, or strangers alike, feel fulfilled for me?
I am still navigating this self-discovery, but have come to one major realization: I am creating my very own limits.
One thing I always do when I get into spaces of self-reflection is read. I enjoy digging into my already expansive library of titles. I’ll also find myself being led to or making space for titles I have yet to read for the fifth time.
As I was coming out of the heaviest part of this experience, I checked my inbox for the first time in two weeks. As a Type-A, hyper organized and vigilant communicator, the fact that I had not even opened my inbox for weeks was an indicator that there was some thinkin’ to do.
As I scrolled through the random holiday retail promos and daily digests from social tools, I began to wade through the mountains of PR outreach emails that I have no less than two dozen of each day. The first I opened was about an upcoming book set for release on April 2nd. I usually skim the book pitches because a girl only has so many hours in a day and is also a total bookworm so unless I could be paid to simply read books and nothing else, I have to be careful about saying yes to every advance copy offer that comes across my radar.
This time, it was different.
I was hungry, nay starving, for something that would help me feel connected and actionable to the work I was doing on myself. The title on this morning was Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life. Hmm. This sounds interesting.
I submitted my request for an advance reader’s copy and proceeded to read through it in one afternoon. I was magnetized to the title. I was hooked by the introduction. I highlighted the hell out of the thing.
The author, Laura Gassner Otting, brings you on a journey to discovering our individual and collective power to be limitless. She does so in a very tactical takeaway type of way, too. She packages the key to living limitlessly into consonance. Consonance being the balance of The Four C’s: calling, connection, contribution, and control. Not evenly distributed, mind you, but rather appropriately divided among the four based on the time or life phase that applies to your own circumstance.
I’d like to emphasize the impact that this book has had on me. It’s been three days since I read through the title. I’ve revisited it many times. I’ve begun to make the changes that reading it inspired clarity for me about. I’m taking chances and risks that are less terrifying because I have a greater understanding of the false construct of finite success. Or that the definition of success is something that is universally applicable to all. Success will always take individual form. A janitor who lives through consonance will view their work as integral to the work of the entire company or business that they are executing custodial tasks for. This is just as much a definition of success as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who is also operating in consonance.
There are so many things still left to do. The work never stops. The work to maintain your progress is a work all its own.
What’s different in my mind and soul now is that I am defining the consonance of the work I do. Personally. Professionally. Soulfully.
I encourage you, whether you’re living this way now or find yourself occasionally or regularly struggling with gaining this balance yourself, to buy a copy of Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life.